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PenalReform

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PenalReform

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PenalReform

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Penal Reform International (PRI) is an independent non-governmental organisation that develops and promotes fair, effective and proportionate responses to criminal justice problems worldwide.

Latest Episodes

California’s prison gang problem: the role of prison size

Gang rule or ‘extra-legal governance’ in US prisons is linked to ever larger facilities. One way to make prisons safer and reduce the influence of gangs is therefore to make prisons smaller. This blog is by David Skarbek, Senior Lecturer in Political Economy at King's College London. This is part of PRI's expert guest blog series. Read a text version of this blog at www.penalreform.org

9 min2016 NOV 25
Comments
California’s prison gang problem: the role of prison size

The Dutch experience: innovating practice to support foreign national prisoners

Worldwide more than a half a million foreign nationals are detained abroad. While entitled to assistance under international law, in practice only a few countries provide assistance to their nationals. One of these is The Netherlands. However, uniquely, as well as assistance provided by diplomatic staff, Dutch citizens detained abroad can also receive regular visits from ex-patriate volunteers in a scheme run by the Dutch Probation Service. Femke Hofstee van der Meulen, Director of Prison Watch, evaluated the impact of the volunteer programme as her PhD and summarises her findings here in an expert blog for Penal Reform International. Visit www.penalreform.org/blog for a text version of this podcast.

9 min2016 MAR 24
Comments
The Dutch experience: innovating practice to support foreign national prisoners

How to build a prison compliant with human rights norms

To fill the gap between international norms and the relative lack of information on how to build a compliant prison in difficult circumstances, UNOPS recently developed a Technical Guidance for Prison Planning document that facilitates a human rights-based approach in the development of prison infrastructure. This blog post by Gordon Nuttall and Pedja Jurisic (UNOPS) is adapted from the manual, which was updated in 2016 to reflect the recent adoption of the Mandela Rules, and outlines some common ‘mistakes’ in prison design, and three key principles to keep in mind.

8 min2016 FEB 25
Comments
How to build a prison compliant with human rights norms

Nourish: thinking about food in prison

In many countries, prison food is insufficient in quantity and quality. Budgets are low (less than 0.5 USD per prisoner per day according to data recently gathered by PRI) and there have been cases where prisoners have died from starvation. In higher-income countries, food is more available but still may not be ‘of nutritional value adequate for health and strength, of wholesome quality and well prepared and served’, as prescribed by the newly revised Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners. The World Health Organization Regional Office for Europe recently published a new report, Food Systems in Correctional Settings, which examines the critical role of food in the physical and mental health of incarcerated people and the construction of their identities and relationships. Amy Smoyer, from Southern Connecticut State University (USA), is a co-author of the report. She introduces the report here, highlighting in particular the psycho-social importance of food.

10 min2016 JAN 26
Comments
Nourish: thinking about food in prison

The European Supervision Order for transfer of defendants: why hasn’t it worked?

Foreign national prisoners often suffer disproportionately in the criminal justice system. They may have to negotiate prison life whilst contending with a different culture, language and without the regular family contact or visitors other prisoners may enjoy. As the number of foreign nationals in prison is considerable in many countries, the issue of the transfer of convicted prisoners has been high on the agenda in recent years. Conversely, little recognition has been given to the possibility of transfer of non-custodial alternatives imposed on nationals of other countries either pre-trial or following conviction. However, the European Union made a first attempt to address the issue, with the European Supervision Order (ESO) in 2009, which was intended to enable defendants charged with an offence abroad to await their court hearing in their home country supervised by local authorities. The implementation of the ESO has, however, been challenging. In this blog, Bruno Min, Legal and...

7 min2015 DEC 2
Comments
The European Supervision Order for transfer of defendants: why hasn’t it worked?

No prison is an island – the role of civil society in post-conflict penal reform

Restoring the justice and prison systems back to working order is an essential and often urgent task for post-conflict states. In this expert blog for PRI, Terry Hackett, Warden of Pacific Institution in British Columbia (BC), Canada, draws on his recent research into civil society action in justice and correctional reform in Rwanda after the genocide of the early 1990s, to demonstrate the potential value that civil societies can bring to correctional reform processes in a post-conflict setting. Terry's qualitative research is based on 22 interviews of government officials and former and current NGO staff members involved in correctional reform since the 1994 genocide, as well as observations and site visits that occurred in Rwanda in late 2014. A full account of his research can be found in his recently published article The Prison should not be an island: the role of Civil society in post conflict prison reform in Rwanda, Acta Criminologica: Southern African Journal of Criminology...

8 min2015 NOV 25
Comments
No prison is an island – the role of civil society in post-conflict penal reform

Preventing infectious diseases in prisons: a public health and human rights imperative

The spread of infectious diseases is a serious problem in prison systems worldwide, with prisoners often many times more likely to be living with Tuberculosis, HIV or hepatitis than a person in the community. Alongside the generally poor and unsanitary conditions prevalent in prisons, one major route to infection is unsafe injecting drug use. Yet very few jurisdictions permit or provide harm reduction services (such as clean needles) in prisons. In this blog, Gen Sanders, Human Rights Research Analyst at Harm Reduction International, says that states have both a public health duty and a human rights obligation to tackle the dangerous combination of drugs and infectious disease in closed settings. www.penalreform.org/blog

5 min2015 OCT 23
Comments
Preventing infectious diseases in prisons: a public health and human rights imperative

In California’s experience, it isn’t bigger prisons that crime victims want

‘Tough on crime’ policies are often justified on the basis that putting people in prison for longer is what victims want and deserve. In 2013, Californians for Safety and Justice, which campaigns for more effective public safety policy − conducted a survey to find out whether this was what victims in California actually did want. The results turned the established narrative on its head. In this expert blog for Penal Reform International, Lenore Anderson, Executive Director of Californians for Safety and Justice, explains how crime survivors are uniting in California both to improve provision of trauma recovery services for victims and to advocate for justice reform.

7 min2015 AUG 25
Comments
In California’s experience, it isn’t bigger prisons that crime victims want

Introduction to the 'Mandela Rules' with PRI's Andrea Huber

On 22 May 2015, at the UN Crime Commission in Vienna, states agreed on a new set of prison standards – a new and updated version of the well-known and well-used Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners (SMR). Andrea Huber, PRI’s Policy Director, was involved in the revision process and was present in Vienna when the adoption of the resolution containing the new text was adopted. In this podcast, she explains why the Rules needed to be revised and what the changes could mean for prisoners, prison staff and for prison management. Length: 20 mins.

18 min2015 JUN 15
Comments
Introduction to the 'Mandela Rules' with PRI's Andrea Huber

Failed drug policies in Latin America: the impact on prisons and human rights

In Latin America, around one third of all detainees are in jail for drug-related offences. The 'war on drugs' has had a damaging impact both on communities in the region and on the functioning of prison systems. In this last of our expert guest blogs for our anniversary year, Luciana Pol, Senior Fellow on Security and Human Rights at Center for Legal and Social Studies (CELS) in Argentina welcomes initiatives in several Latin American countries to start to recalibrate the criminal justice response to drugs and welcomes the inclusion of human rights perspectives into next year’s Special Session of the UN General Assembly on the World Drug Problem (UNGASS) in April 2016.

8 min2015 APR 30
Comments
Failed drug policies in Latin America: the impact on prisons and human rights

Latest Episodes

California’s prison gang problem: the role of prison size

Gang rule or ‘extra-legal governance’ in US prisons is linked to ever larger facilities. One way to make prisons safer and reduce the influence of gangs is therefore to make prisons smaller. This blog is by David Skarbek, Senior Lecturer in Political Economy at King's College London. This is part of PRI's expert guest blog series. Read a text version of this blog at www.penalreform.org

9 min2016 NOV 25
Comments
California’s prison gang problem: the role of prison size

The Dutch experience: innovating practice to support foreign national prisoners

Worldwide more than a half a million foreign nationals are detained abroad. While entitled to assistance under international law, in practice only a few countries provide assistance to their nationals. One of these is The Netherlands. However, uniquely, as well as assistance provided by diplomatic staff, Dutch citizens detained abroad can also receive regular visits from ex-patriate volunteers in a scheme run by the Dutch Probation Service. Femke Hofstee van der Meulen, Director of Prison Watch, evaluated the impact of the volunteer programme as her PhD and summarises her findings here in an expert blog for Penal Reform International. Visit www.penalreform.org/blog for a text version of this podcast.

9 min2016 MAR 24
Comments
The Dutch experience: innovating practice to support foreign national prisoners

How to build a prison compliant with human rights norms

To fill the gap between international norms and the relative lack of information on how to build a compliant prison in difficult circumstances, UNOPS recently developed a Technical Guidance for Prison Planning document that facilitates a human rights-based approach in the development of prison infrastructure. This blog post by Gordon Nuttall and Pedja Jurisic (UNOPS) is adapted from the manual, which was updated in 2016 to reflect the recent adoption of the Mandela Rules, and outlines some common ‘mistakes’ in prison design, and three key principles to keep in mind.

8 min2016 FEB 25
Comments
How to build a prison compliant with human rights norms

Nourish: thinking about food in prison

In many countries, prison food is insufficient in quantity and quality. Budgets are low (less than 0.5 USD per prisoner per day according to data recently gathered by PRI) and there have been cases where prisoners have died from starvation. In higher-income countries, food is more available but still may not be ‘of nutritional value adequate for health and strength, of wholesome quality and well prepared and served’, as prescribed by the newly revised Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners. The World Health Organization Regional Office for Europe recently published a new report, Food Systems in Correctional Settings, which examines the critical role of food in the physical and mental health of incarcerated people and the construction of their identities and relationships. Amy Smoyer, from Southern Connecticut State University (USA), is a co-author of the report. She introduces the report here, highlighting in particular the psycho-social importance of food.

10 min2016 JAN 26
Comments
Nourish: thinking about food in prison

The European Supervision Order for transfer of defendants: why hasn’t it worked?

Foreign national prisoners often suffer disproportionately in the criminal justice system. They may have to negotiate prison life whilst contending with a different culture, language and without the regular family contact or visitors other prisoners may enjoy. As the number of foreign nationals in prison is considerable in many countries, the issue of the transfer of convicted prisoners has been high on the agenda in recent years. Conversely, little recognition has been given to the possibility of transfer of non-custodial alternatives imposed on nationals of other countries either pre-trial or following conviction. However, the European Union made a first attempt to address the issue, with the European Supervision Order (ESO) in 2009, which was intended to enable defendants charged with an offence abroad to await their court hearing in their home country supervised by local authorities. The implementation of the ESO has, however, been challenging. In this blog, Bruno Min, Legal and...

7 min2015 DEC 2
Comments
The European Supervision Order for transfer of defendants: why hasn’t it worked?

No prison is an island – the role of civil society in post-conflict penal reform

Restoring the justice and prison systems back to working order is an essential and often urgent task for post-conflict states. In this expert blog for PRI, Terry Hackett, Warden of Pacific Institution in British Columbia (BC), Canada, draws on his recent research into civil society action in justice and correctional reform in Rwanda after the genocide of the early 1990s, to demonstrate the potential value that civil societies can bring to correctional reform processes in a post-conflict setting. Terry's qualitative research is based on 22 interviews of government officials and former and current NGO staff members involved in correctional reform since the 1994 genocide, as well as observations and site visits that occurred in Rwanda in late 2014. A full account of his research can be found in his recently published article The Prison should not be an island: the role of Civil society in post conflict prison reform in Rwanda, Acta Criminologica: Southern African Journal of Criminology...

8 min2015 NOV 25
Comments
No prison is an island – the role of civil society in post-conflict penal reform

Preventing infectious diseases in prisons: a public health and human rights imperative

The spread of infectious diseases is a serious problem in prison systems worldwide, with prisoners often many times more likely to be living with Tuberculosis, HIV or hepatitis than a person in the community. Alongside the generally poor and unsanitary conditions prevalent in prisons, one major route to infection is unsafe injecting drug use. Yet very few jurisdictions permit or provide harm reduction services (such as clean needles) in prisons. In this blog, Gen Sanders, Human Rights Research Analyst at Harm Reduction International, says that states have both a public health duty and a human rights obligation to tackle the dangerous combination of drugs and infectious disease in closed settings. www.penalreform.org/blog

5 min2015 OCT 23
Comments
Preventing infectious diseases in prisons: a public health and human rights imperative

In California’s experience, it isn’t bigger prisons that crime victims want

‘Tough on crime’ policies are often justified on the basis that putting people in prison for longer is what victims want and deserve. In 2013, Californians for Safety and Justice, which campaigns for more effective public safety policy − conducted a survey to find out whether this was what victims in California actually did want. The results turned the established narrative on its head. In this expert blog for Penal Reform International, Lenore Anderson, Executive Director of Californians for Safety and Justice, explains how crime survivors are uniting in California both to improve provision of trauma recovery services for victims and to advocate for justice reform.

7 min2015 AUG 25
Comments
In California’s experience, it isn’t bigger prisons that crime victims want

Introduction to the 'Mandela Rules' with PRI's Andrea Huber

On 22 May 2015, at the UN Crime Commission in Vienna, states agreed on a new set of prison standards – a new and updated version of the well-known and well-used Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners (SMR). Andrea Huber, PRI’s Policy Director, was involved in the revision process and was present in Vienna when the adoption of the resolution containing the new text was adopted. In this podcast, she explains why the Rules needed to be revised and what the changes could mean for prisoners, prison staff and for prison management. Length: 20 mins.

18 min2015 JUN 15
Comments
Introduction to the 'Mandela Rules' with PRI's Andrea Huber

Failed drug policies in Latin America: the impact on prisons and human rights

In Latin America, around one third of all detainees are in jail for drug-related offences. The 'war on drugs' has had a damaging impact both on communities in the region and on the functioning of prison systems. In this last of our expert guest blogs for our anniversary year, Luciana Pol, Senior Fellow on Security and Human Rights at Center for Legal and Social Studies (CELS) in Argentina welcomes initiatives in several Latin American countries to start to recalibrate the criminal justice response to drugs and welcomes the inclusion of human rights perspectives into next year’s Special Session of the UN General Assembly on the World Drug Problem (UNGASS) in April 2016.

8 min2015 APR 30
Comments
Failed drug policies in Latin America: the impact on prisons and human rights
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