I accidently came across the Department of Prisons website in Sri Lanka recently and found that they have some interesting statistics. Having never researched on the area, it was quite exciting to know that we have access to very detailed information in an area which, though sad, has increasingly been in the news in recent times. The information available include basic information on people who carry out offenses (i.e. by age, marital status), the type of offenses, those released under various schemes (i.e. work release, home leave), value of industrial and agricultural output by prisoners, escapee, and more. For example, a majority of the convicted prisoners in 2011 are reported to be in the 30-under 40 category (32% of the total convicted), closely followed 40 and under 50 year olds. In terms of literacy, of the total 27,018 convicted prisoners (direct admissions) a majority of over 7000 prisoners are those who have passed Grade 8. Close to 42% are first time offenders, while 37% are reconvicted and 22% recidivists. Most of these prisoners spend a length of 3-6 months in prison. Furthermore, there had been 286 escapes of prisoners in 2011, with 112 recaptures and 174 still at large (from escapees in 2011).
Other information such as the value of industrial and agricultural output of prisoners reveal that they contributed close to Rs. 142 million through economic activities (over 40% of this has come through bakery). It is interesting to compare these with the numbers spent on them, yearly. The incurred recurrent expenditure alone in 2011 was a total of 3,362,171,827. Average cost per prisoner per year has been approximately Rs. 135, 937 of which close to Rs. 47,000 is spent on food.
The above is just a tad of the information available. What is more important is to find out how these statics are used/can be used. It will be interesting to find out how they can been used to identify areas that need more attention in addressing the rates of crime/offenses in the country, or in analyzing the economic implications of the current prison population.
More related statistics, http://www.prisons.gov.lk/Statistics/statistic.html