IMPORTANT:This page has used Creative Commons Licensed content from Wikipedia in either a refactored, modified, abridged, expanded, built on or 'straight from' text content! (view authors)

File:Prisoner population rate UN HDR 2007 2008.PNG

World map showing number of prisoners per 100,000 citizens.[1]

Incarceration is the detention of a person in jail, typically as punishment for a crime. People are most commonly incarcerated upon suspicion or conviction of committing a crime, and different jurisdictions have differing laws governing the function of incarceration within a larger system of justice. Incarceration serves four essential purposes with regard to criminals:

  1. to punish criminals for committing crimes
  2. to isolate criminals to prevent them from committing more crimes
  3. to deter others from committing crimes
  4. to rehabilitate criminals

Incarceration rates, when measured by the United Nations, are considered distinct and separate from the imprisonment of political prisoners and others not charged with a specific crime. Historically, the frequency of imprisonment, its duration, and severity have varied considerably. There has also been much debate about the motives for incarceration, its effectiveness and fairness, as well as debate regarding the related questions about the nature and etiology of criminal behavior.

Justice studies

Wilkenson (2004) notes that overall heterogeneity of a society may provide a meta-explanation for the variance in incarceration rates: There may be a multi-directional causality where close-knit societies are least likely to offend against one another. Knowing ones' neighbors may hence bridge econometric explanations across communities. Or put another way, except perhaps for crimes of passion, people do not offend against people they know well.

Penology and justice studies emphasize description and analysis of antecedents of criminal behavior and outcomes of consequences imposed by criminal justice on the criminal behavior. An example of a modern quantitative study of factors influencing the criminal behavior is the study by Krus and Hoehl (1994).

In the study by Krus and Hoehl, variables that might explain differences in incarceration rates among populations were located by a computer-aided search of the compendium of world rankings, compiled by the Facts on File Corporation and the World Model Group, containing over 50,000 records on more than 200 countries.

They argued that predictor variables explained about 69% of variance in the international incarceration rates. Cited as especially important were unequal distribution of wealth (the explanation perhaps favored by liberals) and family disintegration (the explanation perhaps favored by conservatives). According to Krus and Hoehl, these variables act in concert: the presence of one variable does not always precipitate crime, but the presence of both variables often does precipitate crime.

Incarceration rates by country

File:Incarceration Rates Worldwide ZP.svg

Incarceration rates of selected nations[2][3][4]

In many countries, it is common for prisoners to be paroled after serving as little as one third of their sentences.


In 2001 the incarceration rate in China was 111 per 100,000 in 2001 (sentenced prisoners only).


Denmark also has a low incarceration rate with a total of 3774 inmates in the country.[5] Denmark has 59 people in prison for every 100,000 citizens.[5] 62 violent crimes such as rape, murder, robbery, and aggravated assault were reported.Template:When There were 322 Property Crimes reported.Template:When

England and Wales

In 2006 the incarceration rate in England and Wales is 139 persons imprisoned per 100,000 residents, while in Norway it is 59 inmates per 100,000, whilst the Australian imprisonment rate is 163 prisoners per 100,000 residents, and the rate of imprisonment in New Zealand last year was 179 per 100,000.


India has one of the lowest incarceration rates with only 281,000 prisoners in their jails.[5] This is just a fraction of their total population, 1,129,866,154.[5] India reported 1,764,630 crimes in 2007.[5] There were 236,313 assaults and 111,296 burglaries.[6]

United States

File:Incarceration rate of inmates incarcerated under state and federal jurisdiction per 100,000 population 1925-2008.png

A graph showing the United States incarceration rate under state and federal jurisdiction per 100,000 population 1925-2008. It does not include jail inmates. The male incarceration rate is roughly 7 times the female incarceration rate.

The United States' incarceration rate is, according to official reports, the highest in the world, at 737 persons imprisoned per 100,000 (as of 2005).[7] A report released in 2008 indicates that in the United States more than 1 in 100 adults is now confined in an American jail or prison.[8] The United States has 4% of the world's population and 25% of the world's incarcerated population.[9]

In the U.S., most states strictly limit parole, requiring that at least half of a sentence be served. For certain heinous crimes, there is no parole and the full sentence must be served.

Incarceration and torture

Cruel treatment has long been a feature of incarceration. Taken to extremes, such treatment might be described as torture.

Torture has, for much of history, been seen as a tolerable or even necessary component of imprisonment, whether performed as punishment or as part of interrogation.[citation needed]. On Oct. 28, 2010, the head of UK's MI6, Sir John Sawers, has described torture as "illegal and abhorrent" (BBC Oct. 2010,

See also


  1. Human Development Report 2007/2008 - Prison population (per 100,000 people). United Nations Development Programme.
  2. World Prison Population List. 7th edition. By Roy Walmsley. Published in 2007. International Centre for Prison Studies. School of Law, King's College London. For editions 1 through 7: [1].
  3. World Prison Brief - Highest to Lowest Figures. International Centre for Prison Studies. School of Law, King's College London. Compare many nations. Select from menu: prison population total, prison population rate, percentage of pre-trial detainees / remand prisoners within the prison population, percentage of female prisoners within the prison population, percentage of foreign prisoners within the prison population and occupancy rate.
  4. Human Development Report 2007/2008 - Prison population (per 100,000 people). UNDP (United Nations Development Programme), using data from the World Prison Population List.
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 5.4 World Prison Population List by Roy Walmsley-
  6. NationMaster - Indian Crime statistics
  7. Paige M. Harrison and Allen J. Beck, Ph.D. (November 2006). "Prisoners in 2005" (PDF). U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, Bureau of Justice Statistics. pp. 13.
  8. One in 100: Behand Bars in America


  • ABC News/Washington Post poll (2004). Conducted by TNS of Horsham, Pa, on a random national sample of 1,005 adults with a three-point error margin.
  • Arpaio, J. and Sherman, L. (1996) How to win the war against crime. Arlington: The Summit Publishing Group.
  • Binsfeld, P. (1596) Tractatus de confessionibus maleficorum et sagarum. Trier, Germany: Heinrich Bock.
  • Block, M. K. (1997) Supply side imprisonment policy. Washington: National Institute of Justice.
  • Beccaria, C. (1764) An essay on crimes and punishments. New York: Gould & Van Winkle, 1809.
  • Daneau, L. (1564) Les Sorciers, dialogue très utile et très necessaire pour ce temps. In Levack, B. (1992) The literature of witchcraft: articles on witchcraft, magic, and demonology. Garland. ISBN 0-8153-1026-9.
  • Geiler, J. (1508) Die Emeis. Strassburg: Johann Grüninger.
  • Kurian, G.T. (1991) The New Book of World Rankings. New York: Facts on File, Inc.
  • Krus, D.J. (1999) Die Harte des Strafvollzugs: Entbindung in Ketten. Zeitschrift fur Sozialpsychologie und Gruppendynamik in Wirtschaft und Gesellschaft, 24Jg/Heft 4, S.12-16 (Request reprint in English,in German).
  • Krus, D. J., & Hoehl, L .S. (1994) Issues associated with international incarceration rates. Psychological Reports, 75, 1491-1495 (Request reprint).
  • Mauer, M. (1991) American Behind Bars: A Comparison of International Rates of Incarceration. Washington, D.C.: The Sentencing Project.
  • Mauer, M. (1999) Race to incarcerate. New York: The New Press.
  • Mǖllendorf, P. (1911) Geschichte der Spanischen Inquisition. Leipzig, Germany.
  • Rhyne, C. E., Templer, D. I., Brown, L. G., & Peters, N. B. (1995) Dimensions of suicide: perceptions of lethality, time, and agony. Suicide & Life Threatening Behavior, 25(3), 373-380.
  • Sindelar, B. (1986) Hon na carodejnice v zapadni a stredni Evrope v 16.-17.stoleti. Prague: Nakladatelstvi Svoboda.

External links

de:Haft fr:Emprisonnement en droit français he:מאסר oc:Empresonament ru:Лишение свободы fi:Vapausrangaistus sv:Frihetsstraff zh:有期徒刑

Community content is available under CC-BY-SA unless otherwise noted.