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International Corrections
By Terry Campbell, Professor, Purdue University Global
Published: 10/22/2018

Atlanticocean Our topic for this month is ‘International Corrections.’ I always enjoy looking at the current data for this topic. After review of this information I can always compare and contrast with our current corrections systems here in the United States. I do not know if you are aware of the amount of research data and information available for review. Regardless of your corrections field and/or area of interests, you will find the information useful. I selected five documents to review and discuss. For each document I will provide some initial information and my observations.
  • World Prison Brief [1]
  • Global Prison Trends 2018 [2]
  • Global Trends in Corrections [3]
  • Prison Evidence of its use and overuse from around the world [4]
  • Prison Policy Initiative International Incarceration Comparisons [5]
The World Prison Brief provides the reader with prison populations from ‘highest to lowest’ totals. There were 233 countries identified and you are able to do a search by country. After clicking on a country, you will be provided with some specific statistics, overview, news, reports, resources and organizations. Also, there are additional ‘information tables.’

The Global Prison Trends 2018 document was also interesting and contained a variety of information. This document contains 60 pages of corrections related information. The report looks at criminal justice trends and use of imprisonment, however the following was interesting: “while overall crime rates around the world have declined, the number of people in prisons on any given day is rising.” The authors feel pre-trial detention is not being utilized enough and, unfortunately, prison is still the preferred response.

I found many of the dilemmas we face with our corrections systems are similar to other countries. Included in this report was a section for rehabilitation which is a good read. As previously discussed, this is a useful tool for research, policymakers, and those involved in creating fair corrections systems.

The Global Trends in Corrections document contains information to reflect many corrections systems throughout the world continue to face similar challenges. These challenges often focus on lack of resources; lack of medical and mental health support; dietary concerns; emphasis placed on incarceration versus alternatives to imprisonment; aging prison population; violence in prisons; and other areas. I selected two specific areas to share some staggering data: “Mongolia estimates that every year ten per cent of their inmates die from tuberculosis (TB). In Russia over 92,000 inmates have TB.” This report reinforces why corrections professionals need to collaborate with their peers from around the world and develop some common practices and ways to improve all correctional systems.

Prison evidence of its use and overuse from around the world contains 48 pages of content and references. The following ten jurisdictions were selected and systems compared with a variety of graphs to review. The jurisdictions are identified below:
  • Kenya and South Africa in Africa
  • Brazil and the United States in the Americas
  • India and Thailand in Asia
  • England and Wars, Hungary, and the Netherlands in Europe
  • Australia in Oceania
Each jurisdiction selected provided an overview and data identified to research. I found this information useful and interesting. I knew a little about these jurisdictions, however after reading the article I came away with a better understanding. Once again there were some similarities with areas of concerns and focus. This consisted of the use and overuse of imprisonment worldwide. Learned what the global data represents for imprisonment disparities. A good comparison was provided looking at imprisonment rates in the United States and other countries. Additional areas of concern identified and discussed sentencing disparities. Additional information addressed concerns with prison overcrowding and lack of resources. Corrections systems around the world find inmates ‘faced with violence, intimidation, and isolation.’ Emphasis was placed at finding solutions for these identified areas and ways to reduce imprisonment.

The last article I selected looks at Prison Policy Initiative International Incarceration Comparisons. The first area report selected looks at incarceration by States, the United States, and Founding NATO Countries. (June 2018). After review of the data I found the State of Oklahoma now has the highest incarceration rate in the United States. The United States continues to lead the world in incarceration. I found the comparison chart to be interesting. This chart compared the United States to NATO Countries.

The next report selected looks at States of Women Incarcerated by States, the United States, and Founding NATO Countries (June 2018). The prison incarceration rate continues to decrease, yet women incarcerated continues to be high. I found the following statistic interesting: “The United States accounts for over 30% of the world’s incarcerated women.’ In addition, there are some very good graphics with comparisons for you to review. As you would guess, there are many concerns with lack of programming and other areas for women incarcerated.

The final report I selected provides a very informative overview for ‘Life Imprisonment.’ I found this article to also be informative and is 16 pages in length.

The information I provided should give you ample information to consider and a desire to review the references and additional information contained in the articles.

Stay safe out there.

[1] http://www.prisonstudies.org/highest-to-lowest/prison-population-total?field_region_taxonomy_tid=All
[2] https://www.google.com/search?q=global+prison+trends+2018&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8&client=firefox-b-1
[3] https://www.crimeandjustice.org.uk/sites/crimeandjustice.org.uk/files/09627250108552892.pdf
[4] http://www.prisonstudies.org/sites/default/files/resources/downloads/global_imprisonment_web2c.pdf
[5] https://www.prisonpolicy.org/research/international_incarceration_comparisons/

Terry Campbell is a criminal justice professor at Purdue University Global and has more than 20 years of experience in corrections and policing. He has served in various roles, including prison warden and parole administrator, for the Arkansas Department of Corrections. Terry may be reached at tcampbell@purdueglobal.edu.

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