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Prison system in Romania - statistics & facts

The penitentiary system in Romania has similarities to other penitentiary systems from Central and Eastern European countries, in terms of their development and legislative amendments before and after the communist regime. Nevertheless, from a historical and political point of view, the prison system in Romania when through several changes over the last 50 years, with long term consequences which are still felt. First of all, close to the end of the communist regime in Romania, when political persecutions were mostly based on surveillance and intelligence rather than violence, several prisons and concentration camps were either destroyed or remained in ruins. This led to the problem of overcrowding in prisons which was attempted to be solved by granting numerous pardons after the first democratic elections. Therefore, the recidivism rate in Romania did not drop below 40 percent until 2016.
In 2020, Romania had a total of 43 penitentiary units, of these 33 prisons, six medical facilities, two juvenile educational centers and two juvenile detention centers. The allocated state budget for the Romanian prison system peaked in 2019 at 1,431.92 million Romanian lei. Moreover, given the small number of prisoners incarcerated in 2019, the average monthly cost for a detainee reached 6,073.5 Romanian lei, the highest value recorded over the last ten years.

Convictions at the European Court of Human Rights

In 2019, Romania had nearly eight thousand pending cases at the European Court of Human Rights, ranking fourth by number of cases after Russia, Turkey and Ukraine. Of the total number of judgments delivered over the past years, the majority of them were related to the manner in which criminal investigations and trial proceedings were conducted, as well as overcrowding in prisons, specifically articles three, five and six of the European Convention on Human Rights. As a result, there were 451 violations of the right to a fair trial, over one hundred infringements on the lack of effective investigations and length of proceedings and nearly 300 convictions on inhuman and degrading treatment, mostly related to prison and detention conditions. Subsequently, the Romanian government had to pay compensations worth approximately 3.3 million euros in 2018, due to ECtHR conclusions about prison conditions.

Convictions and offences

The number of prisoners convicted by final court decision in Romania peaked in 2013, at nearly 30,000 people, and decreased by approximately 40 percent by 2019. When it comes to prison escapes, it can be affirmed that the Romanian penitentiary system ensures a high level of protection for both prisoners and society. Even though there have been approximately ten attempted escapes from Romanian prisons in 2019, only three of them were successful, whereas in 2017, there were no successful escapes nor attempted escapes.
At the same time, compared to 2009, ten years later the number of people convicted for offences against the physical or psychological integrity of a person, violent crimes as well as crimes against property registered a significant drop. By contrast, there was a substantial increase in the number of convictions for offences against road traffic safety and corruption. Consequently, most detainees are imprisoned in facilities of minimum and medium security.

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Prison system in Romania

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Female and juvenile prison population

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Penitentiary system

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