Prison Population in South America

Which South American countries have the largest prison population, relative to its population size?

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Map of the prison population rate in South America.

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On this map we can see how many inmates every country has per 100,000 inhabitants.

Brazil (382) and Uruguay (333) have by far the highest prison population rate in South America. Overall, the prison population rate in South America is fairly high.

The lowest rates can be found in Venezuela (132), Suriname (141) and Bolivia(148). Which compared to Europe and Asia, are still pretty high.

The data for this map comes from the UNODC. So, does this data tell anything about the quality of the justice system, crime rates or effectiveness of the law enforcement? Well, that’s hard to tell. For some countries, the high prison population could be linked to the poor state of democracy in those countries. Resulting in a higher number of political prisoners.

But for the other countries, is a high prison population rate the result of a high crime rate or is the law enforcement very tough and effective? These numbers sadly don’t give an answer to this. However, if you want to answer those questions, you need to take a lot more statistics into account than just the prison population rate.

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