Russia’s falling prison population

08 Mar 2019

Russia’s falling prison population 

Roy Walmsley

In most countries prison population levels have been rising. The estimated world total has increased from 8.7 million in the year 2000 to 10.7 million towards the end of last year (see World Prison Population List, 12th edition).

However, in central and eastern Europe and in the European countries of the former Soviet Union the numbers have been falling. The Russian Federation’s figures demonstrate this particularly dramatically. 

In March 2000 the Russian prison population was well over one million (1,073,200). By the beginning of February 2019 it had fallen to 557,600. In the last ten years it has been falling steadily by an average of 32,000 a year. 

But, per head of population, the Russian Federation still has the 20th highest prison population level in the world - two and a half times the overall world rate.