PRI's Bangkok Rules E-bulletin: January 2017
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Bangkok Rules E-Bulletin
Women in the Criminal Justice System

January 2017
Welcome to Penal Reform International's quarterly Bangkok Rules E-Bulletin, a round-up of news and developments from PRI and others around the world on women in detention, and the implementation of the UN Bangkok Rules. The views expressed in the news items are not necessarily those of PRI. 
What's in this issue?

The UN Bangkok Rules are a set of standards adopted by the UN General Assembly on 21 December 2010, which supplement existing standards for the treatment of prisoners by addressing the specific needs of women in the criminal justice system. For more information on the Rules see PRI's short guide on the Rules.

Community service and probation for women: Lessons and recommendations based on a study in Kenya

This new briefing outlines lessons and recommendations on designing and implementing community service and probation for women, in line with the UN Bangkok Rules. It draws on research from Kenya and other studies on women in the criminal justice system and is published within a project funded by the Thailand Institute of Justice.

Also read the research report on alternatives for women in Kenya or watch a short documentary.


Gender-specific responses to prison radicalisation needed

At an expert meeting in Malta organised by the International Institute for Justice and the Rule of Law on efforts to address radicalisation from 12-13 December 2016, Alison Hannah, Executive Director of PRI highlighted the position of women and children and prison radicalisation.  In addressing this issue, Alison highlighted that:
  • Gender-sensitive interventions are needed that take account of women’s histories and factors leading to involvement
  • A punitive approach is not a deterrent
  • A focus on security alone is not sufficient, any approach must be grounded in human rights, the rule of law, democracy and justice to be effective
  • Counter radicalisation programmes should be part of an overall prison reform plan and include improvements to prison conditions and programmes to promote change of minds and life aspirations
  • There is a need for child-friendly interventions for children who might be recruited while in detention or already radicalised

See also:
The US Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA) and beyond: sexual violence in detention

Linda McFarlane and Jesse Lerner-Kinglake of Just Detention International describe the effects of PREA, the practices and management issues that may make abuse more likely and the policy and culture change needed to eliminate it.
A trainer’s perspective on sensitising prison staff on the Bangkok Rules
In an interview with Mr Denyys M. Odhiambo, a human rights officer and trainer with the Kenyan Prison Service, PRI asked about his experiences in providing training on the UN Bangkok Rules to his colleagues in Kenya.

The incarcerated pregnancy: what is the experience of being pregnant in
an English prison?

Laura Abbott, senior lecturer in midwifery at the University of Hertfordshire, UK, introduces the early findings from her doctorate study on what it is like to be pregnant in prison and the quality of pre- and post-natal provision for women in English prisons. She also notes some emerging good practice, including a new Birth Charter for pregnant women in prison which sets out recommendations for treatment and services.


Improving Understanding of and Responsiveness to Gang-Involved Girls

This newsletter from the USA's National Gang Center provides information on gang-involved girls, female delinquency and human trafficking.  The main article is about understanding and responding to gang-involved girls, and summarises key findings from a National Council on Crime and Delinquency (NCCD) study.

Mothers in Prison

Mothers in Prison, by Nicholas Kristof of the New York Times highlights the increasing incarceration of women in prison and their stories. The article also discusses one potential alternative to imprisonment, a model program in Tulsa called Women in Recovery which works with both the women and their children. The program has shown positive results with recidivism rates at just 4.9 per cent over the three years after programme completion.

Body scans replace invasive searches in Thailand's women's prisons

Thailand is introducing full-body scanning technology for searching female prisoners following complaints over human rights violations during physical body searches.  This new practice is in line with Rule 20 of the Bangkok Rules, which encourages alternative screening methods, such as scans, to replace strip searches and invasive body searches, in order to avoid the harmful psychological and physical impact of invasive body searches.

E-learning tool: Police violence against women who use drugs

This Eurasian Harm Reduction Network resource is primarily tailored to the needs of women who use drugs and is targeted at this particular focus group. The tool is also intended to help those who work with communities of people who use drugs, including social workers, health care professionals, and providers of harm reduction services as an advocacy tool for fairer drug policies.

Women speak out: Understanding women who inject drugs in Indonesia

This report from Persuaduraan Korban Napza Indonesia (PKNI) states that despite their specific needs and greater marginalisation, women have been largely neglected in the national HIV strategy.

The Women’s Human Rights App

The updated app covers 146 keywords – including on detention and criminal justice - and has easy access to relevant international and regional legal instruments as well as agreed language contained in 250 UN documents on women’s human rights and gender equality.

The app is available for iOSAndroid and Blackberry

BBC Radio 4 drama: Bound

Bound is the first radio drama to be broadcast on the UK National Prison Radio. The original script was inspired by women prisoners' workshops. The prison scenes were recorded on location at HMP Styal, a women's prison near Manchester, and the supporting cast and crew includes women serving sentences in Styal.
Just published

In Search of Safety: Confronting Inequality in Women's Imprisonment by Barbara Owen, James Wells and Joycelyn Pollock look at the sources of gendered violence and conflict in women’s prisons.
Canada: Researcher who has studied infants living with their imprisoned mothers says both mothers and children often thrive
Canada: The annual report from Canada's correctional investigator states that indigenous people now represent more than a quarter of all inmates held in federal prisons
Colombia: Women, drug policy, and imprisonment: A guide for reforming policy in Colombia
Denmark: Fashion brand Carcel is empowering women in prison
Norway: Report of Norwegian NPM's visit to Bredtveit prison which is part of the special focus on women in prison in 2016
Thailand: 22 year old female drug smuggler receives life sentence
UK: Women offenders starting businesses upon release from prison
US: New report reveals significant overrepresentation of black women in solitary confinement across the United States
US:  Young women face harsher punishment in Maryland’s juvenile justice system
US: Massachusetts’ anti-shackling law limits restraints on pregnant prisoners but problems persist
US: Lawsuit filed challenging county jail’s practice of placing pregnant women in solitary confinement
US: Women in prison: histories of trauma and abuse highlight the need for specialised care
Vietnam: Draft circular: Prisons to allow inmates private time with spouse
Do you have new publications or resources to share on women and criminal justice?

We encourage you to send us any new materials, feedback, news items, blogs, etc... to share with this network of people interested in women and the criminal justice system. Please send to:

And connect with us on twitter @penalreformint
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