The World Prison Brief is an online database providing free access to information on prisons and the use of imprisonment around the world. It is a unique resource, offering a foundation for evidence-based development of prison policy and practice globally.

The World Prison Brief is hosted by the Institute for Criminal Policy Research (ICPR), at Birkbeck, University of London. It was launched in 2000 using data compiled by Roy Walmsley, Director of the World Prison Brief.

ICPR’s prison studies team conducts research on prisons and imprisonment worldwide, developing and disseminating knowledge to inform policy and practice. Through collaboration with research partners, civil society organisations and policy makers, ICPR’s world prison research programme aims to inform and promote debate on what we expect from imprisonment, and pursues a range of policy-oriented research activities. The hosting and continual updating of the World Prison Brief database is a core part of this work.

In addition to providing access to the World Prison Brief database, this website holds other publications by ICPR and its original host, the International Centre for Prison Studies (which was formed in 1997 and merged with ICPR in 2014). These include the World Prison Population List (and complementary lists on Female Imprisonment and Pretrial/Remand Imprisonment), the handbook on A Human Rights Approach to Prison Management, and bimonthly editions of the International Prison News Digest. See the ‘Research and publications’ page.

New ICPR book “Imprisonment Worldwide: The Current Situation and an Alternative Future

This book provides a comprehensive account of prison populations around the world and analyses recent trends in imprisonment. Imprisonment Worldwide also provides commentary on what is an ethical approach to the use of imprisonment, and how this can be sustained in ever more challenging social, economic and political environments. The authors propose a radical re-think on the use of imprisonment across the globe and offer an alternative vision for the future.

Imprisonment Worldwide: The Current Situation and an Alternative Future is available from the Policy Press website (£7.99 when ordered direct from Policy Press). It is also available from Amazon in paperback and Kindle versions.

Read more