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Prison population in Italy 2000-2021

As of February 2021, the number of prisoners in Italy was 50.6 thousand. Between 2000 and 2019, Italy's prison population increased, while it experienced a decrease in 2020 and 2021. In 2010, the population of prisoners in custody reached its peak at 68 thousand inmates, whereas by the end of 2019, the number of inmates amounted to 60.8 thousand individuals. During the coronavirus emergency, Italy adopted a decree for the supervised release of certain prisoners in order to reduce overcrowding. Thus, the number of detainees in the last year experienced a decrease.

Demography of incarcerated population

Among prisoners, two groups stand out for age and educational level. Data related to the age of people in jail show that individuals between 50 and 59 years old made up the largest group of the prison population (ten thousand inmates). Furthermore, a glance at their educational background reveals that 19 thousand individuals held a lower secondary school degree. Both groups represented a significant part of the incarcerated population.

Overcrowded prisons and tough conditions

Prison overcrowding is a worldwide phenomenon. Prison systems in more than one hundred countries operate at over double their capacities. Likewise, several prisons in Italy hold more prisoners than the facilities can accommodate. In 2019, a jail in the South Italian region Molise was rated the most overcrowded prison in the country, which was occupied at 195 percent of designed prison capacity. In addition to overcrowding, a further problem of the Italian prison system concerns the tough conditions for mafia prisoners. In October 2019, the European court of human rights (ECHR) ruled that the Italian prison system for mafia inmates must be reviewed, as the conditions in which they are serving their life term sentence violate their human rights.

Number of prisoners in Italy from 2000 to 2021

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Release date

February 2021



Survey time period

2000 to February 2021

Supplementary notes

2020 data as of August.

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Statistics on "Prisoners in Italy"

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