The 32 correctional facilities, most of which were built during the colonial era, are meant to hold 5 610 inmates.
But as of early March this year, the facilities were home to 13 878 inmates, according to National Statistical Data for Prisoners compiled by the Prisons Inspectorate.
The failure to confirm the cases has caused congestion and exacerbated the spread of communicable diseases, shortage of sleeping space, lack of food and increased physical abuse among the inmates.
Zomba, Maula and Blantyre top the list of correctional facilities keeping the largest number of inmates whose sentences are yet to be confirmed by the High Court at 1 922 954 and 912, respectively.
Others are Mzimba 530, Mzuzu 402, Nkhotakota 342, Chikwawa 299, Makande 264, Mwanza 261 and Ntchisi 259.
Overcrowding affects health of prisoners and access to adequate food and other basic needs, according to acting Chief Commissioner of Prisons, Little Dinizulu Mtengano.
In terms of number of inmates in the prisons, Mzuzu Prison designed to hold 160 had 600 inmates as of early March; Maula with a holding capacity of 800 inmates was home to 2 879 while Zomba had 4 000 instead of 1 000.
Mhango said it was important for the Judiciary to move with speed and address the issue to ensure that justice is expeditiously dispensed equally among all sectors of people in the country.
“We are happy that the Judiciary has acknowledged the problem to the extent that the Chief Justice constituted a core group with the aim of decongesting prisons. Asgroup and we are happy to see that the judiciary is becoming more proactive and responsive to the issues concerning criminal justice system,” said Mhango.
Three weeks ago Mtengano said inmates living with HIV/Aids are failing to cope with antiretroviral drugs due to insufficient foods available to them.
He appealed to development partners and other stakeholders to supply supplementary nutritious foodstuffs to prisons to boost the immunity among the inmates.
The Special Law Commission is currently facilitating a review of the Prisons Act to improve conditions and reduce congestion.