There are currently about 4,300 cells in Swedish prisons, which are already overcrowded. To cope with the large number of serious offenders, the number of cells may soon have to be tripled.
The lack of space in Swedish prisons has meant that inmates are increasingly being housed two to a cell – and in the new prisons being planned, double cells will be standard.
As early as last spring, the Swedish Prison and Probation Service said that 8,000 new prison places would be needed in ten years – but even this figure may be too low, and internal policy documents seen by TV4 suggest that as many as 13,000 new prison places may be needed – almost 18,000 places in total.
Minister of Justice Gunnar Strömmer of the Moderate party also confirms that the mission of the Prison and Probation Service has changed and that they now want to see a greater expansion than previously proposed.
– Against this background, the Prison and Probation Service has recently been tasked with developing a new and more expansive expansion plan, he says, adding that it may be necessary to rent prison space abroad.
Other measures under discussion include reducing prisoners’ outdoor activities and allowing them to spend more time behind bars. The possibility of purchasing prison ships has also been discussed.
Neither politicians nor the authorities have been able to give a clear answer as to why the number of serious criminals in Sweden has increased to such an extraordinary degree that the number of prison places must be multiplied. What is clear, however, is that a very large proportion of those sentenced to prison in Sweden have a non-Swedish background and that people with an immigrant background are heavily overrepresented in a wide range of crimes.
However, drawing attention to the overrepresentation of immigrants in crime statistics has long been a taboo in Sweden, and those who point this out have long been suspected, vilified and character assassinated.