Detained adults

Information on custodial sentences and execution of adult sanctions

The number of inmates is measured on a given date (reference day). This survey on custodial sentences and pre-trial detention is conducted every year on 31 January in the cantonal penal institutions of the justice and police departments. These are inventory statistics providing a snapshot at a given moment in time of the number of persons in detention.

The number of incarcerations is different from the number of inmates. This is the number of persons admitted to a custodial sentence over a twelve-month period. By extension, the number of releases is the number of person who finish their custodial sentence in a given year. These are flow statistics on the execution of sanctions, providing a longer-term view of the movements of detained persons and which, by calculating the time that has elapsed between admission and release, provides the length of imprisonment.

Detainees under custodial sentences and measures

  2019 2020
Detainees 9 263 7 345
Type of sentence
In-patient therapeutic measures 153 106
Custodial sentences 3 743 3 083
Discharged persons 9 335 7 618
Reason of release
Sentence served 7 235 5 784
Parole (conditional release) 2 086 1 804
Mean of the length of stay (in days) 196 220
State of the database: 27.10.2021 Source: FSO - Statistics on the execution of sanctions

Detainees according to type of detention on reference day

Remand and preventive detention on reference day

Remand and preventive detention can be ordered by the responsible authority when strong suspicion exists that the accused has committed a felony or misdemeanour and they are likely to flee, collude or reoffend (cf. Art. 221 Swiss Criminal Procedure Code - CPC 312.0).

Further information



Further tables by subject

Statistical sources and concepts


Federal Statistical Office Section Crime and Criminal Justice
Espace de l'Europe 10
CH-2010 Neuch√Ętel



Our English pages offer only a limited range of information on our statistical production. For our full range please consult our pages in French and German (top right hand screen).