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South Africa has recorded the highest number of prisoners in Africa, according to the International Centre for Prison Studies (ICPS).

According to the report, South Africa has recorded a total of 165 395 inmates in April 2014. This was followed by Ethiopia with 93 044 and Morocco with 72 816 prisoners.

The study revealed 2.3% of South Africa’s inmates in April were female, while 0.3% of the prisoners were minors.

There were 27.8% pre-trial detainees and 5.3% foreigners.

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South Africa’s official capacity is 119 890 inmates, which means occupancy level is 127.7% over.

The report further found western African countries locked up 46 people per 100 000 population. In southern African countries this figure spiked to 205 people per 100 000 population.

Other significant findings were that almost half of the world’s prisoners are in the United States, China or Russia – countries which barely account for a quarter of the world’s population.

There are more than 10.2 million prisoners around the world.

“It is of grave concern that there are now over 10.2 million men, women and children held in penal institutions throughout the world. What is of graver concern is that the world prison population continues to rise, despite the fact that imprisonment is a highly expensive option for governments, as well as being inappropriate and ineffective for the majority of prisoners who come from minority and marginalised groups, or who are mentally ill or who are alcohol and drug abusers,” said the director of the ICPS, Peter Bennett.

“The International Centre for Prison Studies calls on those governments with high or rising rates of imprisonment to reduce their prison populations and to seek alternatives to custody in the interests of good economy, effectiveness in sentencing and the achievement of internationally agreed standards.”

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