The number of inmates in Turkish prisons was 309,558 as of February 28, according to data released by the Directorate General of Prisons and Houses of Detention (CTE), the Stockholm Center for Freedom reported.
A total of 271,163 inmates have been convicted of a crime, while 38,395 are in pretrial detention. According to the directorate general, 1,960 children are accompanying their mothers in prison.
The Turkish government has allocated 8.7 billion lira for the construction of 36 new prisons in the next four years, which will significantly increase Turkey’s already high incarceration rate. The number of Turkish penal institutions will increase to 419 in 2025. There are currently 383 prisons in the country.
The Justice Ministry’s 2022 Investment Plan including the construction of new prisons was approved by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and published in the Official Gazette.
The Council of Europe’s latest annual report revealed that Turkey had the highest incarceration rate of the 47 CoE countries in 2020, with 357 prisoners per 100,000 inhabitants.
According to the CoE report Turkey’s prison population rate has increased 115.3 percent in the last 10 years, and it had the most crowded prisons in Europe with 127 inmates per 100 available places as of January 31, 2020.
There has been a record rise in the number of prisons constructed as well as the number of people who were put behind bars during the rule of the Justice and Development Party (AKP), main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) deputy Abdüllatif Şener previously said.
Accusing the ruling AKP of building as many prisons since it first came to power in 2002 as were built from the founding of the Turkish Republic until then, Şener said, “There is not a single year in which you failed to build a prison, and you have constructed 141 prisons since 2014 alone.”
Mass detentions and arrests have been taking place in Turkey since a coup attempt in July 2016. The AKP government accuses the faith-based Gülen movement of masterminding the failed coup, although the movement strongly denies any involvement in the abortive putsch.
Critics accuse President Erdoğan, who embarked on the massive crackdown on the opposition after the coup attempt, of using the incident as a pretext to quash dissent.
Human Rights Watch says people alleged to have links to the Gülen movement is the largest group targeted by Erdoğan.
A total of 319,587 people have been detained and 99,962 arrested in operations against supporters of the Gülen movement since the coup attempt, Turkey’s Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu said on November 22.