Hungary: There have never been so many behind bars

The government explains this by the high number of traffickers caught, but does not talk about the failure of the prison expansion programme or the under-use of alternative sentences.

One day, the guards came in and told me to pack my bags because they were taking me to another prison – on the other side of the country. I couldn’t understand why. I heard back later that it was because of the overcrowding in the prisons. But where I went, it was even worse, there were more of us in the same cell. So I still don’t really understand.

In January 2023, 1,068 people were transferred from one prison to another. Although the response did not indicate where prisoners are typically transferred from and to, the previous data request from the Hungarian Helsinki Committee may partly answer the question. According to the data sent to them, almost all Hungarian prisons are over 100% full, with only a few between 90% and 100%.