Prison sentences in Portugal “three times longer” than European average

European statistics show that the time spent by inmates in Portuguese prisons is three times longer than the European average – while overcrowding and deaths in jails are also major problems.

Sadly, these latest statistics, relating to 2015, are “nothing new”, reports Público.

The “portrait” of prisons in Portugal, presented in the Council of Europe’s Annual Penal Statistics, simply mirrors previous findings. But this suggests ideas and policies for reform are not working.

Needless to say, overcrowding, although hitting 113%, is down on neighbour Spain where it stands at 133%, and much better than in Macedonia, where jails are running at 138% of capacity.

The average length of time inmates spend behind bars is 31.3 months – more than triple the average time spent in other European countries, but not the highest. Romania tops this section, with average jail times pegged at 37.9 months.

As for the reasons for going to jail in the first place, the most common causes were drug-related crimes (19.7%), followed by theft (16.2%).

Murder represented 13.5% of prison terms in 2015 – and curiously foreign inmates accounted for 17.5% of the prison population. This is also ‘up’ on European averages than pan out at 10.8%.

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