Up to 50 people are imprisoned in Iran every hour, the head of the Iranian Social Workers’ Association, Hassan Mousavi Chelak, has disclosed.
Iran’s chief prison warden, Asghar Jahangir, puts the number of inmates in Iran at roughly a quarter of a million, which indicates a threefold increase in 20 years.
In an interview with state-run IranianStudents News Agency (ISNA), Chelak described the rising number of prisoners as a “matter of concern” and called for replacing prison sentences with substitute punishments.
According to Chelak, Article 64 of the Islamic Penal Code paves the way for the country’s judiciary to dole out other forms of punishment such as“unpaid public service, fines, and deprivation of social rights.”
Judicial officials in Iran maintain they have reduced the number of prisoners, but in reality the number has risen in recent years.
Based on the latest statistics, Iranian prisons are overcrowded. Jahangir told reporters in December that prisons are not allocated sufficient budgets for operation. “Prisons in the Islamic Republic have two times more inmates than their capacity. We are incapable of properly feeding our prisoners three times a day,” he said.
According to the secretary of the judiciary’s Information Supreme Council, mid-ranking cleric Hamid Shahriari, 287 out of 100,000 Iranians are behind bars and Iran ranks eighth in the list of countries by incarceration rate.
The latest statistics show that 240,000 people are currently behind bars across the country. Almost half of the prisoners, or 95,000, were convicted of drug-related crimes.
Jahangir had previously disclosed that the number of prisoners in Iran between 1985 and 2016 showed a 333 percent rise, while population growth over the same period was 66 percent.