Irish Penal Reform Trust

'SPACE I' Annual Penal Statistics: Prison Populations 2019

7th April 2020

The Council of Europe (CoE) has published 'SPACE I' Annual Penal Statistics on Prison Populations 2019The report contains a detailed breakdown of penological trends across Europe. 45 out of the 52 Prison Administrations in the 47 Council of Europe member states answered the SPACE I 2019 questionnaire, which corresponds to a participation rate of 87%.

NOTE: The present SPACE I 2019 report follows the trend of the SPACE I 2018 report, using 31st January of the year preceding the publication as the date of reference for stock instead of 1st September of the year before that one, as it was the case from 1983 to 2016. The aim of that change of date is to publish the latest available data.

 Key findings from a European perspective:

  • The median prison population has increased from 102.5 in 2018 to 106 in 2019;
  • Females represented 5% of those in prison across Europe;
  • At the European level, there were 1.6 prisoners per 1 member of prison staff (this ratio varies across countries, ranging from a maximum of 4.9 to a minimum of 0.1);
  • Twenty-two percent (22%) of the inmates held in European penal institutions are not serving a final sentence;
  • In 2018, the length of imprisonment in Europe was 8 months.

Key findings from an Irish perspective:

  • Ireland was above the European median value for the rate of admissions, rate of releases and rate of escapes;
  • The incarceration rate per 100,000 inhabitants was 81.2 in 2019, up from 79.5 in 2018;
  • The total prison population on 31st January 2019 was 3 983, 181 of these were female (4.5%);
  • Of the total prison population, 812 (20.3%) were non-sentenced;
  • Of sentenced prisoners (3,171), 16.3% were serving sentences of less than 1 year;
  • Ireland’s prison density, or prisoners per capacity, stood at 93.9 per 100 places available for accommodation, above the median of 89.5;
  • Of the total number in custody on 31st January 2019, 13.6% of these were foreign prisoners;
  • The rate of entry into penal institutions was 164.6 per 100,000 inhabitants in 2018 (2018 used for flow measures as the closest full year), this is a fall from 196.5 per 100,000 inhabitants in 2017;
  • The rate of release from penal institutions was 161.0 per 100,000 inhabitants, this is a fall from 197 per 100,000 inhabitants in 2017 (including exits by death and escape, this stands at 161.4 per 100,000 inhabitants);
  • During 2018, 9 prisoners died while in custody;
  • The rate of escapes from penal institutions in 2018 was 17.6 per 10,000 prisoners, representing 7 escapes. All ascensions were from Open centres (Shelton Abbey, 6; Loughan House, 1);
  • The cost of housing a prisoner in Ireland (€202.0 per day) was higher than the CoE average (€140.20) and the CoE median (€68.30).

Read the SPACE I Annual Penal Statistics: Prison Populations 2019 here.

Key findings of the SPACE I Annual Penal Statistics: Prison Populations 2019 report are available here.

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