[T]he prison population in Britain has risen by 60 per cent since 1995. In Germany it has been more or less stable during this period, while in Canada it has fallen by 11 per cent. New Zealand just outstrips Britain, with 68 per cent growth since 1995, while even the US lags behind with 42 per cent.
But it will be a long time before Britain catches up with the US in terms of the imprisonment rate: the US imprisons 750 people per 100,000, as against 149 in England and Wales and 136 in Scotland. Still, within Europe, our imprisonment rate is behind only former eastern bloc countries and, curiously, Luxembourg. The only west European country that comes close is Spain, which imprisons 146 per 100,000. By comparison, Germany imprisons 93 per 100,000, Turkey 91, France 85 and Italy 67.
The Russian Federation, the runner up to the United States, incarcerated 628 per 100,000. Belarus, in third place, incarcerates 426 per 100,000. The U.S. also has higher incarceration rates than either Iran or South Africa. The U.S. incarcerates more people in absolute number of prisoners than China, which has about 1.5 million people incarcerated, but about four times as many people as the United States.
The Pew Center on the States provides more details on the U.S. incarceration rate in a new report. Maine, the state with the lowest incarceration rate in the nation, still has an incarceration rate of 273 per 100,000. Louisiana, with the highest rate, incarcerates 1,138 per 100,000 people.
By race, incarceration rates in the United States are:
White 408 per 100,000
Hispanic 1,042 per 100,000
Black 2,439 per 100,000
The incarceration rate in the United States is highest for black males from age 20-34, which is 11,111 per 100,000, but that number isn't strictly comparable to the other numbers above which all include both genders and all age groups, despite the fact that men aged 20-34 have among the highest crime rates for all ethnicities and countries. Still, to have one in nine people in any demographic incarcerated is remarkable.
U.S. incarceration rates have increased dramatically over the last twenty years.