Greece has the fourth most overcrowded prisons in Europe, with 121 inmates for every 100 available places compared to a European average of 94 per 100, according to the Council of Europe’s Annual Penal Statistics for 2014, which are being published on Tuesday.
The country ranks just below Hungary, Belgium and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia in terms of prison overcrowding.
Despite the high figure, overcrowding in Greek prisons fell between 2013 and 2014. In 2013, there were 134 inmates for every 100 places. This was in line with a decline across the continent as 21 prison systems were considered overcrowded in 2013, compared to 13 in 2014.
“Overcrowding creates enormous obstacles to rehabilitating offenders and thus to better protecting society from crime. It can also breach human rights,” said Council of Europe Secretary-General Thorbjorn Jagland.
Greece also has one of the highest proportions of foreign inmates at 59 percent. Only Luxembourg, Switzerland, Andorra and Monaco had higher percentages. The European average was 21.7 percent.
A third of prisoners in Greece in 2014 were serving terms for drug offenses. This was the fifth highest in Europe. Only Italy, Andorra, Georgia and Malta had higher proportions.