The U.S. incarcerates more of its people than other nations: Approximate number of people in jail or prison per 100,000 population

Country People in jail per 100,000 total national population
United States 700
Turkmenistan 600
El Salvador 500
Cuba 500
Thailand 450
Russian Federation 450
South Africa 300
Iran 300
Israel 250
Turkey 250
Australia 150
U.K. (England and Wales) 150
Spain 150
Canada 100
France 100


Note: Many widely circulated reports provide more specific numbers than the approximate numbers shown here. For example, commonly reported estimates of current U.S. incarceration rates are 693 and 707 per 100,000. But methodologies vary, and rather than arbitrarily using the specific estimates of only one such report, we use approximate numbers here because it is the magnitude of differences that is important, not the specific estimates.

Source: Peter Wagner and Alison Walsh, “States of Incarceration: The Global Context,” Prison Policy Initiative, 2016

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