Record number of women in Swedish prisons

The number of women being sentenced to prison in Sweden has increased by 50% in the last five years. Most of the increase, according to Swedish daily Dagens Nyheter, is due to tougher punishment for drugs-related offences.

Last year 1,165 women were sentenced to prison, compared to 778 in 2000.

“The drug laws have been tightened up and the legal approach has changed,” said Jerzy Sarnecki, a professor of criminology at Stockholm University.

That view was confirmed by Sarnecki’s fellow professor, Henrik Tham, who told DN that the rapid rise should not be taken as a sign that the women of Sweden are becoming more crime-focused.

“This is not an effect of any increase in the crime rate,” he said.

“The number of crimes committed every year has been the same every year since the beginning of the 90s. But the punishment has become longer.”

Around 25% of the 250 women in prison in Sweden today are serving time for drugs offences, said DN.

“Many have been drug abusers for a long period before they receive their first prison sentence,” said Annika Bergström at Färingsö women’s prison, one of five currently operating in Sweden.

Sources: Dagens Nyheter