According to the report, the countries with the highest percentages of prisoners released as a measure to prevent covid-19 were Turkey (35 percent - 102,944 prisoners), Cyprus (16 percent - 121), Slovenia (16 percent - 230), Portugal (15 percent -1,874), Norway (13 percent - 401), Ireland (12 percent - 476), Italy (9.4 percent - 5,739) and Spain (7.4 percent - 4,356), in a table that considers only the states with more than 500 thousand inhabitants.
At the same time, the prison administrations with the largest number of prisoners released to prevent the spread of the pandemic were Turkey (102,944 inmates), Italy (5,739), Spain (4,356) and Portugal (1,874).
In Serbia, 626 prisoners were released, in Ireland 476, in Norway 401, in Albania 351, in Slovenia 230, in Cyprus 121 and in Northern Ireland 118.
In total, more than 122,000 prisoners were released by twenty European prison administrations as a measure to prevent Covid-19, rising to 132,000 including France, which allowed the release of prisoners unrelated to pandemic prevention.
In prison administrations that reported having released prisoners to limit the spread of covid-19, the process went through measures such as amnesty, early or provisional release and other alternative solutions to deprivation of liberty.
On the other hand, European states are increasingly applying non-custodial sanctions and measures to offenders, according to the 2019 SPACE II survey carried out for the Council of Europe by the University of Lausanne.
As of 31 January, 2019, there were approximately two million people in Europe carrying out alternative measures to detention, such as electronic surveillance, community service, house arrest and treatment, as well as on parole.
Between 2018 and 2019, the number of people who were under the supervision of parole services from 28 European countries (which provided data) increased by 7.9 percent, from 1,547,572 to 1,699,676, with the overall rate of people on parole increased from 137.8 to 139.6 people per 100,000 inhabitants.
According to the SPACE II survey, on 31 January, 2019 there were 155 people on parole per 100,000 inhabitants in Europe, showing a high rate compared to the rate of the prison population.
For years, the Council of Europe has urged member states to use prison as a last resort as soon as possible and to apply alternative measures to deprivation of liberty.
The objective - recalls the report - is to promote the integration of criminals in society to reduce recidivism, prevent overcrowding in prisons, improve the functioning of prisons and promote the humane and effective treatment of prisoners.
In 2019, foreigners in the various European prison administrations represented 8 percent of offenders placed on probation, a smaller share than in the prison population (14 percent).
The countries with the highest rates of persons covered by correctional services - above the European average of 267 persons on provisional / probation or detention per 100,000 inhabitants - are Turkey (920), Poland (836), Lithuania (755) and Russia (737). Conversely, the countries with the lowest rates are Finland (103), Norway (106), Iceland (113) and Switzerland (131).