Turkish prisons are holding 51,320 more prisoners than their overall capacity, the BirGün daily reported, citing the latest data from the Directorate General of Prisons and Detention Houses.
The official data revealed that Turkish prisons were hosting 341,294 people as of December — 51,320 people, or 17.7 percent, over capacity.
According to the data the number of inmates in Turkish prisons, which have the capacity to safely hold 289,974 people, reached a record high in 2022.
Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) government has allocated 8.7 billion lira for the construction of 36 new prisons between 2023 and 2025, which will significantly increase Turkey’s already high incarceration rate. The number of Turkish penal institutions will increase to 419 in 2025.
There are currently 399 prisons in Turkey with the capacity to hold 289,974 people.
The Council of Europe’s (CoE) latest annual report revealed that Turkey had the second-highest incarceration rate of the 47 CoE countries in 2021, with 325 prisoners per 100,000 inhabitants.
The CoE report also showed that Turkey had the sixth most crowded prisons in Europe, with 108 inmates per 100 available places on Jan. 31, 2021, with the ratio of inmates per one prison staff member being 3.9, the highest figure among the 47 countries.
Mass detentions and arrests have been taking place in Turkey since a coup attempt on July 15, 2016. The AKP government accuses the faith-based Gülen movement of masterminding the failed coup, although the movement strongly denies any involvement.
Critics accuse President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who embarked on a massive crackdown on the opposition after the coup attempt, of using the incident as a pretext to quash dissent.