Irish Penal Reform Trust

Penal Reform International launch Global Prison Trends 2019

21st May 2019

Global Prison Trends 2019 is the fifth edition in Penal Reform International’s (PRI) annual flagship Global Prison Trends series which identifies topical developments and challenges in criminal justice, and prison policy and practice. The report is published in collaboration with the Thailand Institute of Justice.

Global Prison Trends 2019 explores:

  • Trends in the use of imprisonment, including the use of pre-trial detention as an automatic response to suspects; the ongoing challenge of prison overcrowding; and the steady growth in the number of life-sentenced prisoners around the world.
  • Prison populations, such as the specific needs of women, children and LGBTI prisoners.
  • Developments and challenges in prison management, including record levels of prisoner violence in a number of prison systems; healthcare challenges and shortages of qualified healthcare staff; and the need to address violent extremism and prevent radicalisation in the prison system.
  • The role of technology in criminal justice and prison systems
  • The expansion of prison alternatives, including community service orders and electronic monitoring, and a growing trend in the use of restorative justice.

This year, the ‘Special Focus’ section looks at healthcare in prisons and explores the ongoing ‘healthcare deficit’ that is becoming a major challenge in prisons. The report examines specific groups for whom access to healthcare can be particularly challenging, these include: women; children; people with mental health needs; people who use drugs; and prison staff.

Ireland is mentioned in the report in relation to the high numbers on restricted regimes in Mountjoy, largely for gang-related issues. The factors at play when determining whether to release life-sentence prisoners are also mentioned in the report. The report references Dr Diarmuid Griffin’s work, which found that political factors and fears of an adverse public reaction both played a role in deciding in deciding whether to grant parole.

To read Global Prison Trends 2019 in full, visit the PRI website here.

Read more:

Respect for rights in the penal system with prison as a last resort.



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