The Moroccan Observatory for Prisons released its annual report in Rabat yesterday July 10, revealing Morocco’s incarceration figures for 2018. According to the report, 83 757 people were incarcerated last year, an increase of 655 prisoners from the 2017 figures.
The increase “aggravates the phenomenon of overpopulation in prisons,” notes the report.
The report finds that 12 of Morocco’s 15 prisons currently exceed their maximum inmate capacity. The prison of Al Arjat 1, a few kilometers north of Rabat, is at 205% of its capacity, while the Moul El Bergui Safi prison is at 173%. Morocco’s largest prison, the Oukacha prison in Casablanca, is at 172% capacity.
Prison overpopulation has been an ongoing concern in Morocco, placing pressure on staff and inmates.
The Delegation for Penal Administration and Reinsertion (DGAPR), the Moroccan government body responsible for prison administration is working to resolve the issue.
In 2018, the DGAPR renovated prisons across Morocco, increasing the floor space per prisoner from 1.87 square meters to 1.89 square meters. DGAPR intends to launch a 2019-2021 strategy to increase floor space to 3 square meters per inmate.
But floor space is not the only concern. Overcrowding places pressure on staff. In November last year, DGAPR reported prisons staffing was one staff member for 40 inmates during the day, and one staff member per 500 inmates at night.
The situation “is exhausting human resources who are working in difficult and risky conditions,” said Mohamed Salah Tamek, the director of DGAPR at the law and finance budget for 2019 announcement last November.