By Prison Reform International (PRI) and the Thailand Institute of Justice (TIJ)

This year, PRI’s flagship publication Global Prison Trends, published alongside the Thailand Institute of Justice, has been released at a crucial time as prisons worldwide are being pushed to breaking point by the COVID-19 pandemic. Global Prison Trends 2020 documents the chronic issues that have led to this human rights and public health crisis and the challenges facing criminal justice systems in responding to the global pandemic.

To mark the launch of Global Prison Trends 2020 international criminal justice practitioners and human rights leaders, including United Nations Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights, Ilze Brands Kehris and the President of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, Joel Hernández García attended an online webinar launch to discuss the report and PRI’s recommendation that governments urgently reduce their prison populations and begin a long-term shift towards alternatives to detention. 

The report documents a record 11 million people in prison worldwide, with over 124 prisons exceeding their maximum occupancy rate. Global Prison Trends shows how this increase in numbers is driven by a punitive approach to criminal justice where more costly prison sentences are favoured over non-custodial alternatives.