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As reforms continue, Russia's prison population drops by 38% in a decade; per-capita incarceration rate now only half that of US

As reforms continue, Russia's prison population drops by 38% in a decade; per-capita incarceration rate now only half that of US
A report produced by the Council of Europe has revealed that the number of people in Russian prisons has fallen from 574.8 to 356.1 per 100,000 residents in the last decade, meaning that the prison population has dropped by 38.1%.

This means that Russia no longer has the most people imprisoned per capita in the entire Council of Europe, with Turkey now taking the lead in that measure. It is the first time that the organization’s largest member has not been at the top of the incarceration charts.

While still stubbornly high by European standards, the Russian figure is significantly lower than that of the US, which has the world’s largest prison population at over 2,000,000, at an incarceration rate per 100,000 of 639.

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The Council of Europe, made up of 47 member states, is an international community that covers the entirety of European territory, other than Belarus and the Vatican, and focusses on human rights and the rule of law. It produces a report every year on penal statistics.

Its publication for 2020, released on Thursday, revealed that the Russian prison population saw another significant reduction last year, dropping by 7.8%. This was one of the largest falls in the entire organization, with just some micro-states and Moldova releasing more prisoners.

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Over the last decade, the Russian incarceration rate has dropped by 38.1%, the fourth most significant fall in the Council of Europe, behind fellow former Soviet republics Georgia (-50.6%), Armenia (-50.4%), and Latvia (-44%).
In 2010, Russia imprisoned 574.8 people per 100,000 residents. This figure has dropped annually and now sits at 356.1.

The fall in the number of prisoners means that Russia now has one of the lowest cell occupancy rates on the continent, at just 68.8%. This is well below the average of 86.6%, with many nations suffering from overcrowding.

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