The Institute for Criminal Policy Research (ICPR), based at the School of Law, Birkbeck, has published a report highlighting the mental and physical health impacts of prison overcrowding.
The report, Towards a health-informed approach to penal reform? Evidence from ten countries, examines the effects of failed penal policies through the lens of health.
Drawing on ICPR’s World Prison Brief database, the report reveals that well over 60% of countries worldwide are currently running their prison systems above official capacity – causing untold harm to the health of inmates, staff, families and communities. There are first-hand accounts of the health impacts of incarceration, from people who have endured cramped, unsafe, disease-ridden prisons in Kenya, South Africa, Brazil, Thailand and England.
The report, by Catherine Heard, Director of ICPR’s World Prison Research Programme, draws on many of the topics discussed an international conference held at Birkbeck last November. The event, Mapping inequalities in prisoner healthcare worldwide, was made possible through a grant from the Wellcome Trust/Birkbeck Institutional Strategic Support Fund. The conference and this report form part of a wider project underway at ICPR examining the use of imprisonment in ten countries, all of which have experienced the adverse effects of over-incarceration in recent years.