I find it useful to get students thinking abut quantitative evidence by examining how ignorant we are of the order of magnitude of numbers that nevertheless feature in highly visible public debates. Most probably have some idea that the incarceration rate is higher in the US than UK. But how many people does either jurisdiction lock up, and what ‘should’ the rate be?
PLenty of good data at
The US locks up more people per head than anywhere else, with an incarceration rate of 0.73%. It has 5% of the world’s population but about 25% of the world’s prisoners. With 2.27m it has almost as many as the combined total for Russia and China )
And which part of the UK has fewer prisoners per head than any other? Step forward… Northern Ireland with a rate of 99 per 100,000 pop, compared to 155 for Eng & Wales and 157 for Scotland.