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Report: Hungarian Prisons Most Overcrowded In Europe

Ferenc Sullivan 2016.03.09.

Hungary has the most overcrowded prisons in Europe, according to penal statistics released on Tuesday by the Council of Europe.

According to the report, based on Council of Europe statistics for the year 2014, overcrowding has been slowly declining in European prisons since 2011, although it remains a problem in one in four prison administrations across the continent.

While the number of prison administrations suffering from overcrowding decreased significantly – down to 13 in 2014 from 21 in 2013, the problem remains, with Hungary, Belgium and Macedonia being the thre countries with the most overcrowded penal institutions. In 2014, an average of 142 inmates were crammed into units designed to hold 100 people in Hungary, followed by Belgium with a ratio of 134 to 100.

The ratio of prisoners across the continent fell from 99 inmates for every 100 places in 2011 to 96 inmates per 100 places in 2013, and then to 94 in 2014. The prison population rate also decreased by 7% in 2014 with regard to the previous year, from 134 to 124 inmates per 100,000 inhabitants. European prisons remained however close to the top of their capacity, holding 1,600,324 people.

Commenting on the report’s findings, Council of Europe Secretary General Thorbjorn Jagland said: “Overcrowding creates enormous obstacles to rehabilitating offenders and thus to better protecting society from crime. It can also breach human rights. I welcome the progress achieved in reducing prison overcrowding. States still affected should do more to eradicate it, including applying alternative measures to imprisonment”.

Hungary joined the international organisation, which currently has 47 member-states, in 1991.

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