High security prisons overcrowded, space in open institutions
Many of Finland’s maximum security prisons are overcrowded, while there is space available in minimum security open prisons. However, transfers of prisoners from closed to open institutions has been slow, following new policy that was implemented in the autumn.
At the beginning of February there were 155 more inmates in men’s high security prisons than there were spaces available in them. In men’s open prisons, meanwhile, there were 162 empty spaces.
There was also unused capacity in women’s minimum security institutions, but not enough to relieve overcrowding in women’s high-security institutions.
The key reason for the uneven distribution of inmates is in the slow implementation of the new system. Distributing prisoners did not get into full swing when the organisation of the penal system changed in October.
At that time, Finland’s prisons were organised on a regional basis, at which time the distribution of inmates was given over to placement units. Especially the transfer of prisoners from closed to open institutions has slowed.
Prisoners nearing the end of their terms are often situated in open institutions, to get them better acclimatised to life once they are released.
The process has slowed down partly because not enough posts have been established in the placement units.
The number of prisoners, which had long been growing, is on the decline again. After exceeding 4,000, there are now 3,602 people being held in Finnish penal institutions - only four more than the capacity of high-security and open prisons combined.
The decline is largely due to the reduction in the number of those who were imprisoned for their failure to pay a fine. From the beginning of this year, the number of days of imprisonment resulting from not paying a fine was reduced by one third.