quarta-feira, 22 de fevereiro de 2012

Internatio​nal Centre for Prison Studies - 6th Edition - November/D​ecember 2011

International Centre for Prison Studies
6th Edition - November/December 2011
Welcome to the sixth edition of the ICPS News Digest, a selection of news items
from around the world on prison and the use of imprisonment. The articles have
mainly been selected for their relevance to current debates in the UK. The
Digest is produced bi-monthly and this issue covers the period from 1 November
to 31 December 2011. Please click on the blue highlighted words to access the
news reports.
Prison populations
Overcrowding continues to lead to inhuman and degrading treatment of prisoners
in many countries. In Chandigarh, India, a high level jail reform committee
reported that there are 1,119 prisoners being held in Rohtak jail when the jail
has capacity for only 370 prisoners, Sonipat jail has 815 prisoners but has
capacity for 363 and Narnaul jail has capacity for 292 prisoners and is holding
412. The committee said "In all these overcrowded jails, prisoners are treated
as human garbage living in most pitiable unhygienic conditions." Prisoners are
forced to sleep on verandas and on the floor between berths. Prisoners also
have to sleep on mattresses on the floor in Cork Prison, Ireland, due to
In British Columbia and Manitoba, Canada, overcrowding means federal prisons are
forcing some prisoners to be double bunked in segregation cells, a practice that
was supposed to have been abolished for everything but extreme emergency
situations a decade ago. The Office of the Correctional Investigator says
double bunking in segregation is a violation of government policy, the Charter
of Rights and international human rights standards. Overcrowding at the women's
prison in Kitchener, Ontario, means that a number of women have been forced to
double bunk in units reserved for family visits. The units, designed for
prisoners to spend up to three days with a spouse or family members, are built
to house only one prisoner and her loved ones but are currently holding eight
prisoners in each room.
An Australian Capital Territory Legislative Assembly committee has been told
that a lack of resources and space in Canberra's Alexander Maconochie Centre
(AMC) means some prisoners who need to be separated from other groups are
unable to attend programmes and activities. An official prison visitor told the
committee that the situation in the crisis unit is particularly concerning. "By
law they must have one hour of exercise so they're allowed out of their cell.
But guess what? They go into a corridor and walk up and down there. There is a
tiny, very small area [outside] but it's kind of meshed and it's enclosed. I
suppose it's like caged chooks."
The Bulgarian Helsinki Committee has reported that the overcrowding of prisons
in the country's largest cities remains a huge problem, triggering a number of
human rights abuses. During the Committee's last visit to the Burgas jail they
found 866 prisoners in a facility designed for 371. There were 40 beds in a 55
square metre cell; beds were often piled on top of each other while some
prisoners slept on mats on the floor. There were no toilets in the cells and
buckets were used instead. Similar conditions were found in the Varna jail
where cells of 25 square metres held 15 prisoners, there was poor lighting and
the cells were dirty.
Prisons across Nepal have seen a significant surge in the number of prisoners
they hold, posing a serious challenge to prison management. The number of
prisoners has doubled in the past ten years causing overcrowding and forcing
prisoners to live in inhuman conditions. There were 12,875 prisoners in the
country in December 2011, while the capacity of the prison system is only
6,416. Every space available in the prisons is used and other prisoners are
held in makeshift camps.
The President of Croatia has described the country's prisons as overcrowded but
said that great effort is made to make the prisons functional even in difficult
circumstances. Initiatives to reduce the overcrowding include the opening of a
new 420 prison in Glina, and a new law that aims to replace short-term jail
sentences with community work.
A study carried out by the Ombudsman's office in Peru has found that as of July
2011, the country's prison population stood at 48,858, despite the prisons only
being designed to hold 28,689 prisoners, meaning that the prisons are 70 percent
overcrowded. The report found that there are only 1,050 prison guards working in
the whole system.
The Nigerian Federal Government has again emphasised the urgent need to
decongest prisons across the country. The Minister of Justice stated that
statistics revealed that over 70 percent of the prison population are Awaiting
Trial persons and said the government would vigorously pursue measures to
address this issue, stating that "this figure is indefensible and must not be
allowed to persist as it reflects negatively on our entire criminal justice
system, both within and outside the country."
Italy's new Justice Minister has announced plans to release thousands of
prisoners in an attempt to ease overcrowding and save money. The plan would
release some 3,300 prisoners with 18 months or less to serve on their
sentences. The released prisoners would serve the remainder of their sentence
under house arrest.
In Russia the Prison Service has announced that the number of people in
pre-trial detention has dropped significantly over the last ten years. An
official said that pre-trial prisons are now only 90.3 percent full, while back
in 2001 they were 200 percent full. The trend is being linked with President
Medvedev's radical reform of the judicial system which was launched three years
The number of people in Australian jails has dropped for the first time in a
decade. There were 29,106 adult prisoners as of June 30th 2011, with just three
states contributing to the national decrease - New South Wales (NSW), Queensland
and Western Australia. The Australian Bureau of Statistics said the decrease in
the national prisoner population was primarily driven by the decline in NSW
which has reduced its prisoner numbers by eight percent over the last decade.
Canada's Correctional Investigator Howard Sapers has expressed concern in his
annual report about the growing number of over 50 year olds in the country's
prisons. About 20 percent of the 14,000 federal prisoners are 50 years and
older, an increase of over 50 percent in the last decade. Mr Sapers says the
government is ill-equipped to handle the accessibility and health and safety
issues associated with aging, saying that "some aging offenders find it
difficult to maintain everyday essential routines such as eating, bathing,
dressing and meeting their hygiene requirement." He has called for prison
design and regimes to be adapted to meet the needs of the older population, and
for prison staff to be better trained to be able to handle the needs of this
group. The Canadian Correctional Investigator has also launched an inquiry into
a 50 percent spike in the proportion of black prisoners filling federal jails
over the last ten years. Most of them are in Ontario, where 20 percent of the
entire federal prison population of 14,312 prisoners is black. Black people
make up around 2.5 percent of Canada's population.
In Queensland, Australia, the State Government has released the Indigenous
Justice Just Futures Strategy which aims to tackle what it says are the
underlying causes of indigenous crime - poverty, unemployment and alcohol and
drug abuse. Indigenous people are almost 12 times more likely to be imprisoned
than non-Indigenous people.
In New Zealand the Department of Corrections has enlisted clinical and cultural
experts to support clinical leadership of the healthcare services provided in
prisons. The committee will meet face-to-face four times a year and will have
monthly teleconferences. The members will look at such issues as the
effectiveness of prison healthcare services, staff training and development,
clinical safety and information and knowledge management.
Switzerland's first psychiatric unit for young people in trouble with the law
has opened in Basel to treat serious cases from German-speaking parts of the
country. The unit has space and facilities for 12 people and the regime
involves labour intensive therapy. The supervision includes social workers and
carers as well as medical and psychiatric specialists.
In Karachi, Pakistan, 80 prisoners have tested positive for HIV/AIDS in a
special screening campaign launched by Sindh Aids Control Programme (SACP)
following a directive from the
Sindh High Court. Around 1900 prisoners were screened and those who tested
positive are being treated. In Lahore a petition has been filed in the High
Court alleging misuse of World Bank funds given to the Punjab government for
the treatment of prisoners suffering from tuberculosis (TB) in the state's
jails. The NGO the Helms Foundation alleges that the funds have been misused by
the government, the jail authorities and the Health Department as the health
conditions of the prisoners were miserable and no improvement could be seen.
In Uganda the Medical Officer in charge of Luzira Upper prison has called on the
Government to allocate more funds from the prison's health budget in order to
reduce HIV/AIDS infections among prisoners. According to the medical personnel
HIV prevalence is still high because prisoners share razor blades and needles.
333 out of the 2,575 prisoners at Luzira Upper prison are living with HIV/AIDS,
of which 178 access antiretroviral medicine.
A survey in Zambia has revealed that 91 out of the 257 prisoners who underwent
voluntary testing and counselling at Kamfinsa State Prison tested positive for
HIV. A spokesman said "In our prisons the number of HIV positive people doubles
that of the outside communities. What is worrying is that the affected age group
is between 24 and 44 years, which is our most productive group."
Researchers at the 42nd Union World Conference on Lung Health have reported that
innovative TB control programmes in prisons have reduced the prevalence of TB.
The researchers cited the examples of Azerbaijan and Tanzania where TB control
and treatment initiatives are being implemented.
In Australia, Queensland's coroner has called for prisons to overhaul their
approach to hepatitis infections following the death in custody of an
Aboriginal teenager. The coroner found that the prisoner had tested positive
for hepatitis B and C but medical staff had elected not to treat him with
expensive antivirals because, as a remand prisoner, he would be less likely to
complete the treatment.
In the US, HIV positive prisoners are suing the state of Ohio saying they were
harassed and threatened after their medical records were released to the
general prison population. The lawsuit alleges that prison officials at the
Mansfield Correctional Institution left a record of prisoners being treated for
HIV in a location where it could be released to other prisoners. The Ohio
Department of Corrections is investigating.
Treatment of prisoners
Conditions in prisons in many countries continue to give cause for concern.
Female prisoners at Lusaka Central Prison in Zambia have complained of
deplorable and harsh living conditions in their cells. One prisoner said "In
the five years that I have been here, I have never sat on a chair and those of
us that seem fat are actually not fat but swollen. We are malnourished."
Particular concern was expressed about the treatment of pregnant women. In
response the Deputy Minister of Community Development, Mother and Child Health
said her Ministry will liaise with the Ministry of Home Affairs to chart ways
of addressing the challenges being faced by prisons and other detention centres
in the country.
The Irish Prison Service has been strongly criticised in a visiting committee
report for forcing women prisoners to strip naked to be searched for drugs in
the presence of male prison officers. The report also highlights the case of a
woman whose human rights were violated when she was forcibly removed from the
prison, as well as other instances where female prisoners were denied
toothbrushes and clean underwear.
The Centre for Victims of Torture in Nepal has warned that the current
conditions of detention in the country's jails do not respect the prisoners'
fundamental rights and amount to inhuman and degrading treatment. The Centre's
recent fact sheet, based on a study of seven prisons, showed that 74 percent of
those detained had been tortured during police interrogation and most of them
were found to be living in inhuman conditions. Most prisons are overcrowded and
prisoners are kept in unhygienic conditions and are denied access to basic
A year after a fire at the San Miguel Prison in Santiago, Chile, left 81
prisoners dead and 14 others in critical condition, reform legislation has made
little progress through Congress. Three months after the fire the Government
announced a series of measures to confront the issue of overcrowding, including
a bill that would allow some non-violent offenders to exchange jail time for
community service, which would have benefitted some 5,000 prisoners. However
the Senate still has not approved the final draft of the legislation. The lack
of progress in this area was also criticised in the Chilean National Institute
of Human Rights' annual report.
In New South Wales, Australia, a coroner has found authorities failed in their
duty of care to three men who committed suicide at Sydney's Villawood
Immigration Detention Centre in the space of three months. The coroner said
that in all three deaths "some of the actions of some of the staff were
careless, ignorant or both, and communications were sadly lacking," and found
that staff often ignored policies and procedures to deal with potential cases
of self-harm. The coroner criticised the Department of Immigration and
Citizenship, the Centre's operator Serco and health services contractor
International Health and Medical Services.
Law enforcement officials in Ukraine face professional misconduct sanctions
after the Council of Europe Committee for the Prevention of Torture (CPT)
highlighted concerns about the conditions and treatment of detainees in the
country. The report states "This relates in particular to the treatment of
persons detained by law enforcement agencies (a substantial number of
allegations of police ill-treatment were heard during the visit), the situation
in pre-trial establishments (notably at Kyiv SIZO where deplorable material
conditions were observed) and the conditions under which life-sentenced
prisoners serve their sentences (impoverished regime of activities, excessive
security arrangements, severe restrictions on contact with the outside world
The CPT has also published a report on its visit to Kosovo in which it expressed
concern about the over-familiarity between staff and prisoners in Dubrava prison
which were "indicative of a climate of favouritism." A Kosovan lawyer explained
that due to logistical issues guards routinely work in prisons where relatives
are prisoners. The CPT called upon
the relevant authorities to "take decisive action to combat the phenomena of
corruption and favouritism in all penitentiary establishments in Kosovo."
Prisoners in Grootvlei Prison outside Bloemfontein, South Africa, have been
striking and refusing to go to their court appearances because of unhappiness
with overcrowding, corruption among magistrates and prosecutors and other
issues. The Acting Area Commissioner confirmed that the facility is
overcrowded, an issue which they are addressing, but could not comment on the
allegations of corruption as investigations had to be instituted.
A top prison official says the demands of hundreds of protesting prisoners
across Kyrgyzstan are being addressed and changes are being made. He said that
the country's penitentiaries have started receiving medical supplies, visits by
friends and relatives of prisoners are being simplified and steps have been made
to start improving living conditions in correctional institutions.
The Ghanaian government has tripled the amount of money to be spent per day on
providing meals to prisoners. The Minister of the Interior explained that based
on the advice of experts the new amount would be able to provide "decent" three
square meals a day and would improve the health of the prisoners.
The Zimbabwean Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Justice, Legal,
Constitutional and Parliamentary Affairs has said the withdrawal of the
International Committee of the Red Cross from providing meals for prisoners has
severely compromised the operations of the Prison Service as the government
cannot adequately provide the prisoners with food. To alleviate the dire food
situation the committee recommended there was a need to equip the Prison
Services with necessary farming implements so that they can provide for their
own food.
Conditions in women's prisons and services offered to women prisoners in Lebanon
have improved considerably in the past ten years but there is still "a lot of
work to do" according to a newly released "Guide for Working in Women's Prisons
in Lebanon." The Guide aims to help those wishing to implement projects in
women's prisons by providing general information on rights of prisoners in the
country, as well as a 1999 - 2010 comparative study on the situation of women
in prison.
In Venezuela the Minister for Penitentiary Services is visiting every prison in
the country in order to assess living conditions and carry out a registration
of prisoners - a move which the minister hopes will be the first step in
humanising the nation's penitentiary centres and addressing the country's
problem with delays in the judicial system.
A report suggests China has made progress in protecting the human rights of
prisoners. The Ministry of Justice has rewritten the national code of conduct
for prisoners, eliminating a ban on homosexuality and other lifestyles and
practices not previously allowed in prisons. Prisoners will not be forced to
squat with both hands crossed behind their heads, a practice that is commonly
used to demoralise prisoners who are entering prison for the first time. Women
prisoners are now allowed to keep their hair dyed, which, according to the head
the Human Rights Office at the Ministry, is "a minor detail but with a great
significance to respect for human rights."
Prison violence
Prisoners in Gilgit, Pakistan, started a riot and injured a magistrate after a
blanket ban on cell phones in the sub-jail was introduced. Prisoners smashed an
empty teacup on a magistrate's head when he tried to conduct a body search of
prisoners suspected of illegally using cell phones in the prison. Prisoners
also set fire to furniture and blocked police reinforcements from gaining
access to the jail for over two hours. In Argentina a group of prisoners from
the number 29 prison in La Plata rioted and held a prison guard hostage. It was
reported that the prisoners were demanding better living conditions. The
situation was eventually controlled and no-one was hurt.
An NGO in Venezuela reported that by November 2011 the number of prisoners
killed in custody had surpassed the total for 2010. The Venezuelan Prison
Observatory, a non-governmental organisation that monitors conditions and
treatment in the country's penitentiary system, reported that 457 prisoners had
been killed and 1,061 seriously wounded while in custody up to that date. At the
beginning of November prisoners rioting at a jail in the city of San Cristobel
killed eight other prisoners and took four police officers hostage. The State
Police Chief said the prisoners resorted to violence to protest against long
delays that have prevented their cases from being heard in court.
In New Zealand a Corrections Department report revealed that prisoner attacks on
guards and other prisoners have nearly doubled in five years. Forty eight
prisoners were beaten or sexually assaulted by other prisoners in 2010/11
compared to 27 such incidents in 2006/07. A criminology professor from
Canterbury University said the rise in attacks is the result of increasing
overcrowding in prisons, saying that a rise in double bunking, increased
lock-up hours and reduced rehabilitation programmes can all add to tensions.
However a Corrections spokesman said the prisons are safe and that violence has
decreased dramatically since the 1990s.
Four prison officials in central Kazakhstan may face trial in connection with
the death of a prisoner whose body showed numerous signs of abuse and torture.
A court in Qaraghandy, the regional capital, ruled that four penitentiary
officers should be arrested as suspects in the case.
In the US allegations of abuse and other wrongdoing have sparked a federal
investigation of Alabama's state prison system. The investigation stems from
Ventress Correctional Facility in Barbour County where a prison guard was
accused of fatally beating a prisoner to death in 2010, but civil rights groups
who have lobbied for federal intervention claim Alabama's prison system has
fostered a culture of violence and abuse by prison guards against prisoners at
facilities across the state. The Alabama Department of Corrections confirmed
that it is cooperating with the Justice Department.
Puerto Rico's justice secretary has opened a criminal investigation against two
prison guards who were escorting eight prisoners who drowned while shackled in
a van which was
covered by floodwaters. A witness said the prisoners died because the guards
refused to unlock the van for fear that the prisoners would escape.
Prison activists in South Africa have said the country urgently needs laws that
criminalise torture in its penal system if it is to prevent the type of abuses
it was chastised for by the United Nations Human Rights Committee. Currently
the Correctional Services Act does not refer directly to a prohibition on
torture or ill-treatment. The use of equipment such as electro-shock belts,
stun shields, stun batons and leg irons has been criticised by anti-torture
Developments in rehabilitation
High security prisoners in Tihar Prison, India, will be permitted for the first
time to take part in the 'Tihar Olympics,' the annual inter-jail sports
tournament. According to Tihar Prison authorities the move is part of the
rehabilitation and reformation programme run across all the jails which make up
Tihar Prison. In Sabarmati Central Jail authorities are training some 40
prisoners to form a band. One of the aims of the band training is to enable
prisoners to learn skills that may help them in the rehabilitation process. In
Poojapura Central Prison prisoners are making chappatis to be sold at market.
The prisoners make the dough which is then put through a chappati-making
machine. The machine can produce up to 20,000 chappatis a day.
In Ras Al Khaimah Central Prison in the United Arab Emirates prisoners can put
their time to good use by revealing hidden artistic talents. Murals adorn ever
wall as prisoners are encouraged to paint their cells and corridors. Prisoners
also make chairs, tables, mirrors, traditional wooden mandoos and even model
Prisoners from Mangaung Correctional Centre in South Africa worked to transform
the waiting area at the Tshepong Victim Support Centre into a colourful room
with bright artwork. The prisoners repainted the room and manufactured new
furniture including cupboards and couches.
In Sindh Province, Pakistan, the Sindh Education Foundation has launched the
Jail School Project for the juvenile prisoners at the Central Jail, Sukkur. The
project aims to provide a proper educational curriculum inside the prison, and
will provide facilities including school bags and books for the children.
In Estonia prisoners are paid to produce t-shirts, bags and accessories which
are then sold online and through stockists in London, Denmark, Finland, Belgium
and the Netherlands. The work aims to provide hope and rehabilitation to the
prisoners, and fifty percent of all profit is donated to Estonian NGOs
benefitting orphanages and the homeless.
In Dubai the Awqaf and Minors Affairs Foundation (AMAF) has donated Dh191,000 to
the General Department of Punitive and Correctional Establishments of the Dubai
Police to encourage well behaved prisoners during their jail terms and to help
them perform Haj next year. The Foundation believes that Haj will help the
prisoners to reintegrate into the mainstream and to start anew.
The community rehabilitation programme for soon to be released prisoners in
Kajang, Malaysia, has been hailed a success with a zero relapse rate so far.
The prisoners, placed at five army camps during the programme, have learnt
entrepreneurship and vocational skills through undertaking activities such as
fish rearing and chilli planting. The prisoners are encouraged to use the
skills they have learnt to start businesses once released from prison.
Prisoners participating in a yam improvement project at the Prison Farm Centre
in Elele, Nigeria, are gaining skills on how better to cultivate the tuber
crop. The partner organisations implementing the project intend to give
participating prisoners healthy seed yam to start yam production when they
leave prison. Researchers say that the success of the project will pave the way
for similar projects across the country along the yam growing belt.
Prisoners at the New Bilibid Prison in the Philippines have produced a Christmas
video with popular male singing group Angelos. The music video has three songs
with Angelos and another three sung by the Bilibid Prison College Guild alone.
The activity seeks to help change the image of the prison system and stress its
rehabilitative aspect.
In Perth, Western Australia, Noongar radio's 'Inside Out' programme helps to
provide a link between prisoners and their families. The four hour music
request programme airs every Sunday night and prisoners can formally request
songs to be dedicated to their friends and families by applying to prison
staff, who check them through security before passing them on to the show.
Family and friends in the community can also call the station to request songs.
The programme has been praised for bridging the gap between the prison and the
wider community.
A study by researchers at the Minnesota Department of Corrections in the US has
determined that prisoners who received at least one personal visit at any time
during their imprisonment were 13 percent less likely to commit another offence
and 25 percent less likely to end up back in prison on a technical parole
violation. Date showed that the more visits prisoners received the lower their
chance of committing further crime on release.
Sentencing and the law
In the US the Fair Sentencing Act, passed by Congress in August 2010, changed
the disparity between minimum sentences for crack and powder cocaine from 100-1
to 18-1. The US Sentencing Commission voted to make the reduced crack penalties
retroactive, taking effect in early November 2011. More than 12,000 current
prisoners are eligible to request reduced sentences and the Commission
estimates that 1,800 of those became eligible for immediate release.
Also in the US legislation that would make it more difficult to cover up the
causes of deaths in jails, prisons and private detention centres appears poised
to pass Congress. The Senate Judiciary Committee has now approved the Deaths in
Custody Reporting Act which would make it mandatory for all public and private
prisons, jails and boot camps to report deaths
and their causes to the Justice Department. The Attorney General would then be
required to analyse and report on the causes of death.
The former chief minister of the Australian Capital Territory has said that
deaths in custody should be treated as corporate manslaughter, citing the
example of the UK where the Corporate Manslaughter and Homicide Act was
recently extended to cover all deaths in custody. He said that it was right to
demand that prison operators should be accountable and that the human rights of
prisoners were upheld.
Data provided by the Department of Correctional Services in Jamaica show that
between January and July 2011, 46 percent of all those sentenced were
imprisoned for non-violent or minor offences. The country's prisons currently
contain twice as many prisoners as they were built to hold. The use of more
non-custodial sentences is among a number of options being explored by the
national security ministry to reduce the overcrowding in the nation's prison
Those convicted of minor offences in the state of Sabah, Malaysia, will soon be
asked to do community work at the state's various welfare homes instead of
serving time in prison. Discussions are taking place between the Prisons
Department and the State Government to extend the Compulsory Attendance Centre
(CAC) to Sabah by 2012. The CAC offers a second chance for those convicted by
giving them the chance to serve their sentences within society whilst working
and earning money to support their families.
Thousands of Ukrainians could be released from prisons and the budget could
receive badly needed cash when a new law comes into force in early 2012. The
legislation narrows the range of economic crimes for which a person can be
detained and kept in prison, changing the punishment from imprisonment to a
Police in the Cook Islands are introducing two restorative justice schemes for
people facing minor offences. The diversion and pre-charge warning schemes will
be reviewed in six months, before a decision is made about implementing them
permanently. They will target first time offenders facing charges which carry
maximum penalties of less than a year's imprisonment.
Western Australia's Auditor General has found an increase in the number of
prisoners being denied or stripped of parole is costing the state an extra $42
million a year. The report showed that between April and December 2009, the
number of people whose parole was cancelled or rejected grew by more than 700.
The Auditor General said a harder stance taken by the Prisoners Review Board
has had a major impact, with only 21 percent of parole applications now
accepted compared to 92 percent three years ago.
The President of Sri Lanka has told Parliament that there are about 650,000
cases awaiting trial. He gave an example of a case in which the accused in a
murder trial was released because all the witnesses died in the two decades it
took for the case to get to court. The President explained that new computer
systems are being introduced to efficiently monitor the filing of new cases and
the conclusion of old ones so that there can be effective intervention to
prevent a backlog. He also pointed out that increased emphasis is being
given to popularising arbitration as an alternative method of dispute resolution
as well as giving legal aid to the poverty stricken via legal clinics in
Hundreds of prisoners have gone on hunger strike in jails in the eastern Indian
state of West Bengal to demand speedier trials. It is estimated there are
around 3,000 prisoners awaiting trial in the state. More than 170 of those have
spent more than five years on remand, while another 25 have spent more than a
decade in prison without trial.
The National Assembly of Cambodia has passed a law to reform the country's
prisons, but critics say its wording remains unclear and one section that
allows prisoners to work for private companies should not have been included.
A report released in Canada has shown that it will cost some $19 billion to
build prisons to imprison more people for longer periods of time as part of the
federal government's 'tough on crime' legislation. It says the cost of the plan
to end the practice of judges handing prisoners time credits - on a two for one
basis, to compensate for time spent in pre-sentence custody - at $16.5 billion
for the country as a whole, with the provinces expected to pay for $12.6
billion of that. The cost of the introduction of mandatory prison sentences for
drug-related crimes and child sex offences is estimated at $2.3 billion.
In New Zealand the Labour Party's justice spokesman wants to eliminate jail
sentences of less than six months because they are of "zero utility." He said
abolishing short sentences, commonly used for minor offences such as drug
possession and stealing cars, would free up money to help offenders with their
education and addictions. Labour also proposes more use of police diversion for
people caught possessing drugs or committing minor offences under the influence
of drugs or alcohol.
In Israel the Public Security Ministry and the Prison Service may put an end to
the use of electronic bracelets that allow prisoners who are not yet sentenced
to be monitored outside of prison, apparently because of numerous breaches. But
some critics believe the Prison Service is taking the step out of concern that
the ever dropping occupancy rate in prisons will lead to a significant budget
In Ireland nearly 7,000 people had been jailed up to the end of November 2011
for failing to pay fines - the highest number in recent years. This is despite
the introduction of laws 18 months previously which were supposed to stop the
imprisonment of fine defaulters. A key part of that legislation - allowing the
payment of fines by instalment - has not been introduced because funding was
not provided to update the Courts Service computer system. The money has been
allocated in the 2012 budget but the system will then take 12 months to be
Prison policy
In New South Wales, Australia, an increase in lockdowns in prisons, caused by
budget cuts and staff shortages, has raised concerns for the safety of
prisoners and guards, the Public Service Association has said. A local MP said
lockdowns created a pressure-cooker environment in prisons, posing a safety
risk. He said "Lockdowns should only be used when
the security of guards and inmates is at risk, not because it's cheaper to run a
prison when all the inmates are locked in their cells."
In Victoria, Australia, a report by the Sentencing Advisory Council concluded
that jail is unlikely to deter crime and could make it worse. The report said
research had shown imprisonment "has, at best, no effect on the rate of
reoffending and is often criminogenic resulting in a greater rate of
recidivism.compared with offenders who receive a different sentencing
In India the Committee on Draft National Policy on Prison Reforms and
Correctional Administrations has submitted its recommendations concerning
Central and State Governments. The recommendations include the inclusion of
prisons in the Concurrent List; the formulation of a comprehensive central law
to replace the Prison Act 1894; the amendment of the Representation of People
Act 1951 to allow all prisoners the right to vote; and the continuation of the
scheme to modernise the prisons. However the Home Ministry did not find it
feasible to take any action on the first two of these recommendations and the
Supreme Court has rejected the third recommendation.
A prisoner swap agreement signed between the United Arab Emirates and India has
unintended consequences for some of the 40 Indian women in UAE jails. They fear
that returning to India will reveal to family and friends that they were
convicted of prostitution. The Transfer of Sentenced Persons agreement will
pave the way for convicted prisoners from both countries to complete their
sentences in their homelands.
Under a project sponsored by the South Korean Ministry of Justice, trials of
robot prison guards will be held for a month at a jail in the city of Pohang
from March. The robots are designed to patrol the corridors of corrective
institutions, monitoring conditions inside the cells. If they detect sudden or
unusual activity such as violent behaviour they alert human guards. The robots
can also work as a communication channel when prisoners want to contact guards
in an emergency.
In the US, Riverside County in Southern California has approved a measure which
will allow them to charge prisoners for the daily cost of their stay, amounting
to $142.42 per prisoner per day. The county will review the reimbursement
requirements of prisoners on a case-by case basis and make determinations based
on their ability to pay. The County believes that 25 percent of the people who
go through the jail system will be able to afford to pay, which result in a
saving to the County of $6.7 million.
The Ghanaian President has offered assurances that the government will resource
the Electoral Commission to put in place mechanisms that would enable prisoners
to exercise their franchise.
Prison authorities from Uganda and Rwanda have agreed to establish a joint
committee to help the two countries improve service delivery in their
facilities. Under the arrangement there would be learning and sharing of
information on best practices in terms of training, prison design, environment
management and rehabilitation programmes. Prison officials
from the two countries will meet every year to strengthen the relationship
between the two institutions to ensure implementation of agreed areas of
China plans to spend 46.3 billion yuan upgrading police-run detention houses
over the next five years. The money will be used to improve the conditions in
the houses, to provide basic human rights for those held in them, to try and
solve the problem of overcrowding and to build more rooms where lawyers can
meet their clients.
The Japanese government plans to introduce a system to approve temporary
suspensions of prison terms by revising relevant laws. According to government
sources, bills to revise the Penal Code and related laws will be submitted to
the current Diet session. The bills allow some prisoners to be released on
probation before serving full prison terms. The envisaged system will be
introduced as an intermediate between suspended and full prison terms and will
apply to defendants who are sentenced to prison terms of up to three years for
less serious crimes. For example the court could hand down a ruling calling for
two years punishment but make the prisoner eligible for probation after 18
ICPS is very grateful to the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation for supporting this News

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Mensagem de boas-vindas

"...Quando um voluntário é essencialmente um visitador prisional, saiba ele que o seu papel, por muito pouco que a um olhar desprevenido possa parecer, é susceptível de produzir um efeito apaziguador de grande alcance..."

"... When one is essentially a volunteer prison visitor, he knows that his role, however little that may seem a look unprepared, is likely to produce a far-reaching effect pacificatory ..."

Dr. José de Sousa Mendes
Presidente da FIAR