Global Prison Trends 2020

Penal Reform International released a document Global Prison Trends 2020.
Global Prison Trends 2020 documents the chronic issues that have led to this human rights and public health crisis and the challenges facing criminal justice systems in responding to the global pandemic.

The report documents a record 11 million people in prison worldwide, with over 124 prisons exceeding their maximum occupancy rate. Global Prison Trends shows how this increase in numbers is driven by a punitive approach to criminal justice where more costly prison sentences are favoured over non-custodial alternatives.
The overcrowding and underfunding of prisons, alongside the overuse of imprisonment, has resulted in poor health services and sanitary conditions for prisoners that make people in prison and prison staff acutely vulnerable to COVID-19.
The special focus of Global Prison Trends 2020 identifies the solution presented by increasing the use of alternatives to imprisonment and the challenges governments may face in implementing this. PRI advocates for an increase in the use of alternatives to detention as a solution to the global prison crisis and in the long-term to reduce reoffending rates, better protect human rights and tackle overcrowding.

Global Prison Trends 2020 explores the following subjects:
– Crime, justice and imprisonment
– Trends in the use of imprisonment, including the funding of penitentiary systems
– Prison populations such as women, children, older persons and minority groups
– Prison management including the provision of health services
– The role and use of technology in prison
– A special focus on alternatives to imprisonment

Read the document

Executive-Summary-GPT-English

Interim Guidance. COVID-19: Focus on persons deprived of their liberty.

IASC – Inter-Agency Standing Committee published Interim Guidance. COVID-19: Focus on persons deprived of their liberty.

COVID-19 has been declared a global pandemic and as it is spreading, identified vulnerabilities such as the situation
of persons deprived of their liberty in prisons, administrative detention centres, migration detention centres and drug rehabilitation centres, require a specific focus.
Persons deprived of their liberty might face higher vulnerabilities as the spread of the virus can expand rapidly due to
the usually high concentration of persons deprived of their liberty in confined spaces and to the restricted access to
hygiene and health care in some contexts. International standards highlight that states should ensure that persons in
detention have access to the same standard of health care as is available in the community, and that this applies to all
persons regardless of citizenship, nationality or migration status.
Maintaining health in detention centres is in the interest of the persons deprived of their liberty as well as of the staff of the facility and the community. The state has the obligation, according to international human rights law1, to ensure the health care of people in places of detention. If the risks related to the virus in places of detention are not addressed, the outbreak can also spread to the general public.
The series of messages below aim at assisting OHCHR and UNCT/HCT in addressing the specific issues of persons
deprived of their liberty with the responsible services and ministries (Ministry of Justice/Ministry of Interior/Ministry of Health/Agencies in charge of migration and rehabilitation centres, etc).

Read the guidance 

Statement of principles relating to the treatment of persons deprived of their liberty

The Council of Europe’s Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT) has published a statement of principles relating to the treatment of persons deprived of their liberty in the context of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.

“The Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic has created extraordinary challenges for the authorities of all member States of the Council of Europe”, says Mykola Gnatovskyy, President of the CPT. “There are specific and intense challenges for staff working in various places of deprivation of liberty, including police detention facilities, penitentiary institutions, immigration detention centres, psychiatric hospitals and social care homes, as well as in various newly-established facilities/zones where persons are placed in quarantine. Whilst acknowledging the clear imperative to take firm action to combat COVID-19, the CPT must remind all actors of the absolute nature of the prohibition of torture and inhuman or degrading treatment. Protective measures must never result in inhuman or degrading treatment of persons deprived of their liberty.”

In the CPT’s view, the following principles should be applied by all relevant authorities responsible for persons deprived of their liberty within the Council of Europe area.

Read Statement of principles