Almost a quarter of the world's prison population is locked up in one country: the United States.
For years, the U.S. has held the infamous reputation of having the highest per capita rate of incarcerated individuals on the planet, dwarfing that of other comparable industrialized nations. There were 1.6 million state and federal prisoners in the country as of 2011, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, which reports 492 out of every 100,000 U.S. residents were sentenced to more than 12 months in prison that year.
After a year of persistent increases, the U.S. Justice Department in December reported the number of adults in state and federal prisons had finally declined from 2010 and 2011 level. That primarily occurred after 26 states, led by California, each shed at least 1,000 state prisoners to combat overcrowding and rein in costs.