Turkey to build 43 prisons using funds from inmate labor

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Silivri Prison in Istanbul.

Turkey’s Ministry of Justice is poised to build 43 new prisons using funds provided by its department responsible for generating income through inmate labor, the Sözcü newspaper reported on Thursday.

This new group of prisons will be constructed in addition to the 48 others previously revealed to be underway, which are planned to occupy 6 million square meters of land and use some $1.5 billion in ministry funds.

The 43 new prisons will cost the ministry a notably lower amount of about $650,000 as it will partly rely on revenue generated by the ministry’s Department of Workshops, which puts inmates to work in various areas such as agriculture, animal husbandry, textiles, handcrafts and manufacturing.

In 2018 the department allocated nearly 40 percent of its revenue to the construction of prisons, with the number of inmates recruited to work topping 58,595 by the end of the year.

The government announced 166 new correctional facilities between 2006 and 2019. Now it plans to spend some $2 billion to introduce 91 new ones by 2021.

According to March 2019 figures from Turkey’s Directorate General of Prisons and Houses of Detention, Turkey has a total of 396 penal institutions with a capacity to accommodate some 220,000 people. Minister of Justice Abdülhamit Gül stated, however, that there were 260,144 people in prison as of November 2018.

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