Creating a knowledge base
This recognises the need to provide a set of internationally accessible reference points for practical prison reform. All too frequently until now those who wish to implement such reform have had to begin with a blank sheet of paper, feeling their way by a process of trial and error. As a means of helping them, ICPS has set out to develop what is sometimes called the knowledge base for the whole subject of imprisonment, good prison practice and alternatives to prison. Starting from the international covenants and standards which have been agreed by governments, a body of reference texts and examples of good practice is being put together and published in a form which can be easily used.
Applying the knowledge base
Once the knowledge base has been created it needs to be capable of application in real life situations. The Centre assists this process by undertaking a series of practical prison reform projects in a variety of countries and regions. These projects are all carried out within the context of the international standards relating to imprisonment. ICPS becomes involved in them in a variety of ways. Sometimes there is a direct approach from official sources within the country or region concerned. Sometimes, as in the case of the project with the World Health Organisation to promote better prison and public health, they are centred on themes which have been identified as requiring particular attention. Other projects, such as those in individual countries, have a more specific focus.