560 people are waiting to go to prison in Iceland after being convicted of crimes. If more than 5 years pass after sentencing without people going to prison, the sentence becomes invalid and they don’t need to serve time. According to RÚV, so far this year, 17 sentences have become invalid, 34 last year.
Páll Winkel, Director of prisons in Iceland, tells RÚV that the overcrowding problem isn’t new. He says that for the last 10 years the waiting list has become increasingly long. And that more sentences will become invalid unless the Parliament gives permission to hire more prison guards.
Páll Winkel says that dangerous criminals are incarcerated sooner than those who are considered less dangerous, as well as those who continue committing crimes after their sentence. In the interview with RÚV, he says he feels that it’s ridiculous to have to incarcerate someone who’s been waiting for 5 years. That some of the people have turned over a new leaf, started a family, have stable jobs and even an education.