The number of prisoners at Corradino Correctional Facility increased by more than 80 per cent over a period of 10 years, the Council of Europe reported.
The report, drawn up by the University of Lausanne and co-funded by the European Union and the Council of Europe, showed that between 2005 and 2015, the prison population rate grew by 81 per cent. In 2005, there were 74 inmates per 100,000 inhabitants, a figure that shot up to 134 inmates by 2015.
“The increase took place mainly from 2005 and 2008 and, according to information collected during the research, was partially related to the influx of illegal immigrants which saturated the capacities of the criminal justice system,” the report said.
The researchers noted that the situation also led to a “huge increase” in the number of inmates who were still awaiting final judgment.
As the study looked at prisons in the 47 Council of Europe member states, comparisons could be made by the researchers. They found that the average age of inmates and the percentage of women, foreigners and non-sentenced prisoners at Corradino was “high” when compared to other European countries.
Data on crimes committed should be interpreted cautiously
In the period under review, the average length of imprisonment based on the number of days spent in penal institutions increased by 74 per cent. “In 2005, the average length of imprisonment was 6.7 months while in 2014 it was 11.7 months,” the researchers noted, also attributing this to the influx of migrants.
They found there were about 18 per cent more women at the Corradino facility when compared to a decade earlier.
It was established during the study that while the number of inmates serving time for assault and battery, sexual offences and robberies increased, those in jail for homicide and drug-related offences fell.
The report writers advised that the data on crimes committed should be “interpreted cautiously” because the Maltese authorities did not apply the “principle offence rule” systematically when supplying the information.