Council of Europe: overcrowded prisons and longer sentences. Critical situation in Macedonia and Hungary

(Strasbourg) “European prisons are on average close to full capacity, with inmates occupying over 9 out of ten available places”. This is according to the Council of Europe Annual Penal Statistics (SPACE), with data referring to 2016, published today in Strasbourg. The survey shows that “the incarceration rate grew from 115.7 to 117.1 inmates per 100,000 inhabitants” from 2015 to 2016. The CoE study explains that the incarceration rate “is mainly influenced by the length of the sanctions and measures imposed. In that perspective, the average length of detention, which can be seen as an indicator of the way criminal law is applied, increased slightly to 8.5 months”. The countries where the incarceration rate grew the most were Bulgaria (+10.8%), Turkey (+9.5%), the Czech Republic (+7.6%), Serbia (+6.6%) and Denmark (+5.5%). The prison administrations where it fell the most were Iceland (-15.9%) and Northern Ireland (-11.8). On the other hand, “overcrowding remained a serious problem in many countries. Thirteen out of 47 prison administrations” – 47 is the number of CoE member states – “reported having more inmates than places to host them”. The highest levels of overcrowding were observed in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (132 prisoners per 100 places available), Hungary (132), Cyprus (127), Belgium (120), France (117), Portugal (109), Italy (109), Serbia (109), Albania (108), the Czech Republic (108), Romania (106), and Turkey (103).