Sweden Closing Prisons as Inmate Numbers Drop

Nation sees a steep 6% reduction

By John Johnson,  Newser Staff

Posted Nov 12, 2013 7:01 PM CST | Updated Nov 12, 2013 7:00 PM CST

(Newser) – Seems like a good problem to have: Sweden is shutting down four prisons and a detention center because it doesn't have enough inmates to fill them, reports the Guardian. The move follows a 6% drop in inmate numbers from 2011 to 2012, with similar numbers expected this year. What gives? The leading factors seem to be an increased focus on rehab and fewer jail sentences for drug crimes.

But "we are not at the point of concluding that this is a long-term trend and that this is a change in paradigm," says the top prison official. "What we are certain of is that the pressure on the criminal justice system has dropped markedly in recent years." For comparison's sake, the US has 2.24 million people in jail, for a rate of 716 inmates per 100,000 residents. Sweden has 4,852 in prison for a rate of 51 inmates per 100,000, notes the International Business Times.

  (Shutterstock)
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