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The research conducted has revealed that the problem of prison overcrowding which has
direct links with the increase of population of a Country and increase of crime rate
resulting from its socio-economic factors, will continue to worry the nations of the world
unless some meaningful steps are taken to control it. No country can continue to expand
prison capacity in proportion to the increasing rate of offenders. In this regard it is very
important to create a public awareness that imprisonment is not the only effective penal
sanction for all types of offences. In fact for certain offenders imprisonment will act
contrary to one of the main objectives of imprisonment by making him a worse criminal
when he leaves the prison. It is relevant to note that imprisonment as a punishment for
criminal behaviour is a relatively recent invention that has become widely used through
out the world only in the past one or two centuries. Before that most common forms of
punishments were capital and corporal punishment and banishment. It has been estimated
by certain quarters that there are now approximately six million prisoners in the world. It
is very likely that the number of prisoners will continue to increase. It is hard to imagine
therefore, that the use of imprisonment will continue to increase in the future as the cost
would be overwhelming and there is likely to be increasing questioning of the social
benefit that is gained by locking up more and more people in prisons. In the
circumstances, non-institutional treatment methods are likely to gain serious
consideration of the Criminal Justice policy makers of the world in the next Millennium.

Many existing procedures within the criminal justice system, if streamlined, have the
potential to stop or reverse jail and prison overcrowding without releasing dangerous
offenders into our communities. Procedures and policies from initial contact with the
offender through sentencing and placement of an offender in jail or prison must be
reviewed in an effort to promote efficiency in the criminal justice system


Many of the strategies within the report can be implemented quickly and will provide
immediate relief to jails. Others will take time to implement, and may require additional
Development of a sustainable plan to identify the resources for these longer-term
strategies is critical. Constructing new or expanding existing facilities may become a part
of the solution to overcrowding, but such expansion should only take place after there has
been a thorough evaluation of the entire local criminal justice system, jurisdiction by
In solving the problem of jail and prison overcrowding demands the cooperative
involvement of all stakeholders in the criminal justice system. A particular challenge is
to ensure that there is a coherent strategy to develop alternatives to imprisonment.
Legislators, judicial officers, lawyers, and administrators all have a role to play. They
must work together. There is no point in pressing courts, for example, to use alternatives
to prison sentences if there is no law allowing such alternatives to be imposed and no
administrative structure to implement them. Political leadership is essential; alternatives
to imprisonment cannot be left only to the experts. Non-governmental organizations
can help ensure that these issues are kept on the political agenda. Community
involvement is equally important. There are many ways in which members of the
community can assist in implementing community based alternatives to imprisonment
without putting the rights of offenders at risk. Involving members of the community has
the additional advantage that they experience the benefits of keeping people out of prison
wherever possible and become more supportive of alternatives to imprisonment
All in all Punishment is a tool with which to remove the cancer like growth of crime from
society. When used properly, it forms barriers that are intended to prevent crimes from
ever developing. But if used incorrectly, it can lead to injustices. Once this happens, the
system can become just as bad if not worse than the criminals it attempts to protect
society from. In most cases this does not happen because of safe guards and guidelines
within the system. As it stands today, sentences are developed methodically by a process

Handbook of Basic principles and Promising practices on Alternatives to Imprisonment.


of reviewing individual characteristics of each criminal (ranging from their state of

health, right through to their social environment) and then analysing the level of effect the
crime had on society. By developing an understanding of these factors, it is then possible
to set a fair and just sentence based on the intent, effect and sentences passed in
previous cases. Sometimes though, cases can be misrepresented through blundering
defence councils, outdated laws, and in cases like these justice is not be served.
Developing sentences that a well balanced in terms of severity is not at all a simple task,
but thankfully it is not often that sentences are unjust.
In conclusion, it is felt that weak economies, high unemployment rates, low literacy
percentage, high population growth, unfair application of laws, globalization factor and
exposure of particularly young generations to electronic media has resulted in an increase
in the number of crimes and criminality which has ultimately resulted in an increase in
the number of unconvicted and convicted prisoners. This phenomenon has posed very
serious problems for the criminal justice system and especially the correction
administration. The countries that had never experienced the problem of overcrowding
are also threatened because of this phenomenon. In addition to the actual situation and
causes of overcrowding in each participants country, the causes and countermeasures at
each stage of the criminal justice system, that is, police, prosecution, judiciary and
correction were also discussed in detail. It was felt that to alleviate the problems of
overcrowding in the penal institutions there is a need to have an efficient criminal justice
system to ensure speedy trials, wider use of non- custodial measures and abundant use of
early release measures.

However it was observed that before introducing new

countermeasures it would be appropriate to properly evaluate the same to ensure its

success and effectiveness. It was also felt that governments do not assign appropriate
priority to the prison administration at the time of allocation of funds for creating more
capacity and to improve/update correctional facilities. Last, but not the least it was
realized that the option of imprisonment as a punishment is being used more often than
not in most of the countries, which is one of the major causes of overcrowding. However
it was felt that in spite of the above, it is possible to formulate countermeasures that are


viable, implementable and practicable which can solve the problems of overcrowding

5.0. Recommendation to the Government.
In Reducing the crowding the government must commit to eliminating the crowded
conditions that exist in many of the countrys prisons and jails and work with
corrections administrators to set and meet reasonable limits on the number of prisoners
that facilities can safely house. Crowding and the tremendous increase in the prisoner
population that underlies it, fuels violence. Crowding severely limits or eliminates the
ability of prisoners to be productive, which can leave them feeling hopeless; pushes to
rely on forceful means of control rather than communication, and makes it harder to
classify and assign prisoners safely and identify the dangerously mentally ill. Services
ranging from nutrition to dental and medical care are affected by crowding. Every vital
service is diluted or made operationally impossible.
The other recommendations to the Government is to require the Offices of Fiscal
Analysis and Legislative Research to conduct a prison impact assessment for any
legislation that may modify or impact the rate of prosecution, rate or length of
incarceration, computation of time served, or affect the number of offenders incarcerated,
paroled, or placed on probation.
Another recommendation is that, the government should reinvest sufficient resources in
the community corrections strategy including additional probation and parole officers and
an increase in available treatment, training, and rehabilitation services.
Also the government should require correctional impact statements. The government and
should mandate that an impact statement accompany all proposed legislation that would
change the size, demographics, or other pertinent characteristics of prison and jail


The government should immediately implement evidence-based policies to reduce

overcrowding and hold offenders accountable:

Change parole, specifically waiving post-release supervision for low-risk

offenders with no history of violence

Try offenders who commit new crimes

Shift post-release supervision to communities

Expand programs that reduce recidivism

Expand local capacity including jail space, drug treatment programs, day
reporting centre and other locally based punishment options

Expand the roll of judges

Establish a sentencing commission

Moreover the government is required to consider that prison overcrowding and prison
population growth represent a major challenge to prison administrations and the criminal
justice system as a whole, both in terms of human rights and of the efficient management
of penal institutions.
Furthermore there should be consideration that the efficient management of the prison
population is contingent on such matters as the overall crime situation, priorities in crime
control, the range of penalties available on the law books, the severity of the sentences
imposed, the frequency of use of community sanctions and measures, the use of pre-trial
detention, the effectiveness and efficiency of criminal justice agencies and not least
public attitudes towards crime and punishment.
Not only that but also the government should affirming that measures aimed at combating
prison overcrowding and reducing the size of the prison population need to be embedded
in a coherent and rational crime policy directed towards the prevention of crime and
criminal behaviour, effective law enforcement, public safety and protection, the
individualisation of sanctions and measures and the social reintegration of offenders.


The government should also consider that such measures should conform to the basic
principles of democratic States governed by the rule of law and subject to the paramount
aim of guaranteeing human rights, in conformity with the European Convention on
Human Rights and the case-law of the organs entrusted with its application.
Also in recognising moreover that such measures require support by political and
administrative leaders, judges, prosecutors and the general public, as well as the
provision of balanced information on the functions of punishment, on the relative
effectiveness of custodial and non-custodial sanctions and measures and on the reality of
In establishing systems such as inspection and reporting systems are considered a key to a
success for securing the effectiveness of the legislation regarding prison conditions. In
this connection, Rule 55 of the Standard Minimum Rules for The Treatment of Prisoners
stipulates as follows:
There shall be a regular inspection of penal institutions and services by qualified and experienced
inspectors appointed by a competent authority. Their task shall be, in particular, to ensure that these
institutions are administered in accordance with existing laws and regulations and with a view to bringing
about the objectives of penal and correctional services.

Through the legislature, Provision should be made for an appropriate array of community
sanctions and measures, possibly graded in terms of relative severity; prosecutors and
judges should be prompted to use them as widely as possible.
Furthermore, the Government should provide enough funds facilities to all relevant
organs namely the Judiciary, Attorney Generals Chambers, the Police and Prison, to
promote efficiency and uninterrupted services.

Such facilities include office

accommodation, personnels, motivation, court rooms, motor vehicles, stationery and



5.1. Recommendation to the Judicial System.

First and foremost the judiciary should require the judicial branch to develop a sentence
worksheet as part of the pre-sentence investigation report and to establish sentencing
teams at all criminal court locations to maximize the use of graduated and alternative
In deprivation of liberty should be regarded as a sanction or measure of last resort and
should therefore be provided for only, where the seriousness of the offence would make
any other sanction or measure clearly inadequate.
Another recommendation in on the extension of the prison estate should rather be an
exceptional measure, as it is generally unlikely to offer a lasting solution to the problem
of overcrowding. Countries whose prison capacity may be sufficient in overall terms but
poorly adapted to local needs should try to achieve a more rational distribution of prison

In order to devise a coherent strategy against prison overcrowding and prison population
inflation the judiciary through the detailed analysis of the main contributing factors
should be carried out, addressing in particular such matters as the types of offence which
carry long prison sentences, priorities in crime control, public attitudes and concerns and
existing sentencing practices.
Coping with a shortage of prison places, in order to avoid excessive levels of
overcrowding a maximum capacity for penal institutions should be set.
Another recommendation is on the measures relating to the trial stage. The system of
sanctions/measures, the length of the sentence Efforts should be made to reduce recourse
to sentences involving long imprisonment, which place a heavy burden on the prison
system, and to substitute community sanctions and measures for short custodial


Not only that but also in providing for community sanctions and measures which could
be used instead of deprivation of liberty, consideration should be given to the following:

suspension of the enforcement of a sentence to imprisonment with imposed


probation as an independent sanction imposed without the pronouncement of a

sentence to imprisonment,

high intensity supervision,

community service (i.e. unpaid work on behalf of the community),

treatment orders / contract treatment for specific categories of offenders,

victim-offender mediation / victim compensation,

Restrictions of the liberty of movement by means of, for example, curfew orders
or electronic monitoring.

Community sanctions and measures should only be imposed in conformity with the
guarantees and conditions laid down in the European Rules on Community Sanctions and
Combinations of custodial and non-custodial sanctions and measures should be
introduced into legislation and practice, such as unsuspended custodial sentences,
followed by community service, (intensive) supervision in the community, electronically
monitored house arrest or, in appropriate cases, by an obligation to undergo treatment.
Sentencing and the role of prosecutors and judges
When applying the law prosecutors and judges should endeavour to bear in mind the
resources available, in particular in terms of prison capacity. In this connection, continued
attention should be paid to assessing the impact which existing sentencing structures and
planned sentencing policies have on the evolution of the prison population.
Prosecutors and judges should be involved in the process of devising penal policies in
relation to prison overcrowding and prison population inflation, with a view to engaging
their support and to avoiding counterproductive sentencing practices.

Rationales for sentencing should be set by the legislator or other competent authorities,
with a view to, inter alia, reducing the use of imprisonment, expanding the use of
community sanctions and measures, and to using measures of diversion such as
mediation or the compensation of the victim.
Particular attention should be paid to the role aggravating and mitigating factors as well
as previous convictions play in determining the appropriate quantum of the sentence.
Measures relating to the post-trial stage.

In order to make community sanctions and

measures credible alternatives to short terms of imprisonment, their effective

implementation should be ensured, in particular through:

the provision of the infrastructure for the execution and monitoring of such
community sanctions, not least in order to give judges and prosecutors confidence
in their effectiveness; and

the development and use of reliable risk-prediction and risk-assessment

techniques as well as supervision strategies, with a view to identifying the
offenders risk to relapse and to ensuring public protection and safety.

The development of measures should be promoted which reduce the actual length of the
sentence served, by giving preference to individualised measures, such as early
conditional release (parole), over collective measures for the management of prison
overcrowding (amnesties, collective pardons).
Parole should be regarded as one of the most effective and constructive measures, which
not only reduces the length of imprisonment but also contributes substantially to a
planned return of the offender to the community.
In order to promote and expand the use of parole, best conditions for offender support,
assistance and supervision in the community have to be created, not least with a view to


prompting the competent judicial or administrative authorities to consider this measure as

a valuable and responsible option.
Effective programmes for treatment during detention and for supervision and treatment
after release should be devised and implemented so as to facilitate the resettlement of
offenders, to reduce recidivism, to provide public safety and protection and to give judges
and prosecutors the confidence that measures aimed at reducing the actual length of the
sentence to be served and community sanctions and measures are constructive and
responsible options.
Appropriate measures should be taken with a view to fully implementing the principles
concerning the simplification of criminal justice; this would involve in particular that
member states, while taking into account their own constitutional principles or legal
tradition, resort to the principle of discretionary prosecution (or measures having the
same purpose) and make use of simplified procedures and out-of-court settlements as
alternatives to prosecution in suitable cases, in order to avoid full criminal proceedings.
The application of pre-trial detention and its length should be reduced to the minimum
compatible with the interests of justice. To this effect, member states should ensure that
their law and practice are in conformity with the relevant provisions of the European
Convention on Human Rights and the case-law of its control organs, concerning custody
pending trial, in particular as regards the grounds on which pre-trial detention can be

In order to assist the efficient and humane use of pre-trial detention, adequate financial
and human resources should be made available and appropriate procedural means and
managerial techniques be developed, as necessary
It is also recommended that the Judiciary Administration should supply copies of
judgement within a maximum period of three (3) months and take disciplinary action
against any Court Official who without good cause or deliberately frustrates quick supply
of copies of judgements to appellants. Also, as regards the way the administration of


Criminal justice is constitutionally arranged, it is recommended that plans for expansion,

development and improvement in one organ related to dispensation of Criminal justice
should involve the other organs must be co-ordinated in the implementation and supply
of financial Material support and motivate.
Overcrowding of convicted prisoners could be reduced to a great extent by Courts
resorting to alternatives to imprisonment including non-institutional treatment.
Resolution 16 of the 7th United Nations Conference on the Prevention of Crime and
Treatment of Offenders advocates the use of non-custodial sanctions and emphasises that
imprisonment should be imposed only as a sanction of last resort. Some countries such as
New Zealand, Australia, and Hong Kong have developed over the years a wide range of
alternatives to imprisonment. Some of the common alternatives found in many countries
are binding over, fine and suspended sentences. However, some countries have a wide
range of alternatives such as forfeiture and confiscation, restitution and compensation
orders, home detention and periodic detention, electronic monitoring and sentencing to
drug rehabilitation centres.
5.2. Recommendations to the prison authority
Reduce crowding. States and localities must commit to eliminating the crowded
conditions that exist in many of the countrys prisons and jails and work with corrections
administrators to set and meet reasonable limits on the number of prisoners that facilities
can safely house.
Promote productivity and rehabilitation. Invest in programs that are proven to reduce
violence and to change behaviour over the long term.
Use objective classification and direct supervision. Incorporate violence prevention in
every facilitys fundamental classification and supervision procedures.


Use force and non-lethal weaponry only as a last resort. Dramatically reduce the use
of non-lethal weapons, restraints, and physical force by using non- forceful responses
whenever possible, restricting the use of weaponry to qualified staff, and eliminating
the use of restraints except when necessary to prevent serious injury to self or others.
Employ surveillance technology. Make good use of recording surveillance cameras to
monitor the correctional environment.
Support community and family bonds. Re-examine where prisons are located and
where prisoners are assigned, encourage visitation, and implement phone call reform.
Promote a culture of mutual respect. Create a positive culture in jails and prisons
grounded in an ethic of respectful behaviour and interpersonal communication that
benefits prisoners and staff.
Support todays leaders and cultivates the next generation. Governors and local
executives must hire the most qualified leaders and support them politically and
professionally, and corrections administrators must, in turn, use their positions to promote
healthy and safe prisons and jails. Equally important, we must develop the skills and
capacities of middle level managers, who play a large role in running safe facilities and
are poised to become the next generation of senior leaders.
Demand independent oversight. Every state should create an independent agency to
monitor prisons and jails.
Build national non-governmental oversight. Create a national non-governmental
organization capable of inspecting prisons and jails at the invitation of corrections
Develop meaningful internal complaint systems. Corrections managers should strengthen
the systems that allow them to listen to those who live and work in prisons and jails.


Encourage visits to facilities. Create opportunities for individual citizens and organized
groups, including judges and lawmakers, to visit facilities.
Strive for transparency. Ensure media access to facilities, to prisoners, and to correctional
Fund a national effort to learn how prisons and Jails can make a larger contribution to
public safety. The government should invest in developing knowledge about the link
between safe, well-run correctional facilities and public safety.
Where conditions of overcrowding occur, special emphasis should be placed on the
precepts of human dignity, the commitment of prison administrations to apply humane
and positive treatment, the full recognition of staff roles and effective modern
management approaches. In conformity with the European Prison Rules, particular
attention should be paid to the amount of space available to prisoners, to hygiene and
sanitation, to the provision of sufficient and suitably prepared and presented food, to
prisoners health care and to the opportunity for outdoor exercise.
In order to counteract some of the negative consequences of prison overcrowding,
contacts of inmates with their families should be facilitated to the extent possible and
maximum use of support from the community should be made.
Specific modalities for the enforcement of custodial sentences, such as semi-liberty, open
regimes, prison leave or extra-mural placements, should be used as much as possible with
a view to contributing to the treatment and resettlement of prisoners, to maintaining their
family and other community ties and to reducing the tension in penal institutions