# Minister Thalatha Athukorale: wrong on prison population, right on prison sentences

23 May 2019 - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

On 10 April 2019, Dinamina reported that Minister of Justice and Prison Reforms Thalatha Athukorale made the following statement:

There are close to 22,000 inmates in prisons. Of them, a large number are serving sentences that are less than two years.

On the first claim: the latest Prisons Statistics of Sri Lanka Report, providing data up to 2017, gives the daily average number of inmates residing in prisons as 19,278. This number is 15.5% less than the Minister’s stated figure. Of this 19,278, 9,036 were convicted prisoners, while 10,242 were unconvicted prisoners (remandees).

The 2017 statistics record the total number of convicted prisoners admitted in 2017 as 22,833. This figure could be what the minister was referencing. However, the number of convicted prisoners admitted during a year is different from the number of unconvicted and convicted prisoners residing in prisons at any given time. This is because most admitted persons have very short durations of stay.

On the second claim: Exhibit 1 shows that 93% (21,241) of the convicted persons admitted in 2017 were serving sentences of less than two years.

The minister is incorrect on the number of inmates residing in prisons, but is correct that a large number of prisoners are serving sentences of less than 2 years.

Therefore, we classify the minister’s statement as Partly True.

Exhibit 1: Sentence lengths of convicted prisoners admitted in 2017

.The 2017 statistics record the total number of convicted prisoners admitted in 2017 as 22,833. This figure could be what the minister was referencing. However, the number of convicted prisoners admitted during a year is different from the number of unconvicted and convicted prisoners residing in prisons at any given time. This is because most admitted persons have very short durations of stay.

On the second claim: Exhibit 1 shows that 93% (21,241) of the convicted persons admitted in 2017 were serving sentences of less than two years.

The minister is incorrect on the number of inmates residing in prisons, but is correct that a large number of prisoners are serving sentences of less than 2 years.
Therefore, we classify the minister’s statement as Partly True.

Exhibit 1: Sentence lengths of convicted prisoners admitted in 2017

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