The latest Council of Europe (CoE) Annual Penal Statistics (SPACE), published on March 14, said that number of people held in European prisons decreased by 6.8% from 2014 to 2015, although prison overcrowding remained a problem in 15 countries, including Georgia.
The detention rate increased in Georgia in 2014-2015
By Tea Mariamidze
Thursday, March 16
The countries with the highest incarceration rates were:
Russia (439.2 inmates per 100,000 inhabitants)
The Republic of Moldova (219.9)
The Netherlands (53) and some Nordic countries – namely Finland (54.8), Denmark (56.1) and Sweden (58.6) - appear to be those resorting less often to imprisonment and thus registering the lowest rates.
Council of Europe Secretary General Thorbjorn Jagland said that the drop in the overall number of people in prison in Europe is welcome.
“Increasing the use of alternative sentences does not necessarily lead to higher crime rates but can help to reintegrate offenders and tackle overcrowding,” the CoE Secretary General stated.
Significant reductions in the incarceration rate were recorded in Greece (-18.8%), Croatia (-10.2%), Denmark (-11.9%), Northern Ireland (-9.7%), the Netherlands (-9.5%), Lithuania (-8.8%), Romania (- 8.6%) and Slovenia (-8.2%). On the other hand, the incarceration rate grew most in Georgia (+20.5%), “the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia” (+12%), Turkey (+11.6%), the Czech Republic (+11.4%) and Albania (+10.3%).
“Despite the overall reduction in the prison population in 2015, there was no progress at the pan-European level to reduce overcrowding, and the number of inmates remained above available places in one third of the prison administrations,” the report says.
The survey shows that in 2015, inmates serving final sentences represented 73% of the total prison population. Among those prisoners, almost one in five (18.7%) was convicted for drug-related offenses.
“In Italy, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Estonia, Cyprus, Luxembourg, Montenegro and the Russian Federation this proportion was higher: 25% or more of inmates,” the document reads.
The second most common offence for which inmates were serving time was theft (16.2%), followed by homicide (13.2%) and robbery (12.6%).
The SPACE survey is conducted for the Council of Europe by the School of Criminal Sciences of the University of Lausanne, under the direction of Professor Marcelo Aebi.