The Turkish government has allocated a total of TL 2.2 billion ($298 million) for the ongoing construction of 40 prisons and the building of two new facilities this year in its 2021 budget, the Sözcü daily reported on Thursday.
The presidency last week announced a 2021 public investment program of TL 138.5 billion ($18.53 billion). Under the program Turkey’s Justice Ministry will receive TL 2.2 billion ($298 million) for the construction of prisons in the country.
The amount allocated to the construction of penal facilities in 42 provinces last year was more than TL 4.4 billion ($596 million).
The ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) set aside a large amount with the aim of speeding up the construction of prisons this year, although parliament in April 2020 passed a law that allowed for the release of tens of thousands of prisoners to ease overcrowding in jails and protect detainees from COVID-19, Sözcü said.
According to the investment program, the ministry was given TL 45 million ($6 million) for the construction of two new prisons in Muğla and Tokat provinces. These jails are expected to cost a total of TL 442 million ($59.9 million), measure 124,617 square meters in total and be completed in 2024.
The construction of prisons the AKP government decided to build in six provinces but which received no funding last year will also start in 2021. The amount set aside for their construction this year is TL 219 million ($29.6 million). The jails are expected to cost TL 1.6 billion ($216 million) in total and cover an area of 531,372 square meters.
The government also allocated TL 90 million ($12 million) for the construction of a prison in Konya province, which it decided to build in 2013 but hadn’t set aside any money for until this year. The jail is expected to cost TL 300 million ($40.6 million) in total and cover a 291,000-square-meter area. Its construction is scheduled for completion in 2024.
According to Sözcü, the prisons currently under construction have cost TL 11.1 billion ($1.5 billion) and cover an area of 5.3 million square meters in total.
There has been a record rise in the number of prisons constructed as well as in the number of people who were put behind bars during the rule of the AKP, which came to power in 2002. There were 58,000 inmates in Turkey’s prisons in 2002, but this figure rose to 282,703 in 2020, according to data announced by the Justice Ministry in October. The data also showed that Turkey currently has 355 prisons, 94 of which were constructed and put into service within the last five years.