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Prison Stats Show NZers Among Most Imprisoned

Published: Mon 28 Apr 2008 11:32 AM
New Zealand Prison Stats Show New Zealanders Among The Most Imprisoned
www.LawFuel.co.nz – New Zealand Law Jobs & Law Newswire - New Zealand’s prison population places it at the top end of the world prison statistics, according to international data. New Zealand ranks 59 out of 217 countries on the number of prisoners per 100,000 poopulation, with 197 people. The average over all countries is 125 people per 100,000 imprisoned.
New Zealand is well up the ranks in its prison population, ranking 59 out of 217 countries for prisoners-per-100,000, according to international data.
New Zealand has 197 people in jail per 100,000, placing it considerably ahead of the statistics for other OECD countries with more than three-quarters of the group having prison population rates below 140 per 100,000 population. New Zealand is firmly in the upper quartile well above other industrialized countries with much lower rates like England (position 86 with 151 prisoners per 100,000), Germany (position 143/88 per 100,000), Japan (175/63), Canada (123/108), Ireland (161/76).
Iceland, Japan and northern European countries have some of the lowest rates at between 37 and 73 per 100,000 while western and southern European countries have between 80 and 100 per 100,000.
The statistics are kept by data maintained by the International Center for Prison Studies at King’s College London. Australia, by contrast, lies midway down the ‘Prison Chart’ at 102 position with 130 people per 100,000 incarcerated.
New Zealand has 8372 prisoners, according to the report. The median among all nations is about 125, placing New Zealand in the upper league of jailed citizens. The United States, however, takes the prison cake. It leads the figures with with 751 people per 100,000 incarcerated, followed in order by Russia (627), St Kitts & Nevis (588), Virgin Islands (US) (549), Cuba (531) and Turkmenistan (489).
It has a staggering quarter of the world’s prisoners – at 2.3 million - even though it has less than five percent of the world’s population.
By contrast, China, with four times the US population, has 1.6 million people in prison, although that excludes several hundred thousand held in administrative detention, including political activists and others).
San Marino, with a population of about 30,000, is at the end of the long list of 218 countries compiled by the center. It has a single prisoner.
Criminologists and legal experts here and abroad point to a tangle of factors to explain America’s extraordinary incarceration rate: higher levels of violent crime, harsher sentencing laws, a legacy of racial turmoil, a special fervor in combating illegal drugs, the American temperament, and the lack of a social safety net. Even democracy plays a role, as judges — many of whom are elected, another American anomaly — yield to populist demands for tough justice.
Whatever the reason, the gap between American justice and that of the rest of the world is enormous and growing. “Far from serving as a model for the world, contemporary America is viewed with horror,” James Q. Whitman, a specialist in comparative law at Yale, wrote last year in Social Research. “Certainly there are no European governments sending delegations to learn from us about how to manage prisons.”
Prison sentences in the United States have become “vastly harsher than in any other country to which the United States would ordinarily be compared,” Michael H. Tonry, a leading authority on crime policy, wrote in “The Handbook of Crime and Punishment.”
ENDS

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