Number of prisoners stays steady at just under 7,000

Locked in at a Swiss prison in Niederdorf, canton Basel Country. © Keystone / Georgios Kefalas

Inmates in Swiss prisons are mostly men, mainly foreign nationals, and are 50% likely to be still awaiting trial, according to annual statistics released by the Federal Statistical Office.

Keystone-SDA/dos

At the end of January 2019, 6,943 adults were being held in Swiss prisons, the FSO reported on Monday. The figure marks a 1% increase on the previous year and keeps the national rate stable at 81 prisoners per 100,000 residents.

Almost all the inmates were male (6,547); just 396 were women. Around three-quarters were foreign nationals, while almost a half had not yet been sentenced at trial.

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As for the institutions themselves, they are operating at 94% of full capacity, the FSO wrote.

And while the numbers of inmates at any one time continues to hover just under the 7,000 mark, the revolving door of new prisoners replacing the released is turning rapidly: over the whole of last year, some 51,500 new entries were recorded, an average of six per hour.

Eight people managed to escape from Swiss jails over the year, of which four were rearrested; 152 prisoners ‘escaped’ from open prisons or workplace schemes.

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