Crime and Incarceration Statistics per Country

Color Coding Key
GREEN Ranked 1st for statistic
RED Ranked last for statistic

The United States' crime rate is paradoxicallly disproportionate to its incredibly high incarceration rate.

CONSISTENCY-> Average firearms per 100 people Homicides/ 100,000 Total # of adults in prison Prisoners/ 100,000 Executions 2016 Death Penalty Perception of Safety Safety and security ranking
Australia 15.0 0.98 41,064 169 0 no 62 20
Canada 30.8 1.68 40,663 114 0 no 80 22
Denmark 12.0 0.99 3,408 59 0 no 80 5
France 31.2 1.58 70,018 103 0 no 70 28
Germany 30.3 0.85 64,193 77 0 no 80 7
Italy 11.9 0.78 57,393 95 0 no 58 24
Japan 0.6 0.31 56,805 45 3 yes 68 3
Netherlands 15 0.61 10,102 59 0 no 81 12
Norway 31.3 0.56 3,874 74 0 no 86 6
Sweden 31.6 1.15 5,245 53 0 no 76 10
United Kingdom 6.2 0.92 86,294 120 0 no 79 13
United States 88.8 4.88 2,145,000 666 20 yes 73 52



"Reseachers Blast U.S. Prison Policies," Michael Doyle

McclatchyDC, April 2014

From a new study by the The National Research Council. The rate of incarceration in the United States was fairly stable until 1972. Between 1972 and 2000 it increased dramatically. The increase has slowed, but the number of adults in the U.S. who are in prison or jail is 2.2 million, the largest prison population in the world, followed distantly by the Russian Federation.

  • In 1972, 161 people per 100,000 in the U.S. were incarcerated in prisons and jails.
  • In 2007, 767 per 100,000 were incarcerated

The numbers in the study are not new (see chart, above) but the findings support the concern about the United States' level of incarceration. "We are concerned that the United States is past the point where the number of people in prison can be justified by social benefits," said committee chair Jeremy Travis, president of John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York City.

The study authors attribute this growth to:

  • mandatory sentencing,
  • long sentences for violent and repeat offenses and,
  • the "war on drugs."

The increase is disproportionately high for African Americans: In 2010, the imprisonment rate for African-Americans was 4.6 times that for whites.

"Millions in the Slammer..." Nomi Prins

"Millions in the Slammer: We Must Reverse America's Zeal to Incarcerate" from The Women's International Perspective, December 30, 2007.

Reports that the federal prison system has:

  • most inmates of any country
  • 11 percent for violent crimes
  • highest incarceration rates
  • 1/3 of prisoners are non-violent, 1st  offenders
  • growing 4 percent per year
  • 3/4 of prisoners are 1st offenders with no history of violence
  • 55 percent incarcerated are there for drugs
  • almost every 1 in 136 in U.S. incarcerated
  • incarcerated, parolees and those on probation total 7.1 million

Wolff Index

Wolff et al (Human Development Index note) also used persons per police officer, reports of police brutality per 100,000, death row inmates (zero in most countries; low thousands in US), percent households with handgun, murders per year by handgun (50 or less in most countries; about 10,000 in US), murder rate for males 15-24/100,000, rape/100,000, armed robbery/100,000.

There is too much variation among countries statistics for extensive comparisons

One study of robberies per 100,000 found 2003  
  France 210  
  Germany 75  
  Italy 125  
  UK (England-Wales) 190  
  US 145  

"Crime and Punishment in the U.S. & Europe" Julia Wobbe

From p. 3, CJLF Advisory 26:2, Spring 2008, Criminal Justice Legal Foundation. Online copy of report can be found at:

"US prison population dwarfs that of other nations" Adam Litpak

International Herald Tribune, April 23, 2008<\p>

  • Causes of high US rate: more violent crime, harsher sentences, racial discrimination, war on drugs, lack of social safety net, availability of guns.
  • US murder rates are quite high, while assault, burglary, and robbery are comparable or lower than other countries.
  • US has harsh sentences for minor property crimes like passing bad checks.
  • US imprisonment for drugs is far higher than other countries.
  • The US imprisons slightly fewer people than some European countries, but keeps them in prison far longer (16 months for burglary; Canada 5 months, England 7 months).
  • Minorities in Canada, Britain, and Australia incarcerated at rates similar to or higher than US.
  • Locking people up prevents crime and saves money, if the "right people" are locked up.

"What American's Can't Afford," Families Agains Mandatory Minimums, email newsletter

November 9, 2010

  • More people incarcerated in the U.S. than any other country
  • Costs more ($26,000 per year) to incarcerate someone than to send them to college
  • $60 billion in taxes are spent on prisons every year
  • 50% of all federal prisoners and 20% of all state prisoners are drug offenders, often non-violent
  • Former prisoners earn 40% less than men who have never been to prison
  • One in 28 children's mother or father are in prison
  • Treatment and drug courts should be implemented as prisons have grown overcrowded and expensive
  • Children's Defense Fund, email newsletter

    June 9, 2008

    "According to the most recent data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 3,006 children and teens were killed by firearms in 2005, the first increase since 1994 and the first rise in gun deaths since Congress allowed the Assault Weapons Ban to expire in 2004."

    "Supreme Court's Global Influence is Waning" Adam Liptak

    New York Times, September 17, 2008

    According to Liptak, America's judicial rulings has seen a decline in its propensity to influence other courts around the world. Namely, Austrailia, who had cited decisions by American courts over 200 times in 1995, had reduced that number to 72 times ten years later. Litpak suggests that there is ample evidence to show that this is the case not just for Australia, but worldwide.


    Homicide rate for males aged 15 to 124 per 100,000 males

    Survey of households on crime victimization

    Percent of households with a handgun or any firearm

    Death row inmates