PRI launched the second annual edition in our Global Prison Trends series at the UN Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice in Vienna on 24 May. It describes key global trends in the use and practice of imprisonment and the pressing challenges facing states that wish to organise their penitentiary systems in accordance with international norms and standards.
Topics include: developments in international criminal justice policy; changes to policy at the national level; prison population trends; prison management issues and new technologies. The 2016 report also has a new section on the provision of food in prisons, with representative data on food expenditure.
The report also includes a Special Focus pull-out section Prison staff: Overworked and underpaid? This special feature provides a global perspective on prison staff recruitment, pay and conditions, professional training, and issues relating to their health, safety and wellâ€‘being.
Our tweet of the month
Being born in prison is bad enough for baby, mustn't get #HIV as welcome 2 world. @UNODC_HIV
The first of two blogs by Rob Allen, PRI associate, highlights some of the findings from the 2016 edition of PRIâ€™s Global Prison Trends report. The second looks at prison staff issues featured in the special pull-out section, highlighting good practice examples and documenting the many instances of insufficient pay, training and numbers of prison staff to ensure safety and security.
Gen Sander of Harm Reduction International introduces a new tool for use by prison monitoring mechanisms to monitor the management of communicable diseases and harm reduction in prisons and prevent human rights violations in this context.
This tool was produced as part of an EU-funded project. The Irish partner in the project, Irish Prison Reform Trust, has produced a report onImproving Prison Conditions by Strengthening the Monitoring of HIV, HCV, TB and Harm Reduction in Ireland, which will be launched in Dublin on 23 June. See details here. The international report by Harm Reduction International can be found here.
UN Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice
From 23-27 May, the annual UN Crime Commission took place in Vienna. PRI hosted various side-events detailed below, and co-sponsored events on alternatives to custody by the Quakers and HIV in prisons by UNODC.
New resource: Why criminal justice reform is essential to the UN Agenda for Sustainable Development
PRI believes that justice and prison reform will underpin the achievement of not only Sustainable Development Goal 16 (peaceful and inclusive societies, access to justice and account institutions), but many of the other SDGs. Read our short overview outlining why and how.
Looking ahead: the UN Human Rights Council and the World Congress Against the Death Penalty
The UN Human Rights Council will hold its 32nd regular session in Geneva between 13 June and 1 July. There will be a full-day discussion on the human rights of women, and PRI is hosting a side-event on the rights of women in conflict with the law.
Steps towards implementation by governments shared at the Crime Commission
At an event organised by PRI and co-sponsored by the Permanent Missions of Norway, Canada and Uruguay on 24 May at the UN Crime Commission, representatives of six governments shared information on early implementation efforts of the Nelson Mandela Rules. Participants attending the event heard how the Mandela Rules are an important tool for corrections, providing a baseline and framework for addressing the many challenges prisons face.
For example, in the US, the adoption of the Mandela Rules was timely given the review of the use of solitary confinement. Delegates heard how in Canada the Mandela Rules have provided an opportunity for dialogue on current policies to assess what is appropriate and consistent with UN standards. Delegates from Jordan and Italy highlighted prison overcrowding, which should be addressed in parallel with implementation of the Mandela Rules.
In Uganda, a consultation held earlier in 2016 has resulted in the Commissioner-General of the Prison Systemâ€™s order for the Rules to be disseminated to all prison staff nationally and for regulations to be reviewed so they can be incorporated. It was noted that while countries like Uganda do not have all the resources needed to implement all of the Rules, ensuring that prison officers understand the rationale and â€˜the spiritâ€™ of the Rules can go a long way in improving the treatment of prisoners.
Updated marked version of the Mandela Rules showing substantive revisions (English)
PRI has produced an updated marked version of the Mandela Rules as adopted by the UN General Assembly. It seeks to provide interested parties with a version showing the revisions to the original Rules.
Call for proposals: Consultancy for Guidance Document on the Nelson Mandela Rules
PRI is currently inviting proposals for a consultant to undertake research and draft a Guidance Document on the revised Rules (under a project run by OSCE-ODIHR in cooperation with PRI). The deadline for applications is 20 June 2016.
PRI and Linklaters LLP have published a study that surveys nine jurisdictions to consider how legislation and the courts take into account a history of domestic violence in cases where women have killed their abusers.
The study (by Linklaters LLP on a pro bono basis) investigates the relevance of a history of abuse - with a focus on battered woman syndrome and the slow burn reaction - both in assessing culpability and in determining sentencing.
In the majority of jurisdictions reviewed, there is no specific legislative basis for a history of abuse to be considered a defence or mitigating factor in sentencing.
Although the above is true, some jurisdictions regard a history of abuse as relevant to substantiate an existing defence, such as duress in New Jersey, US or provocation in India.
The broadness of formal sentencing guidelines in some of the jurisdictions surveyed does permit the consideration of a history domestic abuse in sentencing.
A small number of jurisdictions have amended criminal law legislation to introduce new defences specifically available to victims of abuse (Queensland, Australia).
In many jurisdictions, existing defences - such as self-defence, insanity and provocation - have proved ill adapted to the situation of women suffering from battered woman syndrome or the slow burn reaction.
The Thailand Institute of Justice is accepting applications for a training programme on the Management of Women Prisoners for Senior Correctional Staff in the ASEAN Region from 10-19 August in Bangkok.
The training will aim to assist participants in designing a framework for implementing the Bangkok Rules and other international standards.
Gender-sensitive community and probation orders in Kenya
In this blog, PRI Policy Director, Andrea Huber, describes how a pilot research project in Kenya is paving the way for community service and probation orders to be more sensitive to the needs of women offenders.
UNODC has produced a handbook to inform procedure relating to the management of high-risk prisoners. It is designed to be used by prison managers and prison staff in particular, but is also useful for policymakers, legislators, and members of non-governmental organisations.
The International Committee of the Red Cross has published an online course that provides users with a basic understanding of what happens when people are deprived of their liberty. It is available in English, French and Spanish.
This project tells the stories of 30 people with experience of pre-trial detention themselves or through loved ones. It highlights inhumane conditions including years awaiting trial, lack of clothing and food and death by medical neglect.