In the last two decades, there has been an extraordinary growth in incarceration rates in South America, with some variations across national contexts but generally in line with the same trend. Twenty years ago, incarceration rates were relatively low in most countries in the region; despite that knowledge, it has proved difficult to reconstruct the official data for that period. In 1992, with the exclusion of the small countries with less than one million inhabitants in the Northern region of South America such as Guyana, French Guyana and Surinam, only three countries had 100 prisoners or more per 100,000 inhabitants: Uruguay (100), Venezuela (133) and Chile (154) (see Figure 1). Several other national contexts reflected ‘Scandinavian’ rates, such as Argentina (62), Peru (69), Ecuador (75) and Brazil (74).
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