The International Center for Prison Studies estimates that more than 10.2 million people were incarcerated in prisons and other penal institutions around the world in 2013. The number of people behind bars has been increasing every year since the beginning of the millennium, and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime estimates that there has been a 10% increase in the global prison population since the year 2004. Imprisonment rates were found to vary greatly between countries with some areas recording incarceration of as few as 2 out every 100,000 people, while others recorded more than 800 out of every 100,000 people serving time behind bars at this time. The country with the highest rates of incarcerated persons were the Seychelles, with 868 out of every 100,000 persons in prison, while the USA and St. Kitts and Nevis take the 2nd and 3rd places, with 698 and 611 persons, respectively, out of every 100,000 serving jail time. The average number of people behind bars worldwide was 144 persons out of every 100,000.
Who gets imprisoned?
The UN Special Rapporteur on Extreme Poverty and Human Rights published a report in 2011 showing that adult men from the poorest segments of society are the most likely demographic to be imprisoned. Female prisoners make up 6.5% of the global prison population. South Eastern and Eastern Asia recorded the highest levels of women behind bars, while Africa recorded the lowest. Similar to patterns seen among male prisoners, the poorest and most marginalized women are the susceptible to be detained. Female inmates are typically arrested for such crimes as theft and fraud. Children and young persons are also not immune to arrest, and the UNODC discovered that 1.2% of young people were being held prisoner in penal systems, juvenile schools, as well as hospitals and orphanages. In addition, many children were found to be living with their mothers in prisons, raising the number of minors under penal institutions. Finally, correctional facilities are recording growing numbers of elderly prisoners. In the USA, for instance, the number of incarcerated males over the age of 55 grew from 8,853 in 1981, to 124,900 in 2012. This was mainly due to individuals receiving long prison sentences, which kept people locked up into old age for crimes committed when they were younger.
Effects of Imprisonment Trends
Most prisoners tend to be adult males and females from marginalized sectors of society with limited economic opportunities, orphaned children or children without guardians, and, increasingly, elderly people serving out long sentences. Arresting these particular segments of society has resulted in the following effects:
The important incarceration trends outlined above supply important data to policy makers and other people in authoritative positions in drafting laws and policies. For such officials, passing legislation that is both informed and well-planned is crucial to help ensure that prisoners under their jurisdiction receive rehabilitation necessary to equip them to become productive and law-abiding members of society upon their release.
Incarceration Rates By Country
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|Rank||Countries||Number of Prisoners per 100k Population|
|2||United States of America||698|
|3||St. Kitts and Nevis||611|
|4||Virgin Islands (USA)||542|
|13||Virgin Islands (United Kingdom)||425|
|15||Bermuda (United Kingdom)||411|
|16||Anguilla (United Kingdom)||407|
|17||Sint Maarten (Netherlands)||396|
|19||Antigua and Barbuda||389|