Prisoners Worldwide by Jurisdiction and Sex, 2003 & 2010

face of a prisoner
Reference point: sheet: sex-ratio distribution

Prisoners worldwide by jurisdiction and sex for 2003 and 2010, with summary statistics on the prisoner sex-ratio distribution, by region, income group, and relative to parliamentary sex ratios. With corresponding gender and development indicators.

This dataset, called the Adapted Walmsley Worldwide Prisoner Dataset (AWPD), contains prisoner counts and the sex composition of prisoners for jurisdictions worldwide about the years 2003 and 2010. AWPD also includes relevant geographic, demographic, and socio-economic data by jurisdiction to support analysis of prisoner statistics. Additional sheets in the AWPD workbook provide summary statistics and correlations for prisoner sex ratios and prisoner prevalence.

For 2010, AWPD includes 212 jurisdictions covering 98% of the world populations. An international jurisdiction crosswalk aids matching AWPD data with the United Nations Surveys on Crime Trends, the World Bank World Development Indicators (WDI), and the United Nations Human Development Indicators (HDI). To streamline analysis, the AWPD already includes the three-letter country code for matching into tables of the World Development Indicators. AWPD also already includes WDI matched values for the resident population, labor force participation by males and females, urbanization, and sex ratio of representatives in parliament. It also includes matched-in HDI development and gender-equality indices.

While most of the jurisdictions in the AWPD are countries, the AWPD also includes some territories under the control of other countries. That can create some misalignment when keying into other datasets. The AWPD includes statistics for England & Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland as separate jurisdictions. To facilitate matching with other datasets, an encompassing record for the United Kingdom has been created. More generally, the “rt” field indicates the record type/aggregation level for the given record. Including both encompassing records (rt=”e”) and their components (rt=”s”) in a calculation is a double-counting mistake.

Users of AWPD should carefully consider missing values. Not all jurisdictions have reported prisoner counts for both 2003 and 2010. Some jurisdictions that report prisoner counts have not reported the share of female prisoners. Matched in data from the World Development Indicators has missing values, particularly for jurisdictions that are not countries.

Users of AWPD should beware of top-coded values in sex-ratio variables. Where the reported female share of prisoners is zero, the prisoner sex ratio (males to females) is infinite. Infinite values have been top-coded as 99999 to get correct quartile statistics. Calculations based on the sex ratios that do not account for top-coding will produce incorrect values. Use the female share for calculating the number of male and female prisoners.

The Adapted Walmsley Worldwide Prisoner Dataset is named in honor of Roy Walmsley’s outstanding contribution to the compilation of prisoner data. Walmsley worked on a national prisoner survey for Great Britain in 1991. In 2000, Walmsley reviewed prisoner statistics from the Sixth United Nations Survey on Trends and Operation of Criminal Justice. That survey was not a comprehensive account of the world prisoner population. In 2001, Walmsley made the first attempt at a complete account of the world prison population. Walmsley subsequently published multiple editions of the World Prison Population List. The prison statistics project that Walmsley pioneered is now hosted through the International Centre for Prison Studies (ICPS) at Essex University. ICPS is the best source for the most up-to-date prisoner statistics worldwide.

The AWPD includes Walmsley prisoner statistics from about the year 2003 and 2010. Those AWPD statistics are based on Walmsley statistics published or posted about the year 2005 and 2012. Because different jurisdictions have different reporting practices and the Walmsley statistics are updated at different frequencies across jurisdictions, these reporting years are approximate. The source statistics have been converted to uniform numerical values. That means that indications of approximation have been dropped, and reported numbers accepted as the best-available figures. Users looking for the authoritative Walmsley statistics should go to Walmsley’s publications or the ICPS. Walmsley and the ICPS bear no responsibility for the AWPD.

Dataset sheets:

  • sex-ratio distributions: prisoner sex-ratio distribution summary statistics for about 2003 and 2010, with corresponding sex-ratio distributions for members of parliament
  • by groups: prisoner sex-ratios worldwide by region and income groups
  • Adapted Walmsley Dataset: prisoners worldwide by jurisdiction and sex, about 2003 and 2010
  • sex-ratio correlation: correlation of the prisoner sex ratio with the United Nations’ Gender Inequality Index
  • prevalence correlation: correlation of prisoner prevalence with the United Nations’ Human Development Index
  • HDR HDI, HDR gender, HDR HDI history, HDR gender history: source tables from the United Nations’ Human Development Report

Related datasets:

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