Figures released by the Turkish Statistical Institute (TurkStat) have revealed how prisons have recorded a quadrupling in annual inmate arrivals over the last 11 years.
Turkey ranks second after the United States among 36 countries in terms of incarceration rate per 100,000 of the national population, according to OECD 2020 data.
A total of 281,605 people entered the country’s prisons in 2019, when TurkStat recorded its latest data, compared to 74,404 people in 2009.
The incarceration rate according the OECD was 655 prisoners per 100,000 residents in the United States, 344 in Turkey, 234 in Israel, 232 in Chile, 199 in New Zealand and 197 in the Czech Republic, whereas the lowest figures were in Iceland with 37, Japan with 39, Finland with 53, Norway with 60 and Sweden with 61.
Turkey has seen a surge in crimes over the last decade, including murder, theft, sexual abuse and drug-related offenses.
A total of 1,514 people were imprisoned on charges of murder in 2009, with this figure multiplying by a factor of six in 2019 to 9,574.
The TurkStat report excluded statistics concerning the percentage of political prisoners. This raises doubts about the report since a purge of thousands of dissidents in the aftermath of a July 2016 coup attempt has filled Turkey’s prisons, which today are overcrowded with tens of thousands of political prisoners.
Imprisonment on charges of sexual abuse during this time period increased 10-fold, at 5,800 in 2019, up from 562 in 2009.
Meanwhile, theft-related incarcerations increased by seven-fold during the same period while imprisonment for drug trafficking increased by a factor of 11.