Report: Turkey faces a capacity shortage in prisons
by Yusuf Ziya Durmuş
ISTANBULMar 24, 2015 - 12:00 am GMT+3
by Yusuf Ziya Durmuş
Mar 24, 2015 12:00 am
Parliament's Human Rights Monitoring Committee released a report on its inspection of prisons in the country yesterday.
The report shows that some prisons in the country work above their capacity, such as a prison in the eastern city of Iğdır where inmates are forced to stay in three-bed bunks and beds laid on the floor. Kerim Yıldız, a member of the committee, said 406 inmates were forced to stay in a 320-bed prison.
Prisons in Turkey, largely emptied after a nationwide pardon in 2000, are now nearing capacity with only 3,000 vacancies available according to the latest figures.
The total capacity of prisons in the country is currently 159,475 and they will likely work over capacity as their occupancy rates have tripled.
Committee Chairman Ayhan Sefer Üstün said earlier that prisons housed more than 148,000 men, more than 5,000 women and 2,053 minors. He said that surpassing the capacity was currently out of the question in most prisons, but there could be problems regarding the distribution of inmates in the prisons, with some remaining relatively less crowded, while others struggle with a large number of convicts.
Overcrowded prisons became a thing of the past in the early 2000s following both the amnesty law and a new penal code facilitating releases pending trial. The implementation of a new regulation enabling the suspension of prison sentences further contributed to the release of people convicted of petty crimes. The subsequent reforms on release with judicial review and the uproar against sentences for crimes related to freedom of expression also helped facilitate the decline in Turkey's prison population.
Statistics published following the implementation of the amnesty law have shown that one in every five convicts was back in prison within two years for either the same offense he or she served time for, or another offense.
According to figures from the period between 2000 and 2014, the number of prisoners peaked in 2014, rising from 144,178 in 2013.
Embattled with the rising figures, the Justice Ministry is constantly building new prisons. Currently, there are 365 correctional facilities in the country.