The figures released Friday by a state-run statistics agency indicate a 13.2 percent rise in Turkey's prison population as of Dec. 31, 2016, compared to the same period in 2015. The number of jailed people rose to 200,727, the Turkish Statistical Agency (TurkStat) said in a statement. TurkStat said 63.8 percent of this population was convicts, while the rest were being detained on charges. Men make up 95.8 percent of the country's prison population.
Turkey saw a surge in arrests and convictions last year as it battled the coup attempt by the Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ) and due to an increase in counterterrorism operations. Following the coup attempt that killed 249 people, thousands were detained or arrested, while operations continue almost daily to capture more FETÖ-linked suspects.
The statistics indicate that 251 people out of every 100,000 were in prison in 2016, compared to 225 in 2015. The number of convicts placed in prison was 187,730 between January and December 2016.
As for juvenile delinquents, figures show only 982 people between the ages of 12 and 17 were sent to prison last year, although it still points to a 13 percent increase when compared to 2015.
Theft was the most common crime for repeat offender convicts sent to prison, followed by assault, financial crimes, illegal narcotics production and homicide. The majority of the convicts were grade school and high school graduates. TurkStat figures show the most committed crime among convicts who graduated from universities were offenses related to the bankruptcy and enforcement law, which covers financial crimes, ranging from check fraud to failure to pay debts.
The steady rise in prison population has forced the government to build new prisons across the country, which currently has 384. The Justice Ministry plans to build 45 prisons in the next two years according to media outlets and to prevent overcrowding by introducing new cells that hold a maximum of three people.