OUT of the 1360 total prison population in Fiji, 972 are youths between the ages of 16 to 35, it has been revealed.
Quoting statistics from the Fiji Corrections Service (FCS), acting senior youth officer at the Ministry of Youth Shailendra Prasad said the Central Division recorded the highest with 561 youth inmates while the Northern Division recorded the lowest with 121.
Speaking at the National Volunteer Conference held at Studio 6 Apartments in Suva yesterday, Mr Prasad said the statistics that were released in May this year also revealed that iTaukei youths made up the majority of inmates totalling 74 per cent.
Fijians of Indian descent, he said stood at 18 per cent.
He said the two main causes leading to the high number of youths in prisons were poverty and unemployment.
"But there are other factors such as peer pressure among the young people," Mr Prasad said.
He said there had also been an increase in the number of reoffenders between the years 2006 to 2009.
"It is the mind-set of these youths which is very difficult to change," he added.
Mr Prasad said the Ministry of Youth had been working with the FCS to conduct training programs to help prisoners change their mind-set.