Around the world prisoners, their families, and society as a whole, is being harmed by prison systems. Many prisons violate international standards and human rights and prison populations are continuing to face issues of overcrowding.
In 2013, the occupancy levels of 114 national prison administrations were above 100 percent. This overcrowding creates deteriorated conditions for prisoners as many prisons are unable to meet the Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners. This also leads to overstretched management and can transform prisons from places of reform to breeding grounds for increased crime.
As conditions worsen, penal systems tend to disproportionately affect those living in poverty. The UNODC thus approaches prison reform with three goals, “reducing the scope of imprisonment, improving prison conditions, and supporting social reintegration of offenders upon release.”
How can the United Nations encourage prison reform and address violations to the international standards of human rights? How can the international community address over-crowing in prisons both at home and abroad?