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EU Prisons in 2021: Populations & Overcrowding

In 2021, there were 475 038 prisoners in the EU, equivalent to 106 prisoners per 100 000 people. The prisoner rate increased after a decline in 2020 (104 prisoners per 100 000 people) but remained the second-lowest figure since the turn of the century.

Bar chart: prisoners, 2020-2021 (per 100 00 people)

Source dataset: crim_pris_cap

The highest prisoner rates per 100 000 people in 2021 were in Hungary and Poland (both 191), followed by Slovakia (185). The lowest rates were in Finland (51), Slovenia (54), and the Netherlands (65). In 14 out of the 26 EU countries that provided data, the prisoner rate increased compared with 2020.

Eight EU countries experienced overcrowded cells in 2021

In 2021, 8 EU countries experienced overcrowded prison cells, while 17 countries had extra capacity. The prison occupancy rate is the number of prisoners relative to the official capacity (design capacity) of prisons, multiplied by 100. Overcrowding occurs when the occupancy rate exceeds 100, indicating that there are more prisoners in the prison than it was designed to hold.

bar chart: prison occupancy rate, 2021 (100= official prison capacity)

Source dataset: crim_pris_cap

Overcrowding rates were observed in Cyprus (146), Romania (116), France (114), Greece and Italy (both 108), Sweden (102), Croatia, and Denmark (both 101). The lowest prison occupancy rates were recorded in Malta (65), Estonia, and Latvia (both 66). In 14 out of the 25 EU countries that provided data in 2021, the prison occupancy rate increased compared with 2020, when the decrease was likely due to COVID-19-related measures.

Source : Eurostat



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