22,000 inmates sleep on the floor in Turkey’s overcrowded prisons

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At least 22,000 inmates are forced to sleep on the floor as the prison population has exceeded 224,000 for the first time in Turkey’s history, the artigercek news website reported on Wednesday.

According to the report, 202,000 inmates can be accommodated in current prisons, in which more than 224,000 prisoners are incarcerated, forcing 22,000 of them to sleep on the floor.

A Cumhuriyet daily report said the budget allocated to prisons is more than the budget of many ministries since the annual cost of holding more than 224,000 prisoners is TL 6.4 billion.

In the meantime, by means of recently issued government decrees, 3,000 more convicts will be released immediately on probation unless they were convicted of terrorism, sexual crimes or coup involvement.

In addition, a total of 10,000 convicts will move from closed to open prisons. Last August, Turkey had released 38,000 convicts from prisons to make room for victims of an ongoing purge in overcrowded jails.

Earlier this month, the Turkish Justice Ministry announced that out of 381 prisons in Turkey, 139 of them were built in the last 10 years and 38 were constructed last year.

Justice Ministry Deputy Undersecretary Basri Bağcı informed Parliament in May that Turkish prisons are currently 9 percent over capacity, saying that some inmates have to sleep in shifts.

“There are currently 221,607 inmates in prisons. Prison capacity is 203,000, making them 9 percent over capacity,” said Bağcı during a presentation to the parliamentary Human Rights Investigation Commission.

Bağcı also said the government plans to increase prison capacity by 11,000 by the end of 2017. Seventy-six prisons are under construction, 113 prisons are in process and 18 more are planned.

Tens of thousands of people are replacing real criminals in Turkey’s prisons as a result of the purge that has been targeting journalists, businesspeople, academics, and others from all walks of life without due process.

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