Latvia has plenty of prisoners, but at least they're not overcrowded

More people are locked up in Latvia than in most other European Union members states according to Eurostat data published April 29.

In 2022, there were 483 593 prisoners in the EU, equivalent to 108 prisoners per 100 000 people. The prisoner rate increased from the 106 prisoners per 100 000 people recorded in 2021.

The highest prisoner rates per 100 000 people in 2022 were in Hungary (200), Poland (190) and Czechia and Slovakia (both 181). Next in line were Baltic states Lithuania (177), then Latvia (172) and Estonia (155). It is noticeable that the top 8 EU countries when it comes to locking people up are all the Eastern and Central European accession countries of 2004.

The lowest prisoner rates were in Finland (52), the Netherlands (64) and Slovenia (65). 

Prisoners 2021-22
Prisoners 2021-22

The good news for those behind bars – relatively speaking – is that even though prisoner numbers are relatively high, overcrowding does not appear to be a problem in Latvia.

In 2022, 11 EU countries experienced overcrowded prison cells. The prison occupancy rate is the number of prisoners relative to the official capacity (design capacity) of prisons, multiplied by 100. Overcrowding occurs when the occupancy rate exceeds 100, indicating that there are more prisoners in the prison than it was designed to hold.

The highest overcrowding was observed in Cyprus with an occupancy rate of 226, France (119) and Belgium (118). The lowest prison occupancy rates were recorded in Malta (59), Estonia (62) and Latvia (67). 

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