Senatorial bet Atty. Chel Diokno’s claim on national television, February 17, that the Philippines ranks first in the world for overcrowded jails is accurate.
Diokno made the claim as he explained his dissent on lowering the minimum age of criminal responsibility (MACR) on ABS-CBN’s senatorial debate, “Harapan 2019.”
…kokonti lang ang nakakaalam na ang Pilipinas ang number 1 sa buong mundo sa overcrowded jails…
– Chel Diokno, Harapan 2019: The ABS-CBN Senatorial Debate, 17 February 2019
World Prison Brief backs up Diokno’s statement as it ranks the country as the first in terms of jail occupancy level, followed by Haiti (454.4%) and El Salvador (333.3%). According to World Prison Brief, as of May 2018, the Philippines currently has 188,278 prisoners in prisons capable of only housing 40,610, putting the occupancy level at 463.6%. This means that there are almost five prisoners cramming into every facility supposed to cater to only one prisoner.
With these numbers, the Philippines does rank as the first in terms of prison overcrowding.
The World Prison Brief is “an online database providing free access to information on prison systems around the world.” It is hosted by the Institute for Criminal Policy Research at Birkbeck, University of London and relied on by monitoring bodies, governments, journalists, and civil society organizations. The United Nations also cites the World Prison Brief as its source for prison population data in its yearly publication of the United Nations Human Development Report.
According to the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP), the total jail population in the country as of May 2018 is 144,871 prisoners, including both sentenced individuals and detainees situated in 482 BJMP-manned jails across the country. BJMP also indicated that, if given the ideal area of 4.7 square meters per prisoner, the ideal capacity across all prisons would be 21,342 putting the congestion rate at 582.37%. The congestion rate can be obtained by dividing the total number of prisoners by the ideal capacity. This means there are more than six prisoners cramming into the facility that’s supposed to cater to only one prisoner.
DZUP is part of the fact-checking collaborative project, Tsek.ph, which is spearheaded by the UP Department of Journalism.
World Prison Brief. Philippines | World Prison Brief. 2018. Accessed February 27, 2019. http://www.prisonstudies.org/country/philippines.
World Prison Brief. Highest to Lowest – Occupancy level (based on official capacity). 2018. Accessed February 27, 2019. http://www.prisonstudies.org/highest-to-lowest/occupancy-level?field_region_taxonomy_tid=All.
Bureau of Jail Management and Penology. BJMP Actual Jail Population Data. May 31, 2018. Accessed February 24, 2019. https://www.bjmp.gov.ph/datstat.html.
Bureau of Jail Management and Penology. Congestion Rate. May 31, 2018. Accessed February 24, 2019. https://www.bjmp.gov.ph/data/datamay2018/congestion_rate-may2018.pdf.