Number of prisoners falls below 2,000 for first time

Photo: Teele Toova

By the beginning of this week, the number of prisoners in Estonia had fallen below 2,000 for the first time since the restoration of independence.

There were altogether 1,994 prisoners in Estonian prisons as of Monday, of whom 202 were in an open prison. There are 3,294 offenders under the supervision of probation officers on a daily basis and this figure has remained rather stable recently.

According to the prison service, the decrease in the number of prisoners has become possible thanks to the fact that the choice and use of alternatives to imprisonment has been significantly expanded in the last two decades and serving a sentence in regular society does not cut people off from their support network and work.

Also, minors and young people end up in prison less often -- for example, there is currently only one juvenile inmate in prison.

"Daily work with offenders is also important, supporting them and guiding them towards a law-abiding path, all of which is showing positive results. Almost 70 percent of those who have been to prison do not commit crimes again in the next two years," the prison service added.

The number of prisoners in Estonia has been in a downward trend for years, similar to the decrease in registered crimes. For example, at the beginning of 2021, there were a total of 2,348 prisoners in prisons and detention centers, and at the end of the year the figure was 2,181. In the middle of the last decade, there were nearly 4,400 prisoners in Estonian detention facilities.