Despite positive reforms in each country in recent years, criminal justice systems in this region are in a critical state.
Living conditions tend to be poor, and violence in prison and torture and ill-treatment of detainees are widespread, and there is little public oversight of detention facilities. Prison populations are high, reflecting harsh sentencing policies and practices, where prison continues to be used at the expense of non-custodial alternatives.
The overuse of pre-trial detention and imprisonment, along with associated problems of overcrowding, are persistent challenges. Other challenges concern the absence of separate systems for the administration of juvenile justice, weak systems for re-integrating prisoners into society, and the arbitrary detention of political dissidents.
PRI has been working in the region since 1998, and has an office in Moscow. Current work focuses on torture prevention and improving independent public oversight of places of detention, protecting the rights of vulnerable groups in prisons, particularly women and children, and promoting alternatives to imprisonment.