Turkish prisons housing 40,000 over capacity, says prisons director

Turkish prisons currently host 260,00 inmates, 40,00 more than the country’s capacity of 220,000, independent news site T24 reported, quoting the Director General of Turkey’s Prisons and Detention Houses, Şaban Yılmaz.

The largest number of inmates in Turkish prisons have been convicted of drug- related crimes and 743 mothers are behind bars, 519 of whom have been convicted of a crime, Yılmaz said while addressing the Human Rights Commission in Turkish Parliament on Wednesday.

Turkey has had a record increase in inmates of 161.7 percent between 2006-2016, with this number soaring higher following the July 2016 coup attempt, after which the government detained tens of thousands of teachers, lawyers, students, judges and other officials amid a crackdown on dissent 

Yılmaz noted that approximately 61,000 staff work for Turkish prisons and another 10,000 more will be employed by the Director General of Turkey’s Prisons and Detention Houses in 2019.

A total of 57 inmates committed suicide in 2017 and 44 in 2018, he said, noting this number was ‘’below EU standards.’’

The number of children in jail with their mothers is 743 and 35 women behind bars are pregnant, Yılmaz said.

Turkey has the third-highest per capita prison population in Europe, behind only Russia and Belarus. In December of last year, the country’s  Ministry of Justice announced that it will build 228 more prisons over the next five years.