The number of people incarcerated in Turkish jails has increased 3.8-fold in the last decade, daily Sözcü reported on Feb. 12, citing data from the Turkish Statistical Institute (TÜİK).
The most recent data on Turkish prisons belong to 2019, according to TÜİK data. Accordingly, 281,605 were jailed in 2019 in Turkey, whereas this figure was 74,404 in 2009.
During this time period, jails have seen a significant rise in the number of prisoners who were convicted of charges of theft, sexual abuse, drug dealing and smuggling.
Some 1,514 were imprisoned on charges of murder in 2009, whereas this number increased six-fold to 9,574 in 2019. The number of people jailed for causing injury, on the other hand, increased 4.5-fold to 34,987 in 2019.
As for the number of prisoners who were convicted on sexual abuse charges, the figure saw a 10-fold increase, reaching from 562 to 5,800 during this time period.
The number of convicts jailed for theft offenses saw a 7-fold increase, whereas the number of people jailed for drug dealing saw an 11-fold increase.
The number of people convicted for smuggling charges saw a 9-fold increase, whereas this figure saw a 5-fold increase for forgery-related offenses, an 11-fold increase for charges of causing damage to property and a 15-fold increase for traffic-related charges.
TÜİK prepares a report on the prison population every November. Accordingly, the number of inmates in Turkish prisons who were either in pre-trial detention or convicted of a crime was 291,546 in 2019. The report excluded data with regards to the percentage of political prisoners and did not mention how the prisoner release law affected the percentage of the prison population.
In April 2020, the Turkish government passed a “criminal enforcement” law that planned to release up to 90,000 inmates in order to relieve overcrowded prisons during the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the law excluded prisoners sentenced for “terror” crimes, which are often used to silence critics of the government including opposition politicians and journalists.