Prison Conditions Around the World

Series Titles • The History of Punishment and Imprisonment • Juveniles Growing Up in Prison • Political Prisoners • Prison Alternatives and Rehabilitation • Prison Conditions Around the World • The Treatment of Prisoners and Prison Conditions • The True Cost of Prisons • Unequal Justice • Women Incarcerated

Prison Conditions Around the World BY Craig Russell FOREWORD BY Larry E. Sullivan, PhD Associate Dean, John Jay College of Criminal Justice


Mason Crest 450 Parkway Drive, Suite D

Broomall, PA 19008 www.masoncrest.com

Copyright © 2018 by Mason Crest, an imprint of National Highlights, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, taping, or any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher.

Printed and bound in the United States of America.

First printing 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1

Series ISBN: 978-1-4222-3781-6 Hardcover ISBN: 978-1-4222-3786-1 ebook ISBN: 978-1-4222-8001-0

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

Names: Russell, Craig, 1953- author. Title: Prison conditions around the world / by Craig Russell ; foreword by   Larry E. Sullivan, PhD, Associate Dean, John Jay College of Criminal Justice. Other titles: Incarceration around the world Description: Broomall, PA : Mason Crest, [2018] | Series: The prison system |   Includes index. Identifiers: LCCN 2016054103| ISBN 9781422237861 (hardback) | ISBN   9781422237816 (series) | ISBN 9781422280010 (ebook) Subjects: LCSH: Prisons--Juvenile literature. | Imprisonment--Juvenile literature. Classification: LCC HV8705 .R87 2018 | DDC 365--dc23

Developed and Produced by Print Matters Productions, Inc. (www.printmattersinc.com)

Cover and Interior Design : Tom Carling, Carling Design Additional Text: Brian Boone

QR CODES AND LINKS TO THIRD PARTY CONTENT You may gain access to certain third party content (“Third Party Sites”) by scanning and using the QR Codes that appear in this publication (the “QR Codes”). We do not operate or control in any respect any information, products or services on such Third Party Sites linked to by us via the QR Codes included in this publication, and we assume no respon- sibility for any materials you may access using the QR Codes. Your use of the QR Codes may be subject to terms, limitations, or restrictions set forth in the applicable terms of use or otherwise established by the owners of the Third Party Sites. Our linking to such Third Party Sites via the QR Codes does not imply an endorsement or sponsorship of such Third Party Sites, or the information, products or services offered on or through the Third Party Sites, nor does it imply an endorsement or sponsorship of this publication by the owners of such Third Party Sites.


Words to understand: These words with their easy-to-understand definitions will increase the reader’s understanding of the text while building vocabulary skills. Sidebars: This boxed material within the main text allows readers to build knowledge, gain insights, explore possibilities, and broaden their perspectives by weaving together additional information to provide realistic and holistic perspectives. Educational Videos: Readers can view videos by scanning our QR codes, providing them with additional educational content to supplement the text. Examples include news cover- age, moments in history, speeches, iconic sports moments and much more! Text-dependent Questions: These questions send the reader back to the text for more careful attention to the evidence presented there. Research projects: Readers are pointed toward areas of further inquiry connected to each chapter. Suggestions are provided for projects that encourage deeper research and analysis. Series glossary of key terms: This back-of-the-book glossary contains terminology used throughout this series. Words found here increase readers’ ability to read and comprehend higher-level books and articles in this field. Foreword by Larry E. Sullivan, PhD ............................................. 6 1 Is the United States Different?......................................... 9 2 Africa...................................................................................13 3 Latin America.....................................................................25 4 Asia..................................................................................... 39 5 Europe................................................................................ 49 6 The Middle East.................................................................61 7 International Prison Reform Efforts............................... 69 Series Glossary ....................................................................... 73 Further Resources .................................................................... 76 Index ....................................................................................... 78 About the Author, Series Consultant, and Picture Credits ........... 80

Foreword Prisons have a long history, one that began with the idea of evil, guilt, and atonement. In fact, the motto of one of the first prison reform organizations was “Sin no more.” Placing offenders in prison was, for most of the history of prison systems, a ritual for redemption through incarceration; hence the language of punishment takes on a very religious cast. The word penitentiary itself comes from the concept of penance, or self-punishment to make up for a past wrong. When we discuss prisons, we are dealing not only with the law, but with very strong emotions and reactions to acts that range fromminor crimes, or misdemeanors, to major crimes, or felonies, such as murder and rape. Prisons also reflect the level of the civilizing process throughwhich a culture travels, and it tells us much about how we treat our fellow human beings. The 19th-century Russian au- thor Fyodor Dostoyevsky, whowas a political prisoner, remarked, “The degree of civilization in a society can be measured by observing its prisoners.” Similarly, Winston Churchill, the British primeminister duringWorldWar II, said that the “treatment of crime and criminals is one of the most unfailing tests of civilization of any country.” For much of the history of the American prison, we tried to rehabilitate or modify the criminal behavior of offenders through a variety of treatment programs. In the last quarter of the 20th century, politicians and citizens alike realized that this attempt had failed, and they began passing stricter laws, imprisoning people for longer terms, and building more prisons. This movement has taken a great toll on society. Beginning in the 1970s federal and state governments passed mandatory minimum sentencing laws, stricter habitual offender legislation, and other “tough on crime” laws that have led today to the incarceration in prisons and jails of approximately 2.3 million people, or an imprisonment rate of 720 per 100,000 people, the highest recorded level in the world. This has led to the overcrowding of prisons, worse living conditions, fewer educational programs, and severe budgetaryproblems. Imprisonment carries a significant social cost since it splits families and contributes to a cycle of crime, violence, drug addiction, and poverty. The Federal Sentencing ReformAct of 1984 created a grid of offenses and crime categories for sentencing that disallowedmitigating circumstances. This grid was meant to prevent disparate sentences for similar crimes. The governmentmade these guidelinesmandatory, thereby takingmost discretionary sentencing out of the hands of judges who previously could give a wider range of sentences, such as one year to life, and allow for some type of rehabilitation. The unintended consequences of this legislative reform in sentencing was the doubling of the number of incarcerated people in the United States. Combined with the harsh sentences on drug offenders, almost half of the prisoners in the federal system are narcotics offenders, both violent and nonviolent, traffickers and users. States followed suit in enacting the harsh guidelines of the federal government in sentencing patterns. “Life without parole” laws and the changes in parole and probation practices led to even more offenders behind bars. Following the increase in the number of incarcerated offenders, more and more prisons were built with the aid of federal funds and filled to the brim with both violent and nonviolent offenders. In addition,


the prison System

many states handed over penal custody to the new private for-profit prisons that stemmed from mass incarceration. In the 21st century officials, politicians, and the public began to realize that such drastic laws wrought much harm to society. With the spread of long-term imprisonment, those who had spent decades in prison were unemployable after release. Their criminal histories followed them and made it difficult if not impossible to find gainful employment. Therefore, they entered the criminal world continually and thus sped up the vicious cycle of crime- imprisonment-release-crime-punishment. America was reaching the tipping point; some- thing had to give. In response to this growing trend of harsh sentencing, for example, the Supreme Court led the way between 2005 and 2016 with decisions banning the death penalty for juveniles (Roper v. Simmons, U.S. 551 [2005]), life sentence without parole for juveniles not convicted of homicide (Graham v. Florida, 130 S. Ct. 2011 [2010]); and life without parole for juveniles (Miller v. Alabama and Jackson v. Hobbes 132 S. Ct. 2455 [2012] and Montgomery v. Louisiana 135 S.Ct. 1729 [2015]). Behavioral psychologists and other officials do not consider juveniles capable of making fully formed decisions, and the Supreme Court has recognized the devel- opmental differences that excuses full individual responsibility and applies to their actions the philosophic principle of just deserts.Many states (90 percent of prisoners are under state, not federal jurisdiction) are beginning to take action by reducing harshmandatory sentences for adults. Most states, for example, have gone toward the decriminalization or legalization of marijuana, with lighter penalties for possession of the drug. Sincemost prisoners in state institutions are violent, however, contemporary America is caught in a dilemma withwhich many academics and governmental policy makers are aggressively grappling. All these are reasons why this series on the prison system is extremely important for understanding the history and culture of the United States. Readers will learn all facets of punishment: its history; the attempts to rehabilitate offenders; the increasing number of women and juveniles inprison; the inequality of sentencing among the races; attempts to find alternatives to incarceration; the high cost, both economically andmorally, of imprisonment; and other equally important issues. These books teach us the importance of understanding that the prison system affects more people in the United States than any institution, other than our schools.

Larry E. Sullivan, PhD Associate Dean Chief Librarian John Jay College of Criminal Justice Professor of Criminal Justice Graduate School and University Center City University of New York


Prison Conditions Around the World

Prisons in other countries can be very different from those in the United States. Although convicted and incarcerated, American inmates still retain many of their rights, both as citizens and as human beings. They generally receive three meals a day and a warm, clean place to sleep. They are allowed visitors and have access to gyms, libraries, television, and fresh outdoor air. They receive health and dental care. Most have the opportunity to rehabilitate themselves. And they can be reasonably sure they will not be tortured or murdered—at least not by prison guards. This series examines the many problems facing the American prison system. Among those issues: overcrowding, underfunding, a lack of consistent health care options, recidivism , andmultiple kinds of violence (including riots, guard- on-inmate violence, and sexual assaults, which often go underreported). While concerned Americans have often quite rightly criticized the conditions and abuses in the own nation’s prisons, prisoners in the United States are treated quite well compared to some other countries. Prisoners are well fed and generally have access to at least minimal health care, exercise, visitations, rehabilitation programs, and law libraries, among other services. These things are a given in American prisons, which reflects the country’s stable government and prioritiza- tion of human rights, even among prisoners. For although they are incarcerated, Words to Understand Recidivism: The repeating of or returning to criminal behavior. The recidivism rate is the percentage of released prisoners who go on to commit new crimes. Squalid: Filthy and wretched. Subhuman: Below an acceptable level of treatment for a person. Is the United States Different?

Prison cell block, Alcatraz Island.


Prison Conditions Around the World

inmates are not forced to live in squalid , subhuman conditions. This is primarilybecause of two things many others lack. First, the United States has had a stable, democratic government for hundreds of years. Because there is no open warfare over who controls the government, there are fewer political prisoners and less hatred toward the government’s op- position. That reflection is similarly true for prison sys- tems around the world, for better or for worse. Around the world, the conditions in which a prisoner lives mirrors just how stable or unstable the government of the country where the pris- oner is incarcerated. There is a lot of political unrest around the world. This re- sults in horrifying peniten- tiaries in every corner of the globe.

The guard tower seen from within the Louisiana State Penitentiary in Angola, LA.

The American Prison System

An overview of the controversial conditions and sentences imposed on inmates.


the prison System

A first-of-its-kind program where inmates learn coding at San Quentin State Prison.

Text-Dependent Questions 1. What are some services to which U.S. prisoners generally enjoy access? 2. Is the U.S. prison system generally more regulated and safer than other prison systems around the world? 3. How does a stable government affect a country’s prison system? Research Projects 1. Detail what the average day for the average American prisoner looks like. 2. Pick a time period in U.S. history (e.g., the 1920s, colonial America) and research what life in an American prison was like at that time.


Prison Conditions Around the World

Civil wars, political unrest, and the rise of extremist groups , along with wide- spread poverty, health crises, and droughts and other natural disasters, havemade it difficult for Africa to move on from centuries of cruel and vicious colonial rule byEuropeannations. Africannations are now independent, but corruption, coups, and political and economic instability are the norm for many countries. This has led to political and other types of prisoners being densely packed into hundreds of substandard, often abusive prisons. Malawi The 1996 Kampala Declaration on Prison Conditions in Africa described those conditions with a single word: inhuman. One example isMalawi, located in the southeastern part of the continent. With a population of about 17.3 million, it is one of the poorest countries in Africa. It has among the highest rates of child mortality , HIV/AIDS infection, illiteracy , and death during childbirth. It also rates among the lowest for life expectancy. Words to Understand Child mortality: The deaths of infants and children under five years old. The child mortality rate is the number (or percentage) of children dying before age five. Extremist groups: Groups of people who hold extreme, or fanatical, political or reli- gious views, especially those who favor violence. Gruel: Thin, watery cereal. Illiteracy: Inability to read or write. Kwashiorkor: A severe disease caused by a lack of protein in the diet. Scabies: A contagious, extremely itchy skin condition caused by small insects called mites. Tuberculosis: A serious bacterial infection of the lungs that is easily spread. Africa

An Oxfam International health worker runs a question-and-answer session with inmates at Bunia Prison, where sanitation is poor and the risk of cholera is high due to overcrowding.


Prison Conditions Around the World

Malawi’s main facility, Zomba Central Prison, is more than 80 years old and receives little if any funding formaintenance. Themajority of the nation’s prisons are concrete and brick, with roofs made of sheets of iron. At Maula Prison the women’s section is completely made of iron sheets, which makes it extremely hot during the summer and extremely cold during the winter. Often these sheets are rotten and leaking. At Kasungu Prison the iron roof was replaced with a network of barbed wire. Like most African prisons, those in Malawi are extremely overcrowded. The Malawi Law Commission in 2016 found that prisons there held almost three times the recommended number of inmates, putting them at risk of developing tuberculosis and other diseases. As of 2016 there were over 14,430 inmates in Malawi prisons, which were meant to house between 5,000 and 7,000 inmates. The capacity of Zomba Prison is 800, but as of 2013 it housed more than 2,000 inmates. There are so many prisoners in the new Mzimba Prison that they have only about eight square feet (less than 1 square meter) each. There is not enough room for people to lie down when they sleep, so they sit one in front of the other with their legs bowed. Even when they do have room to sleep, few have beds or even mattresses. Most sleep on the bare floor with a single blanket. Most prisons in Malawi lack electricity. During the winter, then, prisoners The combination of overcrowding and poor maintenance has left the toilets unsanitary. Condemned prisoners at Zomba have no toilets at all and must use buckets. In most prisons, sewage backs up into the water supply and comes out on the inmates when they take showers. At night they have no access to toilets and must use buckets or plastic bags. Although inmates in Malawi receive a uniform when they first arrive, it soon wears out. At Zomba and Nkhata Bay, most prisoners walk around almost naked or in rags. Soap is a rare thing for prisoners. Inmates at Mzuzu Prison have gone more than five months without receiving soap from the prison administration. In- mates at Maula said the administration there never gave them any soap. What little they had came from family members. This lack of soap and cleanliness is largely responsible for the lice and scabies from which so many prisoners suffer. Food is another concern. Inmates in Malawi get only a single meal a day, usually a gruel made of corn, boiled beans, and sometimes sweet potatoes. They receive very little meat or fish. Inmates at Mzimba Prison in northern Malawi face starvation, as they often spend days without eating because authorities claim there is a lack of funding. Often food is donated by families and other supporters. spend more than 60 percent of their time in darkness. Extremely Unhealthy Conditions


the prison System

Made with FlippingBook - Online catalogs