10 Nations with Massive Prison Populations

Written by Kao Cenderik


Overcrowding is a problem in prisons across the world. The last time a worldwide count was conducted in 2001, the United Nations reported more than 8.5 million people were being held in penal institutions in countries that took part in the census. Experts believe the numbers have increased significantly since then, particularly in the U.S. and China.

The U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime says the rapid growth in prison populations in some small nations results in the spread of disease and many alleged human rights violations. Though they’re not opposed to new prison construction, U.N. officials say new prisons do not always provide sustainable solutions. They encourage nations with overcrowding to focus on improving criminal sentencing policies and developing alternatives to prison for non-violent offenders.

Here are 10 nations with some of the highest prison populations.