Brazil still has world’s 3RD largest prison population

Data from Infopen released on Friday, February 14, show that the country has 773,000 prisoners; 8.6% more than in 2018

Brazil remains in 3rd place in the ranking of countries with the largest number of prisoners. According to data from Infopen, the statistical information system of Depen (National Prison Department), published this Friday, February 14, the country has 773,151 prisoners. 

The data from the Ministry of Justice are from June 2019 and represent an increase of 8.6% from the same period in 2018.

The United States and China, respectively, with 2.1 million and 1.7 million prisoners each, are the countries that imprison the most people, according to World Prison Brief, an international prison database hosted by the Institute for Crime & Justice Research (ICPR) of Birkbeck College, University of London.

“These data are the result of a populist and ineffective criminal policy. Brazil incarcerates a lot and in a disorderly manner, and it does not provide dignified conditions in prisons, with poor access to health and employment (18%) and education (14%). The data reveal a chronic crisis whose resolution requires urgent measures, through changes to legislation, for example by expanding the alternative sentences for non-violent crimes, reviewing the Drug Law and reducing pre-trial detention,” said Gabriel Sampaio, coordinator of the program to Combat Institutional Violence at Conectas.

“It’s worth noting that the Brazilian prison system is the stage of serious rights violations, it primarily affects black youth and it does not promote the social reintegration of prisoners, as determined by our legislation,” he added.

Pre-trial detainees

The survey also reveals that Brazil has one of the highest numbers of people detained without a conviction: 268,438 pre-trial detainees, which represents 34.7% of the national prison population. India is the only country that exceeds this figure, with more than 323,000 unconvicted prisoners, or 69.4% of its prison population of 466,000, according to public data released by the World Prison Brief.

The number of pre-trial detainees in Brazil exceeds the total prisoners in the state of São Paulo, which is the state with the highest prison population in the country. São Paulo has 236,534 prisoners, 12% less.


The Infopen report from June 2019, published this Friday, also states that the number of prisoners in Brazil exceeds the total number of available prison places by 38.4%. There are 461,026 places for 758,676 prisoners – the other 14,475 are detainees in police lockups.

>>> Access the Infopen data from June 2019

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