Swiss prisons bursting as convict numbers soar

Swiss prisons bursting as convict numbers soar
Sennhof prison in Winterthur. Photo: Xenos/Wikipedia
Swiss prisons are bursting at the seams due to a record number of convicts, figures released on Monday show - but the number of juveniles held has fallen by a quarter.

The country’s adult jails had a total population of 7,072 in September last year, according to the figures from the Federal Statistics Office. The official capacity of Switzerland’s jails is 7,048.

Most of those being held were convicts – 3,667 people, or 51 percent of the total prison population. This represents a 35 percent rise in the number of convicted prisoners since 1999. 30 percent of prisoners were on remand, a two percent rise.

Of prisoners on remand, only 18 percent had Swiss nationality. The majority were illegal immigrants, while a fifth were foreigners with Swiss residence permits and 8 percent were asylum seekers. Swiss law dictates that suspects are only held on remand if there is a risk of them fleeing the country, reoffending or colluding with witnesses.


The number of offenders aged under 18 in detention or living in open care homes was 575, down by 9 percent since 2012 and 24 percent since 2011. 91 percent of them were male and 61 percent were Swiss citizens.

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