Prison populations around the world have much in common. They are virtually always dominated by poor, uneducated, unemployed young men, often from minority groups. Indigenous groups are also over-represented. For example, in New Zealand 45% of inmates are Maori, although they comprise only 14% of the national population (Stern 1998:32-33). In Australia, aborigines are more than nine times more likely to be arrested, more than six times more likely to be imprisoned, and 23 times more likely to be imprisoned as juveniles (Broadhurst 1997: 410).

In the US, African Americans form 12.7% of the population but make up 48.2% of adults in prison. Hispanics constitute 11.1% of the national population but form 18.6% of the prison population. Native Americans are less than 1.0% of the population, but 4.0% of adults in this group are incarcerated. This holds true for Canada, where indigenous women make up only 3% of females in the country, but comprise 29% of the female prison population.

Source: Human Rights in African Prisons, Sarkin, Jeremy (ed.) Page 8