Finland has the lowest rate in any EU country, and is second only to Iceland among 40 of the 47 CoE member states which took part in the study.
Last year 102.5 people out of every 100,000 in Europe were in prison – that’s a drop of 6.6% from the year before.
The lowest incarceration rates were found in Iceland (46.8), Finland (51.1), Netherlands (54.4), Sweden (56.5), Denmark (63.2) and Norway (65.4).
The highest incarceration rates were all found in former Eastern Bloc countries like Russia (418.3), Georgia (252.2), Azerbaijan (235) and Lithuania (234.9) – the highest of any EU country.
However the low incarceration rates don’t tell the whole story.
The study, which was carried out by researchers at the University of Lausanne in France, finds that Finland is above median for the number of female prisoners, prison crowding, the number of foreigners in jail and the percentage of prisoners who committed suicide.
Finland also ranks near the top of the list for the number of people who escape from prison each year.