A short prison sentence, a fine, or life imprisonment – all for the same offence: Exploring sentence disparities in ten countries

Sentencing people who are convicted of a criminal offence is complex business. The sentencing policy and practice of any given country has a significant impact on prison population and overcrowding rates, and is closely linked with the ability to provide safe, humane prison conditions in line with international standards like the UN Nelson Mandela Rules. […]

Catherine Heard5th August 2020

We are 30: Looking forward to the next decade

“It all started with a meeting…” 30 years ago, Vivien Stern, Ahmed Othmani and Hans Tulkens created Penal Reform International. They had in common the belief we still cherish, as stated by Nelson Mandela: “No one truly knows a nation until one has been inside its jails”. In other words, the health of criminal justice […]

Florian Irminger21st November 2019

UN reports mortality rates for people in prison as much as 50 percent higher than wider community

The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights published a report in September 2019 on the administration of justice and human rights analysing violence, death, and serious injury in situations of deprivation of liberty. In this blog, Aldyen Krieger, PRI’s Policy Intern, evaluates the primary drivers behind the high exposure to violence and increased mortality […]

Aldyen Krieger18th November 2019

Elderly life-sentenced prisoners: a forgotten and ‘invisible’ group

In this blog, PRI’s Vicki Prais, looks at the challenges faced by elderly people in prison, sentenced to life imprisonment. Vicki notes that the ‘greying’ of the prison population has seen an upward trend and warrants attention as it is a group that will certainly grow given the rise in life sentences handed down globally. […]

Vicki Prais23rd August 2019

Life imprisonment: A practice in desperate need of reform

At the UN Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice in May 2018, Olivia Rope, PRI’s Policy and Programme Manager, called on the UN and its member states to address the global increase in life sentences and their implementation. In this blog, based on Olivia’s speech, Katie Reade summarises the causes of the current crisis, […]

Katie Reade11th June 2018

Global Prison Trends 2018: a global view on the state of prisons

PRI has launched its annual flagship publication, Global Prison Trends 2018. Here we publish the foreword to the report, written by the Rt Hon Helen Clark, a Member of the Global Commission on Drug Policy, Former Prime Minister of New Zealand, and Former Administrator of the United Nations Development Programme. Every year, Global Prison Trends by […]

Rt Hon Helen Clark15th May 2018

Successful challenge to life without parole for children in the US led by former PRI Board Member, Bryan Stevenson

On Monday this week, the US Supreme Court ruled in Montgomery v Louisiana that people currently serving life sentences for offences they committed as juveniles must either be considered for parole or re-sentenced. In 2012, the Court had held that a mandatory life sentence without parole (LWOP) was unconstitutional for those under the age of […]

Dirk van Zyl Smit, with Harriet Lowe3rd February 2016

How can criminal justice systems from police to probation address the medical and social care needs of elderly prisoners?

The number of older prisoners in prison populations is growing in many countries, in part due to ageing populations and often in part to punitive sentencing policies. However, older prisoners are more likely than their peers in the community to be disabled, to have multiple, costly chronic health conditions, and experience age-related cognitive impairment including […]

Cyrus Ahalt and Brie Williams25th February 2015

Recommended New Year reading from PRI: Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson

For the second time in the past three months, PRI has been sent a book that gives a devastating insight into the dysfunctional workings of the American criminal justice system. In the first, Nancy Mullane, also a winner in our international journalism competition last year, interviews a number of prisoners and  follows their attempts to […]

Alison Hannah8th January 2015