“The reason for this is that courts are convicting more people, and giving them longer sentences,” says Patrik Molin at the National Prison and Probation Adminstration.
Medium-security jails were full to 101 percent of their intended capacity, according to statistics from the administration.
The most crowded prisons were Norrköping, operating at 142 percent of its capacity, and Rosersberg jail, north of Stockholm, at 121 percent.
In order to ease pressure, prisons are taking special measures, such as putting more than one prisoner in the same cell.
More prisons are being built, but it will take time for them to come into service.
“At the end of next year a jail outside Sala will be ready. This will hold 342 people, both convicted felons and remand prisoners,” says Molin.
Remand centres, where prisoners are held while awaiting trial, are also crowded. In November, 1,919 people were being held on remand, or 104 percent of Sweden’s remand capacity. This is more than in October, when 1,875 places were taken.
Overcrowding in prisons has led more complaints than usual against the prison authorities to the justice ombudsman. Up to November this year the Prison and Probation Administration had received ‘very serious criticism’ from the justice ombudsman in two cases, ‘serious criticism’ in four cases and faults had been found in a further 115 cases.