Irish Penal Reform Trust

'SPACE I' Annual Penal Statistics: Prison Populations 2020

8th April 2021

The Council of Europe (CoE) has published 'SPACE I' Annual Penal Statistics on Prison Populations 2020The report contains a detailed breakdown of penological trends across Europe. Data contained in the report relate to a period before COVID-19 related releases and restrictions in prisons in Europe.

For the first time, information was collected on the number of children living with their mothers in penal institutions, a total of 1,608 children in 37 administrations that provided this data. In most administrations (21) children could stay with their mothers inside penal institutions up to 3 years, the second most common limit being 1 year (7 countries). On the date of data collection, there were no children living with their mothers in prison in Ireland.

Key findings from a European perspective:

  • The median prison population has decreased from 106 in 2019 to 104.3 in 2020;
  • Females represented 5% of those in prison across Europe on the date of data collection;
  • 22.5% of the prisoners held in European penal institutions were not serving a final sentence on the date of data collection;
  • In 2019, the average length of imprisonment in Europe was 8.5 months.

Key findings from an Irish perspective:

  • Ireland was above the European median value for the rate of admissions and the rate of releases;
  • The incarceration rate per 100,000 inhabitants was 81.6 in 202, up from 81.2 in 2019;
  • The total prison population on 31st January 2020 was 4,052, 182 of these were female (4.5%);
  • Of the total prison population, 786 (20.3%) were non-sentenced;
  • Of sentenced prisoners (3,218), 15.7% were serving sentences of less than 1 year;
  • Ireland’s prison density, or prisoners per capacity, stood at 93.3 per 100 places available for accommodation, above the median of 90.3;
  • Of the total number in custody on 31st January 2020, 14.8% of these were foreign national prisoners;
  • The rate of entry into penal institutions was 180.1 per 100,000 inhabitants in 2019 (2019 used for flow measures as the closest full year), which is an increase from 164.6 per 100,000 inhabitants in 2018;
  • The rate of releases from penal institutions was 179.4 per 100,000 inhabitants in 2019, an increase from 161.0 per 100,000 inhabitants in 2018;
  • During 2019, 15 prisoners died while in custody;
  • The cost of housing a prisoner in Ireland (€206.0 per day) was higher than the CoE average (€133.70) and the CoE median (€64.40).

Read the SPACE I Annual Penal Statistics: Prison Populations 2020 here.

Key findings of the SPACE I Annual Penal Statistics: Prison Populations 2020 report are available here.

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