Number of prisoners continued to fall in 2018 and number of reoffenders increased slightly

Published 14.3.2019

The number of prisoners, including foreign prisoners, decreased in 2018. Reoffending among persons released from prison has slightly increased during the five-year follow-up period.

In 2018, the number of persons entering prison from freedom was 5,546 (2017: 5,401). Average daily number of prisoners was 2,910 (2017: 3,035). The number of prisoners has been decreasing steadily since 2005, apart from a slight increase in 2016. The change in the number of prisoners cannot be attributed to any single cause, though it is in part due to the ageing of population and changes in criminality.

In addition, the number of foreign prisoners decreased in 2018, their daily number being 482 (2017: 540). The daily number of customers in community service sentences almost corresponded to that in the previous year. The average daily number of persons in community service sentences was 2, 959 (2017: 2,967).

However, reoffending among persons released from prison has slightly increased according to figures from 2018. Of the released prisoners, 50.6 per cent (2017: 49) returned to prison within five years.

"The Criminal Sanctions Agency cut down the number of its personnel by more than 500 person-years during 2005‒2016, due to the government efficiency programme and financial adjustment measures. The savings were reflected in a fall in the number of activities arranged for the prisoners. Reduced personnel resources and operating preconditions for prisoners impair their capabilities to enter a crime-free life", says Director-General Esa Vesterbacka.

The aim of the Criminal Sanctions Agency is to shift focus of enforcement safely towards more open conditions. The implementation of this goal did not proceed in the desired direction in 2018. Among other things, the use of probationary liberty under supervision decreased by 3 per cent from the previous year. The average daily number of prisoners in probationary liberty under supervision was 207 (2017: 214). The open prison utilisation rate and the proportion of prisoners in open prisons decreased slightly from the previous year.

The net expenditure of the Criminal Sanctions Agency in 2018 was EUR 209.6 million. One day in a closed prison cost EUR 214 per prisoner. The corresponding cost in an open prison was EUR 149 and in probationary liberty under supervision only EUR 37. Community service sentences are considerable less expensive. The most high-cost type of community service is a monitoring sentence, whose cost was approximately EUR 77 a day. The day price of community service, which is the most common type of community service sentence, was only EUR 12 in 2018.

The financial statement and annual report of the Criminal Sanctions Agency for 2018 are available here.

Further information:

Director-General Esa Vesterbacka, tel. +358 29 56 88400 and

Design Manager Pia Raassina-Terho, tel. +358 29 56 88421