World Prison Brief

Institute for Criminal Policy Research

About WPB

About the World Prison Brief

The World Prison Brief (WPB) was launched on 28 September 2000 using data specially compiled for ICPS by Roy Walmsley, Director of the WPB.

The WPB is a data-base which provides information about prison systems throughout the world. It thus enables more evidence-based discussion of ways to improve prison systems in accordance with international human rights standards.

In each country page information is provided on prison populations and prison population rates per 100,000 of the national population, on the use of imprisonment for women and juveniles, on the extent of pre-trial imprisonment and on prison overcrowding, as well as a record of the national ministries responsible for prisons and contact details for prison administrations.

Information is updated on a monthly basis using data from reputable sources.

The World Prison Brief also presents lists, from the country with the highest rate to the country with the lowest rate, in respect of prison population rates, prison population totals, occupancy rates, pre-trial/remand prisoners, female prisoners and foreign prisoners. The last three lists show the number of such prisoners as a percentage of the prison population total. These 'highest to lowest' lists are available both for the entire world and for individual continents.

Further information

Thanks to a generous grant from the Open Society Foundations we we have expanded the information held on the World Prison Brief.

Recent trend data on pre-trial/remand prison populations for over 180 countries can now be accessed on the site. The data comprise the number of pre-trial/remand prisoners in the prison population on a single date in the year (or the annual average); the percentage of the total prison population that this represents; and the pre-trial/remand population rate per 100,000 of the national population. Recent trend data on female prisoners in over 170 countries have also been added to the ‘Further Information’ tabs. These tables follow the same format as those for the pre-trial trend data: showing the total number of female prisoners, the percentage of the total prison population they constitute and the rate per 100,000 of the population.

Further, the WPB now includes substantially more historic trend data on total prison populations and prison population rates per 100,000 of the general population. Where the data are available, the trend tables on each country’s ‘Overview’ tab have been reformatted to show the figures at two yearly intervals from the year 2000 to the present, while trend data at five yearly intervals from 1980 to 2000 have been included on the ‘Further Information’ tab, with a link from the ‘Overview’.

Submitting information

We aim to make the World Prison Brief progressively more comprehensive and useful and would very much welcome users submitting information, reports and other resources to be considered for inclusion on the site.

If you are able to assist in this way please contact Helen Fair on