Dr. Ali Bin Hussain al Harithi denied reports that more than 70 percent of the inmates are incarcerated on drug-related charges, Gulf News reported Wednesday.
The correct figure, al Harithi said, is around 47 percent.
He acknowledged that the number is still very high and illustrates the fact that Saudi youth are being targeted.
Al Harithi did not say how many inmates are female, but indicated most were foreigners.
"The number of Saudi women in jails is around 6 or 7 percent of the total number of women inmates and most of them are held for simple offenses," he said.