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Lebanese prisons are largely populated by young men who have stumbled into multiyear sentences for petty offenses.In Lebanon, by contrast, prisoners are largely taken care of by their families: What few support services exist are provided by NGOs, infrastructure is often built and rehabilitated by foreign donors, and, amazingly, the sector generally functions without a dedicated budget. The problem is that, the cheaper the prisoner, the simpler it is to arrest and incarcerate.This helps explain the endemic overcrowding in Lebanese prisons. The most recent data released by the Interior Ministry, which harks back to 2010, suggest that authorities made 17,000 arrests in that year alone; although most people apprehended will have been released after "short stays" (ranging from a week to six months) in a police station, this number illustrates the sheer volume of turnover in the detention sector.And counterintuitively, prisoners generate resources.What needs building is not prisons: it's the judicial and detention sectors that revolve around them.
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