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 are now in the process of expanding the information held on the World Prison Brief.

New categories of data are becoming available. Already on the website in the further information section is expanded information on pre-trial/remand imprisonment. This shows trends in the numbers in such detention, the proportion of the prison population that they constitute and the level of pre-trial/remand imprisonment in terms of the rate per 100,000 of the national population. This will be followed by expanded information on female imprisonment and longer-term trends in prison population levels.

Where available the further information section will also contain more detail on aspects of imprisonment such as prison conditions, numbers of deaths in custody, and suggested explanations for levels of pre-trial detention in countries where this is notably high. A section has been introduced which will provide links to news and reports relating to prisons, and a further section will provide links to national organisations and other resources.

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 Helen.Fair@icps.essex.ac.uk