This World Map Shows the Enormity of America’s Prison Problem

Michael Kelley and Christina Sterbenz, Business Insider, January 24, 2014

About 2.4 million people live behind bars in America—the highest number in the world. That’s a little more than 0.7% of the population and more than 700 for every 100,000 people.

This world map illustrates how disconcerting that is.


Click to enlarge.

The size of each country corresponds to the size of its total prison population (as of 2010), and a darker color indicates a higher incarceration rate. The area of the U.S. is bigger than China, a country that dwarfs the U.S. general population by more than four times. Also note how tiny Canada looks next to the U.S.

Compare that map to one which uses data from the International Centre for Prison Studies to show the number of prisoners per 100,000 citizens (as of October 2012). The data hasn’t changed much, and this map focuses on the incarceration rates without factoring in the total prison population.

Click to enlarge.

Click to enlarge.



Share This

We welcome comments that add information or perspective, and we encourage polite debate. If you log in with a social media account, your comment should appear immediately. If you prefer to remain anonymous, you may comment as a guest, using a name and an e-mail address of convenience. Your comment will be moderated.
  • Look at the original article.

    Why is our prison population so high in terms of per capita and in raw numbers?

    You and I both know that this is what happens when you have a 44.7 million strong black African diaspora in your midst and also a semi-fair semi-serious criminal justice system.

    But the authors of the article parrot the “reasoning” of potheads, their sycophants and the politicians that pander to them, that everyone caught with a doobie gets a 20-year bit in Federal prison.

    • NeanderthalDNA

      The White devil made ’em do it, QD! You be rayciss!

    • r j p

      Weed has been decriminalized in almost every state.
      The weed plea allows them to not have a weapons possession charge on their record.
      When will the media realize this?

  • David Ashton

    In England and Wales foreign nationals make up 15% of the prison population.

    • Zaporizhian Sich

      In the U.S., Hispanic and Muslim illegal aliens make up one third of the federal prison population, and an even higher percentage of many state prisons too.

  • Spartacus

    Canada isn’t 12% gr0id . Neither is China .

  • bigone4u

    I say thank you to the law enforcement officers, district attorneys, and judges who have the guts to actually enforce the law. Liberals, Democrats, hippies, and libertarians are crying out for nonenforcement as it relates to blacks and browns.

    Until the criminality genes can be DNAed out of the black race, the country MUST incarcerate at current or higher rates. Of course, my unpopular opinion would have the hand of a thief cut off and rapists executed, which would lower incarceration rates and serve as a real deterrent. Blacks view prison life as a country club existence, so not much deterence there.

    • NeanderthalDNA

      Thank that poor bastard who’s getting burned at the stake in NC…

      • NeanderthalDNA


        “Maybe I should have let that feral Bantu kill me. It would have been quicker and more pleasant than death by Eric Holder.”

    • sbuffalonative

      Years back, a woman on freerepublic dot com wrote that while she was traveling in Italy, she was robbed twice. When she went to the police, they handed her a form to fill out. She knew nothing would be done.

      Other countries don’t bother investigating ‘petty’ crimes. Italians police know the tourists are easy marks and will eventually leave so why bother investigating any crime a tourist reports?

      In the US, we (whites) tend to want and expect safe communities so we demand every crime be followed through.

      We in the US have higher standards for civil behavior and hence we punish more violators.

  • Daniel Schmuhl

    The war on drugs has had the positive effect of locking up lots of would be violent felons. I actually don’t like it as an end in and of itself but it’s a good broken window policy. In a more just and efficient world they would just execute many of these violent and multiple offenders.

    I don’t think it’s sustainable in the long-run though. The non-white population continues to grow, while the white population continues to shrink.

  • Sick of it

    We need a lot more of our population in prison…

  • 2eRep

    We are serfs and have been for a long time. Numbers without the sub-humans would interesting.

  • Allan477

    Bring back the tawse and the cane for minor offenses. One suspects that would lower the crime rate in this country.

  • Jesse James

    We don’t have a prison problem in the US, we have a problem with blacks and browns who can’t meet civilized standards of behavior.

    • TonyWestfield

      Jesse, your comment is profound. You remind me of a few episodes in my early years when I was misbehaving or merely loitering on the way home from school…or some of those long, sun-drenched summer days…and my mom knew what I was doing before I got home because she had received a phone call from one or several neighbors who observed my straying from the straight and narrow. I’m also reminded that most of the police officers (this mattered later in life, when greater temptations beckoned) were home grown–literally they had grown up in my town and had everything in common with me and my cohort. Our police officers lived in town and their children attended our schools. Some of those children were my classmates. Everybody knew everybody, and I remember feeling nervous when I drew the attention of a police officer but felt even MORE nervous when the officer threatened to call my dad. Further on the matter of schools, many of our teachers were home grown, and most of our teachers lived in town. We were neighbors. This organic culture, with its many built-in disciplines, gave way to the modern standard of “professionalized” police force and teachers, all carefully trained and credentialed in accordance with State or federal standards, ready to deal with a modern “diverse” body of citizens, residents, students, etc.

      • Jesse James

        Tony I grew up in a similar small town, happily before the plague of crystal meth. Once I “borrowed” my step-father’s car when my parents were out of state and me and some friends drove all around the county. My mother told me that no less than 20 people called her to let her know what I was doing. It is easy sometimes to get up on our soap boxes and blame all of societies ills on the blacks and browns. The truth is that the progressive liberal society we have constructed is toxic to us all.

  • So CAL Snowman

    Show me a country of 45 million blacks and 55 million mystery meat browns that has a LOW crime rate. Then we can talk about prison populations.

  • NoMosqueHere

    Thank the lord jesus these 2.4 million people are behind bars; if they weren’t, life would be completely unlivable in america.

  • humura

    If the US executed its murderers, like civilized nations should, we would have a much smaller prison population. In this, China is far more advanced than the US.

    • Northerner

      China is heavily criticized over capital punishment by western human rights groups. We accuse them of devaluing life.

      • Zaporizhian Sich

        The ruling elite and liberals in general place NO value whatsoever on human life other then their own. To them, and all other leftists too, the rest of us are nothing but walking programmable logic controllers that can be programmed to suit their whims, but of course human beings are not machines. That is however how they view us, at best.

      • M&S

        The problem with China is that there are umpteen odd ways to get yourself hoisted onto a gibbet (72 sticks in my mind but don’t quote me…) yet only about 19 of those are violent and half of more of the remainder are what we would call ‘social’ rather than criminal code offenses.
        Indeed, someone who makes a negligent mistake like that of the Chinese regional train inspector who let personal bribes exceed required maintenance can get a ‘by the will of the people’ execution which in fact -supercedes- that of any judicial leniency. If there is a hoot an a holler stink which is loud enough, they literally take back the life-without-parole or reduced sentence and it’s off to the wall anyway.
        We need a better, more uniform, approach to the death penalty which doesn’t pay 24 grand a year for minimum and 40 grand a year for maximum security sentences.
        It should be based on an overt predilection (displayed recidivism) to commit crime and it -must- be based on the need to protect society from further depredations rather than out of some abstract concept of ‘justice’ as a cover for vengeance.
        A 3-5 rule sounds good to me. 3 felonies = death penalty and 5 misdemeanors = 1 felony.
        To which I would add three classes of crime: Stupid = 1-2 years. Greedy = 2-4 years. Vicious = 4-6 years.
        Psychologists tell us that everyone’s personality changes, roughly every 5-7 years. Get them over the hump from teen-to-21 idiocy and maybe they’ll do better. Get them past the mid-30 slump in testosterone as the rise of real wisdom and maybe they’ll do better.
        Past that, I’m sorry but you had your chance/s.
        But STOP PAYING for long incarceration times when what you really want these habitual predators to do is _stay away_ from decent people.
        Our population is shrinking. Our women are only reproducing at 1.83 children per mother instead of the 2.14 minimum required to make us sustainable. Mexicans come to the table with an ingrained outrage against the death penalty from the outset (irony of ironies considering the way they butcher each other in their own country). Blacks will never sentence anyone who isn’t white to anything beyond time served.
        If we don’t put into place something which is non-arbitrary and low-density able to deal with sudden, short term, age-cohort surges in criminality, we will be unable to either pay for prolonged imprisonment nor provide for realistic alternatives.
        What’s that you say? Mercy opposite the needle?
        Yes. Because justice -is- tempered by mercy if you’ll recall.
        Typical SSI disability is 700 dollars a month or 8,400 dollars a year. Give someone on his second run through the system a choice: sterilization and remote ex-con town, far from whatever temptation society provides, where there are only other criminals of ‘equivalent caliber’ (stupid, greedy, vicious) to worry about. Where s/he will have an apartment, a monthly grocery delivery and ‘free cable!’ plus limited medical.
        Or back to the streets, unemployable, unhousable, and all but guaranteed to run into that needle as some poor citizen who certainly didn’t deserve to be a victim.
        Blacks don’t fear much but they have a grudging respect for the inevitable.
        THAT is how you ‘decriminalize’ the DNA of our country.

  • Conrad

    That’s only because we don’t hang as many prisoners as we should.

  • sbuffalonative

    Alaska has a smaller population but on other listings, they appear to have a high crime rate. What crimes are being committed in Alaska to cause the percentage to be higher than some other states?

    • Jesse James

      Maybe there is more crime because Alaska draws some of the same outlaw types that used to hide out in the Indian Territory before it became Oklahoma. It is kind of on the edge of civilization. It does attract a lot of independent minded, rough and tumble types who don’t fit in very well in the lower 48.

      • Tom B.

        Right you are–the Natives contribute very much to the crime rate. They commit rape at a higher rate than blacks. Mostly white felons from the lower 48 take to the areas near remote villages to hide out and they are some crazy dudes! Last but not least, they now have about a 4% black population when I left and they provide a large portion of drug dealing ,pimping , etc.

    • Rosenmops

      Probably the Natives. In Canada they commit a disproportionate amount of crime. Could be because they have a lot of trouble with addiction.

      • Einsatzgrenadier

        The native Indians in Canada have the highest rates of incarceration and crime, but I suspect that much of this criminality is the direct result of Canada’s disgusting policy of massive third world immigration, which has displaced and impoverished many Indians. They have suffered the most because of Canada’s worthless third world immigrants.

    • Katherine McChesney

      High rate of alcoholism in Alaska.

  • LHathaway

    Actually, if you’re WHITE and commit a petty crime, or area repeat offender, you’re more likely to get much more prison time. . .

    Just another ‘effort’ at reaching equality. .

  • Godsofthecopybookheadings


    “Black people make up about 2.5% of Canada’s population. Yet they now represent just over 9% of the federal inmate population, the report says. The majority of black inmates are incarcerated in Ontario — 60% — followed by Quebec at 18%.”
    Their incarceration rate is not just disproportionate – their proportion of the Canadian prison population is over three times their proportion of the total Canadian population. This disproportion is a little worse than what we see in the U.S. No doubt, it’s a legacy of Canada’s long and shameful history of Jim Crow.

    • Einsatzgrenadier

      Black over-representation in Canadian federal prisons is a legacy of Canada’s stupid policy of massive third world immigration, dating from the early 1990s. And Ottawa continues to import these black animals from Africa, Jamaica and elsewhere because the government hates white people and wants to see them ethnically cleansed from their communities and neighborhoods.

      • skara_brae

        Well said Einsatz. I’ve mentioned this before but I still find it illuminating.
        Arriving at Pearson Intl. in Toronto, overseas visitors are greeted by eleven huge cardboard cutout photos of children holding signs saying “Welcome to Canada”.
        Not one of the eleven kids is white.

  • TonyWestfield

    By definition…If a lot of people are behind bars, and a lot of crime is still occurring out here, then we need to put a whole lot MORE people behind bars. Ergo, the problem is TOO FEW people behind bars.

    • Zaporizhian Sich

      Nay, we need to be putting a vast number of criminal offenders, enemy guerillas and terrorists to death. Prison to our black and brown enemies is merely “three hots and a cot.” There was a time where prisons were merely holding tanks before a suspect was tried and either freed, or punished. Punishment included fines, flogging, stocks, pillories, or the gallows. sword, headsman’s axe or a firing squad. Many offenders also were banished or exiled temporarily or permanently. Never until the 18th century were people locked up for periods of years, even decades for a crime, before that anyone convicted of a serious offense was either exiled or executed.

      • TonyWestfield

        Sich, I agree with you 99.9% of the time. Your present remarks are no exception. You took me literally with “behind bars” but I meant more generally that creatures who misbehave ought to be detected, arrested, and taken out of circulation. Exile or execution will get two thumbs-up from me.

        My statistical play attempts to make fun of certain advocates who claim that too many of a certain ilk are “in the system” when the opposite is obviously true. The great challenge is to make punishment a true disincentive. I’ve never understood, for example, why even the modern (soft) sensibility–the one that prevails in rejecting execution, exile, corporeal punishment–must allow a “culture” inside prisons. There ought to be no culture at all, only misery: solitary confinement without time in “the yard” to socialize, hard labor inside and outside the cage, no television or computer, etc.

        “Three hots and a cot” can keep me on the straight and narrow because it’s so much worse than my regular life. Civilization can succeed ONLY when punishment is something to dread (compared to the regular life of those most likely to offend).

      • Nice bardiche that one has! I wish I had one.

  • Non Humans

    Why the fence? Thats wasted resources. Just stop policing nonhuman ghettos and stop investigating nonhuman on nonhuman crimes (noncrimes essentially). Use the officers and detectives formerly assigned to police those areas to seal off and maintain a perimeter. Then ship the survivors back to Nonhumanfrica.

  • Zaporizhian Sich

    Exactly, but I think the rope, sword or bullet is the better way, it’s much more efficient because executions will have to be carried out en masse.

  • A lot of the guys I met in federal prison should have been out on reporting supervision, with ankle monitors, random drug tests, random home visits by probation officers, drug classes, anger-management classes and the like. Sure it’s expensive to do that, but cheaper than locking folks up at a cost of $40,000 a year.

    I think most of the white ones could be salvaged this way, without incarcerating them.

  • Anon

    Our prison populations are far higher than this.
    Most of our black population is kept in whole cities converted to giant minimum security prisons. In these lawless zones, blacks do as they want. 100% do drugs with impunity. Assaults, robberies, rape, are all largely ignored. In the worst of these places, Detroit for example, murder is routinely ignored and so is literally burning down buildings.
    All these things are the result of white people being disobedient to God, ignoring our Bible and instead embracing liberalism….which aggressively denies any difference between right and wrong. Rape, robbery, murder and intentional victimizing another through assault. These four things are to be punished with death. No argument. No debate. Very little trial. Obvious criminals of this sort are to be put to death as quickly as possible, the next dawn preferably. A PEOPLE with these characteristics, our religion commands us to genocide. Note that this is the exact opposite of what liberals claim Christianity espouses…and intentional deception. Christ demands you turn the other cheek when your neighbor loses his temper and slaps you. He also commands mercy when hungry people are forced to steal. He also referred to people outside his race as “dogs” and only with great reluctance, distrust and insistence they prove their sincerity before he used his supernatural abilities to heal them. The Bible is quite clear however when it comes to evil…both in the individual and the population. He are commanded to kill them. Repeatedly, the Bible reveals curses to those of us who refuse.
    And what are black people to us if not a curse.
    At the barest, barest minimum, we should have driven them from our lands, long ago. Until we do, the curse remains. There is every reason to believe that curse will eventually result in open warfare. The liberals worship black evil and THEIR religion demands we lay down and die as sacrifice to it.
    So white people are faced with a choice. Obedience or death. It’s never been different. Toynbee’s master work of all human cultures known to history reveals that all civilizations are faced with specific challenges to either obey God or not, with always the same result. The wages of sin are death. Locking up rapists, murderers, thieves and other criminal scum because you don’t want to obey our God’s command to kill them has very specific consequences…..especially since, too often, we let them back out.

  • RyanP

    There is no doubt that race is a large factor in this. But I am wondering how many non violent people are in prison. I think we should be using other forms of punishment for people who do not pose any immediate threat of violence.

    • One guy I met in the feds was convicted of having too much Sudafed (more than 500 pills). He was driving it to his meth cook’s house. This is a six-month federal misdemeanor. He was also caught with illegal fireworks in his truck, also a misdemeanor, except the feds called that a ten-year “explosives” enhancement, so the guy got ten-and-a-half years for two misdemeanors, and did something like eight years, seven months of that. The guy needed in-patient drug rehab, not lockup.

      Another guy I met got 37 years of Colorado state time for being stabbed in the neck by his ex-girlfriend, who then looted out his checking account and forged his signature on the pink slip to his Range Rover before selling it. He had been a software engineer for Qwest. He did 13 of it, but was so well behaved and so trustworthy that the state prison in Sterling had him running their computer system. Of course he received parole the first time he came up for a hearing. I wrote him to tell him that would happen; if they trusted Luis that much, they’d cut him loose first thing.

  • JohnEngelman

    Prison conditions in third world countries are more severe than in the United States. Criminal suspects have fewer rights. With a high third world population the United States continues to maintain a criminal justice system that is only effective with whites of European ancestry.

    Nevertheless, the tripling of the prison population since 1980 has been one of the few social experiments in the United States that has worked. From 1960 to 1970 the prison population declined. The crime rate doubled. Since 1980 the prison population has tripled. The crime rate has declined by one third.



    An adult black man is seven times more likely than his white counterpart to reside behind bars. Paradoxically, the largest disparities are found in political domains controlled by liberals — the leaders in the struggle for racial justice. By examining how criminal behavior is distributed within the races, the paradox is resolved showing it to be an unintended consequence of liberal benevolence and goodwill.

    lagriffedulion . f2s . com/prison . htm

    • How do those blacks get behind bars in the first place? A lot of my friends from prison went back. Some were complete tragedies. One guy played an amazing game of chess and used to plan out small business startups in detail. He went back. His new out-date is sometime in 2036, so he’ll be 71. By then, his mother will have died of old age, his sister’s kids will be grown up, and almost everyone he knew will have moved. I started writing yet another letter for him this morning. It’s sad, but he made his choice. I really thought he wanted to go legit and was sure he would.

      My point is that personal choice is the main element here. The civilian microelectronics industry here has evaporated, and I’ll never have a security clearance again, so companies like Lockheed-Martin are right out. I chose a life at home with my family, books and hobbies, instead of doubling down on proven failure. I was also never involved with drugs.

      I used to collect and shoot old military rifles. I miss that. People have offered to take me shooting again, but I would probably become used to it, grow careless, and eventually wind up with charges of “felon in possession of firearms”, and there is too much else I like doing: vegetable gardening, cooking, woodworking, metalworking, welding, sex with my wife, taking showers with my wife, reading to our daughter, reading my enormous book collection, watching movies with my family on DVD, visiting my mother and fixing things around her home, hiking, camping, fishing, tying my own fishing flies, working on our cars, drinks with the neighbors, and so-on. I have better things to do with the next ten years than spending it locked up just because I would also like to go shooting again.

      Lots of black guys are in prison, but what did they do to get there?

      • SFLBIB

        “…what did they do to get there?”

        I guess everyone has his own story.

  • Tom B

    It’s long known about blacks filling up prisons in usa. They commit the disproportionate amount of crime by far. But 100 years ago, whites probably were the most represented in the prison population.
    A question to ponder?.