Children in detention in the justice system: Americas

CRIN has compiled information published on the number of child offenders detained in the criminal justice system to highlight the information available as well as the gaps. All sources used in the compilation of this information are referenced and links are included. If you are aware of any errors or inaccuracies in this information, please contact us at info@crin.org.

     

    Antigua and Barbuda

During its 2015 report to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, Antigua and Barbuda reported that 17 children were enroled at the Boy’s Training School for a criminal offence or because they were in need of care and protection under national law. The State reported that this figure was in line with the average for the previous 10 years (CRC/C/ATG/2-4, para. 279).

 

    Argentina

During its 2010 report to the Committee on the Rights of the Child, Argentina provided figures for the number of children held in institutions involving “strict deprivation of liberty”. The State also reported that as of 2008, 1,799 children were detained in some kind of facility (CRC/C/ARG/Q/3-4/Add.1, para. 362).

2002: 452

2003: 423

2004: 381

2005: 321

2006: 327

2007: 250

These figures were provided by the SENNAF juvenile criminal circuit and did not include other forms of deprivation of liberty. For further information, see the full report (CRC/C/ARG/3-4, paras. 966 to 972).

 

    Bahamas

Detention figures published by UNODC are very limited for the Bahamas, but indicate that as of 2012, 35 children were detained in prisons, penal institutions or correctional institutions in the country, a rate of 34.9 per 100,000.

These figures are the number of children detained on a specific day and exclude detention for non-criminal purposes.

 

    Barbados

Detention figures published by UNODC are very limited for Barbados, but indicate very high rates of detention of children in prisons, penal institutions or correctional institutions in the two years covered by the figures.

2009: 67 (99.5 per 100,000)

2014: 61 (92.2 per 100,000)

These figures are the number of children detained on a specific day and exclude detention for non-criminal purposes.

 

    Belize

Figures published by UNODC for the number of children detained in prisons, penal institutions or correctional institutions in Belize are limited to 2005 to 2009. Available figures show a decline in the number of children detained in these facilities, but continuing high rate detention.

2005: 56 (43.5 per 100,000)

2006: 45 (34.5 per 100,000)

2007: not reported

2008: not reported

2009: 28 (20.8 per 100,000)

These figures are the number of children detained on a specific day and exclude detention for non-criminal purposes.

 

    Bolivia

Figures published by UNODC for the number of children detained in prisons, penal institutions or correctional institutions in Bolivia are limited and no figures were reported between 2007 and 2011. However, the available statistics indicate a substantial rise in the number of children detained in these facilities across this period.

2005: 559 (14.2 per 100,000)

2006: 725 (18.3 per 100,000)

2007-2011: not reported

2012: 1,874 (45.7 per 100,000)

These figures are the number of children detained on a specific day and exclude detention for non-criminal purposes.

 

    Brazil

The Secretariat for human Rights publishes an annual report on adolescents under socio-educative measures, which includes the number of children deprived of their liberty in the criminal justice system.

2010: 17,703

2011: 19,595

2012: 20,532

2013: 18,490

These figures include children held under sentences of Internação Provisória, Semiliberdade and Internação.

Figures published by UNODC  on the number of children detained in penal institutions or correctional institutions in Brazil perfectly match those published by the annual report of the Secretariat for Human Rights, with the exception of in 2011 and 2013. The 2013 figures reported match those published by the Secretariat including people detained up to the age of 21.

2009: 17.856 (29.4 per 100,000)

2010: 17,703 (29.3 per 100,000)

2011: 20,023 (33.4 per 100,000)

2012: 20,532 (34.4 per 100,000)

2013: 23,725 (39.9 per 100,000)

These UNODC figures are the number of children detained on a specific day and exclude detention for non-criminal purposes.

 

    Canada

Canada produces annual Youth Correctional Statistics, including on the number of children in custody by province and territory.

2013/14: 1,019 (excludes Quebec and Alberta, but includes pre-trial detention)

2014/15: 1,040 (excludes Quebec, includes pre-trial detention)

Figures published by UNODC show a steady decline in the number of children detained in prisons, penal institutions or correctional institutions in Canada between 2003 and 2013. If these figures were accurate, then across this period, the number of children detained in these facilities fell by almost 60 percent. However, the figures published by UNODC match those from the Youth Correctional Statistics in 2013, which excluded two Canadian states. It is not clear if the statistics for the other years were complete.

2003: 2,406 (23.1 per 100,000)

2004: 2,233 (31.9 per 100,000)

2005: 2,014 (28.8 per 100,000)

2006: 2,018 (28.9 per 100,000)

2007: 1,898 (28.8 per 100,000)

2008: 1,898 (27.2 per 100,000)

2009: 1,810 (26 per 100,000)

2010: 1,720 (24.8 per 100,000)

2011: 1,456 (20.9 per 100,000)

2012: 1,270 (19.7 per 100,000)

2013: 1,019 (14.7 per 100,000)

These UNODC figures are the number of children detained on a specific day and exclude detention for non-criminal purposes.

 

    Chile

Figures published by UNODC show a rapid increase in the number of children detained in prisons, penal institutions or correctional institutions between 2006 and 2007, an increase of 370 percent. However, UNODC notes that during this period, there was a change in definition or counting rules, so the figures may not be comparable across the full timeframe.

2005: 263 (5.6 per 100,000)

2006: 273 (5.8 per 100,000)

2007: 1,285 (27.6 per 100,000)

2008: 1,572 (34.1 per 100,000)

2009: 1,750 (38.3 per 100,000)

2010: 1,844 (40.6 per 100,000)

2011: 1,690 (37.5 per 100,000)

2012: 1,882 (42 per 100,000)

2013: 1,706 (38.3 per 100,000)

2014: 1,575 (35.6 per 100,000)

These UNODC figures are the number of children detained on a specific day and exclude detention for non-criminal purposes.

 

    Colombia

Figures published by UNODC for the number of children detained in prisons, penal institutions or correctional institutions in Colombia show a substantial upward trend between 2008 and 2013. During this period, the number of children held in these facilities rose by almost 300 percent.

2008: 462 (3.1 per 100,000)

2009: 1,219 (8.3 per 100,000)

2010: 1,584 (10.8 per 100,000)

2011: not reported

2012: not reported

2013: 1,795 (12.5 per 100,000)

These figures are the number of children detained on a specific day and exclude detention for non-criminal purposes.

 

    Costa Rica

Figures published by UNODC show that the number and rate of children detained in prisons, penal institutions or correctional institutions has been rising since 2007, particularly sharply between 2013 and 2014, which saw an increase of more than 150 percent.

2005: 26 (1.8 per 100,000)

2006: 26 (1.9 per 100,000)

2007: 24 (1.7 per 100,000)

2008: 33 (2.4 per 100,000)

2009: 50 (3.6 per 100,000)

2010: 59 (4.3 per 100,000)

2011: 72 (5.3 per 100,000)

2012: 88 (6.5 per 100,000)

2013: 92 (6.9 per 100,000)

2014: 234 (17.7 per 100,000)

These figures are the number of children detained on a specific day and exclude detention for non-criminal purposes.

 

    Cuba

CRIN has been unable to locate statistics on the number of children detained in prisons, penal institutions or correctional institutions in Cuba.

 

    Dominica

The United States state department reports that as of 2013, five “juveniles” were detained in Stockfarm Prison in Dominica. This figure is in line with the estimated 2 percent of the prison population reported to be under the age of 18 as reported by the World Prison Brief.

 

    Dominican Republic

Figures published by UNODC are very limited on the number of children detained in prisons, penal institutions or correctional institutions in the Dominican Republic, but indicate that as of 2006, 360 children were held in these facilities, a rate of 9.8 per 100,000.

During the State’s 2015 review by the Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC/C/DOM/3-5, Table 46), it reported provided detention figures for the period 2006 to 2010, including pre-trial detention.

2006: 430

2007: 323

2008: 223

2009: 236

These figures were provided by the Attorney-General’s office.

 

    Ecuador

Figures published by UNODC for the number of children detained in prisons, penal institutions or correctional institutions in Ecuador only cover 2012 to 2014. During this period, the number of children detained in these facilities has fluctuated, but trend has emerged.

2012: 479 (8.7 per 100,000)

2013: 631 (11.4 per 100,000)

2014: 505 (9.1 per 100,000)

These figures are the number of children detained on a specific day and exclude detention for non-criminal purposes.

During its 2016 report to the Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC/C/ECU/5-6, para. 211), Ecuador stated that as of December 2015, the total population of “internment centres for juvenile offenders” was 628. However, the State reported that these facilities included accommodation for young adults aged 18 to 24 and it is not clear what proportion of those detained are children.

 

    El Salvador

Figures published by UNODC for the number of children detained in prisons, penal institutions or correctional institutions in El Salvador have been rising since 2005, but increased significantly between 2008 and 2009 by more than 145 percent in one year. It is not clear if this increase is a statistical reality or a result of changing the way that the figures were recorded and reported.

2005: 376 (15.7 per 100,000)

2006: 507 (21.4 per 100,000)

2007: 605 (25.9 per 100,000)

2008: 621 (26.9 per 100,000)

2009: 1,530 (67.2 per 100,000)

2010: 1,552 (29.2 per 100,000)

2011: 1,606 (72.9 per 100,000)

2012: 1,385 (64.1 per 100,000)

2013: 1,340 (63.3 per 100,000)

2014: 1,360 (65.5 per 100,000)

These figures are the number of children detained on a specific day and exclude detention for non criminal purposes.

 

    Grenada

The World Prison Brief reports that as of 2013, 4.6 percent of the prison population in Grenada was under the age of 18. If this rate were relatively stable, an estimated 22 children would have been detained in these facilities as of 2014.

 

    Guatemala

The World Prison Brief reports that as of August 2013, 4.6 percent of the prison population in Guatemala were “minors”. If this rate were stable, an estimated 848 children would have been detained in these facilities as of 2014.

 

    Guyana

Figures published by UNODC show that the number of children detained in prisons, penal institutions or correctional institutions fluctuated between 2004 and 2011, but rose dramatically in 2012.

2004: 25 (8.1 per 100,000)

2005: 22 (7.1 per 100,000)

2006: 22 (7.1 per 100,000)

2007: 28 (9 per 100,000)

2008: 34 (11 per 100,000)

2009: 30 (9.8 per 100,000)

2010: 16 (5.2 per 100,000)

2011: 16 (5.3 per 100,000)

2012: 76 (25.7 per 100,000)

These figures are the number of children detained on a specific day and exclude detention for non-criminal purposes.

 

    Haiti

The World Prison Brief reports that as of December 2015, 2.4 percent of the prison population in Haiti were under the age of 18. If this figure remained stable, an estimated 241 children would have been detained in these facilities as of 2014.

 

    Honduras

Figures published by UNODC on the number of children detained in prisons, penal institutions or correctional institutions in Honduras are very limited, but indicate that as of 2011, 274 children were detained in these facilities, a rate of 8.6 per 100,000.

These figures are the number of children detained on a specific day and exclude detention for non-criminal purposes.

 

    Jamaica

Figures published by UNODC show a general downward trend in the number of children detained in prisons, penal institutions or correctional institutions in Jamaica between 2010 and 2014.

2009: 308 (33.2 per 100,000)

2010: not reported

2011: 434 (48.5 per 100,000)

2012: 338 (38.5 per 100,000)

2013: 283 (33 per 100,000)

2014: 239 (28.5 per 100,000)

These figures are the number of children detained on a specific day and exclude detention for non-criminal purposes.

  

  Mexico

Figures published by UNODC for the number of children detained in prisons, penal institutions or correctional institutions in Mexico jumped dramatically between 2007 and 2009 (from 841 to 11,728), but the statistics provided by the State changed the definitions or counting rules during this period and details of the change in recording are not detailed in the data.

2003: 3,078 (7.3 per 100,000)

2004: 2,658 (6.3 per 100,000)

2005: 2,451 (5.8 per 100,000)

2006: 1,168 (2.8 per 100,000)

2007: 841 (2 per 100,000)

2008: not reported

2009: 11,728 (27.6 per 100,000)

2010: 11,239 (26.4 per 100,000)

2011: 11,684 (27.5 per 100,000)

2012: 10,583 (24.9 per 100,000)

2013: 10,963 (25.8 per 100,000)

These figures are the number of children detained on a specific day and exclude detention for non-criminal purposes.

   

Nicaragua

Figures published by UNODC only include the number of children detained in prisons, penal institutions or correctional institutions in Nicaragua between 2005 and 2010, but the figures remained relatively stable across this period at a low rate compared to the rest of Latin America.

2005: 65 (2.8 per 100,000)

2006: 60 (2.6 per 100,000)

2007: 58 (2.5 per 100,000)

2008: 56 (2.5 per 100,000)

2009: 53 (2.3 per 100,000)

2010: 76 (3.4 per 100,000)

These figures are the number of children detained on a specific day and exclude detention for non-criminal purposes.

 

    Panama

Figures published by UNODC show a dramatic rise in the in the number of children detained in prisons, penal institutions or correctional institutions in Panama between 2012 and 2013 rising to the highest rate of detention of children reported worldwide by UNODC that year.

2004: 615 (52.1 per 100,000)

2005: 691 (58.1 per 100,000)

2006: 614 (51.3 per 100,000)

2007: 477 (39.6 per 100,000)

2008: 566 (46.6 per 100,000)

2009: 660 (53.9 per 100,000)

2010: not reported

2011: 993 (79.7 per 100,000)

2012: 903 (71.9 per 100,000)

2013: 1,265 (100.1 per 100,000)

These figures are the number of children detained on a specific day and exclude detention for non-criminal purposes. Panama changed the definitions or counting rules for supplying statistics to UNODC during this period, but it is not clear at what stage this change took place and how it affected data collection.

 

    Paraguay

Figures published by UNODC show a substantial increase in the number of children detained in prisons, penal institutions or correctional institutions in Paraguay between 2009 and 2014, a rise of more than 60 percent during this period.

2009: 198 (8.1 per 100,000)

2010: 220 (9 per 100,000)

2011: 221 (9.1 per 100,000)

2012: 278 (11.4 per 100,000)

2013: 293 (12.1 per 100,000)

2014: 319 (13.2 per 100,000)

These figures are the number of children detained on a specific day and exclude detention for non-criminal purposes.

 

    Peru

CRIN has not been able to locate comprehensive statistics for the number of children detained in the criminal justice system in Peru, but news reports released in 2013 indicate that an estimated 1,000 children were held in the Youth Rehabilitation Center of Lima that year, though it was only designed to hold 370.

 

    Saint Kitts and Nevis

Figures published by UNODC are limited for Saint Kitts and Nevis but show very high rates of detention of children in prisons, penal institutions or correctional institutions between 2009 and 2011. In 2010, the rate of detention in these facilities was more than 2.5 times that of any other country reported in UNODC’s statistics.

2009: 13 (91.8 per 100,000)

2010: 41 (292.8 per 100,000)

2011: 35 (252.1 per 100,000)

These figures are the number of children detained on a specific day and exclude detention for non-criminal purposes.

 

    Saint Lucia

In 2013 The Government of Saint Lucia conducted a performance audit of the Boys Training Centre in the country. At the time of the audit 20 children were detained under care and protection orders and 18 for committing offences (para. 3.12).

 

    Saint Vincent and the Grenadines

Figures published by UNODC show fluctuations in the number of children detained in prisons, penal institutions or correctional institutions in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines between 2004 and 2014, but that there has been a general downward trend in the number of children detained in these facilities.

2004: 224 (61.3 per 100,000)

2005: 205 (57.5 per 100,000)

2006: 192 (54.9 per 100,000)

2007: 181 (52.7 per 100,000)

2008: 180 (53.2 per 100,000)

2009: 189 (56.4 per 100,000)

2010: 198 (59.5 per 100,000)

2011: 213 (64.2 per 100,000)

2012: 179 (53.9 per 100,000)

2013: 168 (50.6 per 100,000)

2014: 151 (45.3 per 100,000)

These figures are the number of children detained on a specific day and exclude detention for non-criminal purposes.

 

    Suriname

The World Prison Brief reports that as of 2005, 5.7 percent of the prison population of Suriname were “minors”, meaning that an estimated 47 children were detained in these facilities as of that year.

 

    Trinidad and Tobago

Figures published by UNODC show fluctuations in the number of children detained in prisons, penal institutions or correctional institutions in Trinidad and Tobago, though between 2004 and 2014, there has been a generally downward trend in the number of children detained in these facilities.

2004: 224 (61.3 per 100,000)

2005: 205 (57.5 per 100,000)

2006: 192 (54.9 per 100,000)

2007: 181 (52.7 per 100,000)

2008: 180 (53.2 per 100,000)

2009: 189 (56.4 per 100,000)

2010: 198 (59.5 per 100,000)

2011: 213 (64.2 per 100,000)

2012: 179 (53.9 per 100,000)

2013: 168 (50.6 per 100,000)

2014: 151 (45.3 per 100,000)

These figures are the number of children detained on a specific day and exclude detention for non-criminal purposes.

 

    United States of America

The United States Census of Juveniles in Residential Placement, published by the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention is carried out every two years. These figures include any person who has been assigned a bed in a residential facility on the day of the census, charged with an offence or court-adjudicated for an offence, and is in residential placement because of that offence.

1997: 92,406

1999: 94,086

2003: 88,155

2006: 79,612

2007: 73,293

2010: 60,861

2011: 52,548

2013: 46,061

Figures published by UNODC are significantly lower than those produced as part of the national census, but indicate a similar downward trend in the number of children detained in prisons, penal institutions or correctional institutions in the United States fell sharply from 2010 to 2014, decreasing by almost 50 percent.

2004: 9,568 (13 per 100,000)

2005: 8,967 (12.2 per 100,000)

2006: 8,466 (11.5 per 100,000)

2007: 9,472 (12.8 per 100,000)

2008: 10,420 (14 per 100,000)

2009: 9,998 (13.5 per 100,000)

2010: 10,339 (13.9 per 100,000)

2011: 7,700 (10.4 per 100,000)

2012: 6,800 (9.2 per 100,000)

2013: 5,800 (7.9 per 100,000)

2014: 5,200 (7.1 per 100,000)

These UNODC figures are the number of children detained on a specific day and exclude detention for non-criminal purposes.

 

    Uruguay

Figures published by UNODC for the number of children detained in prisons, penal institutions or correctional institutions in Uruguay are very limited and do not include anything more recent than 2004. However, at the time, they indicated a rate of detention much lower than other Latin American states.

2003: 50 (5.2 per 100,000)

2004: 42 (4.4 per 100,000)

These figures are the number of children detained on a specific day and exclude detention for non-criminal purposes.

Figures provided to the World Prison Brief by SIRPA, the System of Penal Responsibility for Adolescents, are much higher than those published by UNODC, indicating that as of Ocobter 2015, 680 children were deprived of their liberty in SIRPA facilities.

 

    Venezuela

CRIN has not been able to locate statistics on the number of children detained within the criminal justice system in Venezuela.