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Justice

Prison population

Almost three million people were held in penal institutions throughout OECD countries. Around two-thirds of these were in the United States, which has the highest prison population rate in the OECD, 701 per 100,000 population. Iceland has the lowest rate, at 37 per 100,000.

More than three-quarters of OECD countries have prison population rates below 140 per 100,000 population. New Zealand’s rate of 155 places it seventh-highest in the OECD, just below Mexico.

 

Imprisonment Rate

(prison population per 100,000 total population), latest year available

  Rate 
 OECD  261
 New Zealand  155

Prison rates vary

Prison rates vary considerably among OECD regions. Iceland, Japan and northern European countries have some of the lowest rates, between 37 and 73 per 100,000 population.

Western and southern European countries are higher, with most having between 80 and 100 per 100,000. Some of the highest prison population rates in the OECD were in central and eastern Europe, with rates that are exceeded only by the United States.

 

 Prison and Country Populations

(number in penal institutions including pre-trial detainees (000)), latest year available

  Prison  Country 
 OECD  2,983  1,142,486
 New Zealand  5.881  3,800
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