PRI e-newsletter May 2016
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May 2016  
Welcome to Penal Reform International's monthly e-newsletter, a round-up of PRI and other penal reform news from around the world and a variety of criminal justice and human rights resources.

The views expressed in the news items below are not necessarily those of PRI.
In this month's edition

In the spotlight

Global Prison Trends 2016

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 well‑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

Monica Beg, Chief of HIV/AIDS section, UNODC
New blogs

Two blogs on Global Prison Trends 2016

The first of two blogs by Rob Allen, PRI associate, highlights some of the findings from the 2016 edition of PRI’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.
HIV/AIDS in prisons can’t be ignored if the world is to move closer to the Sustainable Development Goal 3 on Health

Political will and resources are needed to address the disproportionately high rates of people with HIV/AIDS in prison, says Olivia Rope, PRI’s Programme Officer.

Read also this article by three UN Special Rapporteurs on health recognising the need for harm reduction policies if the target under SDG3 to end the HIV epidemic by 2030 is to be achieved.
Scaling up harm reduction in prisons: a role for prison monitors and new tools

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 on Improving 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.

Norway: how a partnership with the Salvation Army is helping provide a ‘safer way home’ for foreign national prisoners

This blog for PRI by Lucy Slade, a former resettlement mentor manager and Winston Churchill Memorial Trust fellow, highlights the good practice of a resettlement programme for foreign prisoners facing deportation in Norway that provides support prior to release that is continued upon the prisoner’s return to their home country. Read Lucy's full report on approaches to foreign prisoners in the Netherlands, Spain, Norway and Sweden.
Global advocacy
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.
Side-events included:  
Read also this statement made by PRI to the Crime Commission on implementation efforts following the adoption of the Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners (the Nelson Mandela Rules).
Read more about PRI’s involvement with the Commission.
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.
Download the side-event flyer
PRI will also be attending the 6th World Congress against the Death Penalty in Oslo, Norway from 21-23 June, and hosting a panel on Sharia Law and the Death Penalty (see PRI’s publication examining Sharia law and Islamic jurisprudence on this issue).
Nelson Mandela Rules
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 System’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 ‘the spirit’ 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.

The Rules can be found here in other languages.

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.

Please see here for more information and to download the Terms of Reference.
Women in the criminal justice system
Women who kill in response to violence

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.
Findings include:
  • 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.
Call for participants: UN Bangkok Rules training in Thailand
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.
Other news and resources

Women, Drug Policies, and Incarceration: A guide for policy reform in Latin America and the Caribbean now available in English  
Australia: Female prisoners to be managed under gender specific standards
Ecuador: An Ecuadorian prison radio show is changing women’s lives
Mexico: 13000 women jailed in Mexico mostly for carrying weed
Scotland: Closure of only all-female prison to begin this summer
Scotland: New Scottish women's prisons to resemble flats
South Africa: SA among the leading countries in respect of women incarceration
US: Meet the former lawyer and inmate fighting for America’s incarcerated women  
Alternatives to imprisonment
Conditions in detention
UNODC handbook on management of high-risk prisoners

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.

Understanding Detention e-learning course

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.
Other news and resources
Argentina: Inmates live with rats, bats and garbage in Argentine jails
Colombia: Prisoners endure health crisis inside Columbian jails
Dominican Republic: Dominican inmates vote
Italy: Government launches jail suicide plan
New Zealand: Why are there so many Maori in New Zealand's prisons?
Republic of Ireland: Number of prisoners dying rose to 22 in 2015
Scotland: Inmates spending 23 hours a day in cells at £140m prison
South Africa:  C-Max prison a living hell, claim inmates
Sri Lanka: Sri Lanka committed to make prisons system more humane
Syria: At least 60,000 have died in Assad regime’s jails during Syrian war monitoring group says
Taiwan: Justice Ministry proposes allowing inmates to work leading up to release
UK: Synthetic cannabis having a devastating impact in prisons
UK: Probation staff monitoring more than '70 cases' at a time

On overcrowding

Colombia: Colombia failing to reduce desperate overcrowding in prisons
Indonesia: Harsh judicial system leads to prison over capacity, experts say
Iran: Police chief: Iran’s prisons are full, harsher measures now needed
Scotland: Animation by Scottish government on why the prison population keeps increasing despite crime rates decreasing
UN torture prevention experts urge Romania to tackle prison overcrowding

On solitary confinement

Europe: Concern over 'political' use of solitary confinement in European prisons
US: Solitary confinement is now banned in country’s largest juvenile justice system
Pre-trial justice
New reports on pre-trial justice

Fair Trials launched a new report A measure of last resort? The Practice of Pre-Trial Detention Decision-Making in the EU at the European Parliament on the 26 May.

For guidance for policy-makers and prison authorities on reducing pre-trial detention, see PRI’s new 10-point plan.

For up-to-date information on the global use of pre-trial detention, read the new edition of Global Prison Trends.
Jailhouse Stories: Stories of Pre-trial Detention in Texas

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.
Other news and resources

Egypt: At least 1464 people exceeded pre-trial detention limits
Ghana: Supreme Court strikes down law on non-bailable offences
India: Judiciary in clean-up mode, targets years-old cases of undertrials  India
Liberia: Chief Justice says too many Liberians in prison who are not supposed to be
UK: Another remand prisoner dies

Torture prevention

Tunisia creates National Preventive Mechanism

Tunisia has become the first country in the Middle East and North Africa region to establish a National Preventive Mechanism to monitor the treatment of prisoners, following its ratification of the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture (OPCAT) in 2011.

PRI’s MENA office is currently running a project in Tunisia to improve the experiences of prisoners through reducing overcrowding and developing rehabilitation services. Read more here

See also: Canada to join UN anti-torture Protocol
Other news and resources
Canada: Canada drug policy mandatory minimum sentences struck down
India: Horrific conditions for India's death row prisoners
India: India’s long wait for justice 27 million court cases trapped in a legal logjam Indonesia: Indonesia sets up firing squads for new executions
Indonesia: Better oversight of places of detention in Indonesia
Israel: Justice Ministry drafting law on criminalizing torture of suspects
Nigeria: National Open University of Nigeria grants full waiver to prison inmates desiring education
Paraguay: Juvenile detention centres, a very real Dante’s Inferno in Paraguay
Taiwan: Taiwan executes man
UK: Restraint injuries persist at youth jail where boy died 12 years ago
UK: Children in care should not face prosecution for minor offences, urges report
US: Justice Department no longer uses terms felon or convict
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