Harsh Justice: Comparing Prisons Around the World

PrisonAt least 11 million people are sitting in prisons and detention centers around the world. And with the global population continuing to rise, prison population numbers are only going to swell in the coming decades. Let’s explore how justice is meted out around the world. 

Comparing the World’s Prisons

Residents incarcerated per 100,000

  • Afghanistan 76
  • Argentina 147
  • Australia 130
  • Azerbaijan 226
  • Belize 476
  • Bermuda 417
  • Chile 259
  • China 170
  • Cuba 510
  • Denmark 73
  • Egypt 71
  • El Salvador 425
  • Ethiopia 136
  • France 100
  • United Kingdom 132
  • Iran 284
  • Iraq 110
  • Ireland 89
  • Israel 225
  • Italy 105
  • Japan 51
  • Jordan 95
  • Kazakhstan 295
  • Kuwait 140
  • Libya 82
  • Mexico 210
  • North Korea 800
  • Pakistan 41
  • Russia 475
  • Rwanda 492
  • Saudi Arabia 162
  • South Africa 294
  • South Korea 99
  • Spain 146
  • Sweden 67
  • Turkey 184
  • Ukraine 288
  • United States 716
  • Vietnam 145

Death sentences imposed 2007-2012

  • Afghanistan 364
  • Argentina 0
  • Australia 0
  • Azerbaijan 0
  • Belize 0
  • Bermuda 0
  • Chile 0
  • China Thousands (at least 11051)
  • Cuba 0
  • Denmark 0
  • Egypt 704
  • El Salvador 0
  • Ethiopia 55
  • France 0
  • United Kingdom 0
  • Iran 156
  • Iraq 1420
  • Ireland 0
  • Israel 0
  • Italy 0
  • Japan 108
  • Jordan 67
  • Kazakhstan 0
  • Kuwait 31
  • Libya 0
  • Mexico 0
  • North Korea 105
  • Pakistan 1497
  • Russia 0
  • Rwanda 0
  • Saudi Arabia 54
  • South Africa 0
  • South Korea 13
  • Spain 0
  • Sweden 0
  • Turkey 0
  • Ukraine 0
  • United States 504
  • Vietnam 258

Note: Execution figures listed for North Korea, as many of the country’s executions take place without legal proceedings

Notorious Prisons

U.S.: ADX (federal supermax), Florence, Colorado
Notable inmates:

  • Unabomber Ted Kaczynski
  • Shoe bomber Richard Reid
  • Oklahoma City bombing conspirator Terry Nichols

Conditions
According to a class-action lawsuit against the facility, “Many prisoners at ADX interminably wail, scream, and bang on the walls of their cells. Some mutilate their bodies with razors, shards of glass, sharpened chicken bones, writing utensils, and whatever other objects they can obtain.”

Diyarbakır Prison, Turkey
Capacity
Can hold about 1,100 prisoners and is often overcrowded

Conditions
Often referred to as having the most human rights violations per prisoner, the prison is said to be rife with physical and mental torture and sexual abuse. Inmates have attempted hunger strikes, taken their own lives and even set themselves on fire.

North Korea: Camp 22, northeast North Korea
Size
770 square miles, holding 50,000 people at its peak of operations

Conditions
Less a prison than a concentration camp, Camp 22 operators subjected inmates to extreme torture and human experimentation. Officially denied by the North Korean regime, Camp 22 is the most brutal of the country’s oppressive prison camps, though there are some indications the camp may have been closed in recent years.
Torture methods

  • Water torture: Prisoner stands on toes in a tank filled with water to his nose for 24 hours
  • Hanging torture: Prisoner stripped, hung upside down from the ceiling and beaten
  • Box-room-torture: Prisoner detained in tiny cell not large enough to stand or sit
  • Kneeling-torture: Prisoner forced to kneel and a wooden bar is inserted near his knee hollows to stop blood circulation.
  • Pigeon torture: Prisoner tied to wall with both hands at a height of about 2 feet and must crouch for many hours.

Prisons of the World
Source: CriminalJusticeDegreeHub.com
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