The Slovenia Times

Incarceration rate in Slovenia among lowest in Europe despite record rise

Slovenia's largest prison at Dob. Photo: Rasto Božič/STA

The Council of Europe penal statistics for 2022 show that incarceration rates increased in Europe following the lifting of coronavirus measures, in particular in Slovenia, which saw a 23% hike. However, with 66 inmates per 100,000 people, Slovenia remains among the countries with the lowest share of prisoners.

After the lockdown ended the incarceration rate rose by 2.3% on average in countries with more than one million people. The countries coming closest to Slovenia were Finland and France, which both recorded 15% increases, shows the report.

Finland had the lowest rate, 50, while Turkey had the worst record with 355 inmates per 100,000 people. At the end of January 2022, the average for countries with more than one million people was 104.

The Council of Europe noted that the average rate of imprisonment in Europe has been falling slowly but steadily over the past 12 years and is lower than the rate recorded at the beginning of 2020.

Slovenia is however one of the countries where the incarceration rate has increased long-term, by 17% since 2005. However, it has been stable over the last ten years.

While the country saw its issue of overcrowded prisons mitigated by the pandemic, when a special law was passed that allowed suspended the sentences of inmates that were close to serving out their prison time, it now again ranks among the countries with high prison density.

At 102 inmates per 100 available spots, Slovenia is in a similar situation as Croatia (103), Austria (100), Sweden (100) and Hungary (99).

The Slovenian Justice Ministry acknowledged that overcrowding is an issue but said the situation will improve once the new prison for 388 inmates in Ljubljana, which is under construction, is completed, presumably in 2025.

The average prison occupancy in Europe increased by 4.8% from January 2021 to January 2022, from 87.4 to 91.6 prisoners per 100 available spots.

Meanwhile, Slovenia is among the countries with the lowest share of inmates aged 50 or over (11%), among those with a high ratio of inmates per one staff member (1.5 compared to median value of 1.4), among the 18 countries with very high prison suicide rates (21.7 per 10,000), and among the countries with very low rates of escapes.


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