Gholamhossein Mohseni Ejei

Iranian judiciary and prison authorities have expressed concern over the surge in the number of prisoners and called on Iranian prosecutors to reduce the number of arrests.

Iran’s Prosecutor Gholamhossein Mohseni Ejei told a gathering of prosecutors yesterday: "I ask that while firmly dealing with dangerous criminals, prosecutors pay attention that those who need not be imprisoned are not detained."

Gholamhosein Esmaili, the head of Iran’s prison system told the gatheirng  that in the past 18 months, the prison population has increased by about 55,000 inmates, but no additional space has been allotted to prison authorities to accommodate this increase.

Esmaili said the total prison population is 220,000 inmates, which includes 70,000 prisoners awaiting sentencing. He added that each year 65,000 detainees are acquitted or have their charges dropped.

Ebrahim Raisi, the first deputy of the judiciary, said: “It is not right for the prosecutor to detain people before their crimes have been identified.” He advised prosecutors to try to reduce the number of detainees and refrain from arresting people without cause.

He added that sometimes just “to put a loud detainee in his or her place, they put them under arrest and this is not correct.”

He informed the prosecutors that the head of the judiciary has ordered each province to establish special panels to review detainee cases, with the goal of processing cases that have been pending for more than four months.

Following the election protests in 2009, the government arrested thousands of protesters. Many of them have reported dire prison conditions such as cramped living and sleeping areas and a lack of hygiene facilities.