Expert insights

On this page, we present insights on some of the main implications of our ten-country research, all commissioned from leading experts in these jurisdictions. These short, accessible pieces alert us to worrying developments, engage with thorny policy dilemmas, and shine a path to lasting change. 

Throughout June 2021, over 20 specially commissioned pieces of content will be released, all dealing with specific aspects of over-incarceration. 

Expert insights

United States: addressing the structural inequalities underlying a failing prison health system

24 Jun 2021
Homer Venters

Homer Venters is a physician and epidemiologist working at the intersection of incarceration, health and human rights. Dr. Venters has recently been appointed to serve on the Biden-Harris COVID-19 Health Equity Task Force. Since April 2020, Dr. Venters has focused on addressing COVID-19 responses in jails, prisons and immigration detention facilities. Dr. Venters is the former Chief Medical Officer of the NYC Correctional Health Services and author of Life and Death in Rikers Island. Dr. Venters has also worked in the nonprofit sector as the Director of Programs of Physicians for Human Rights and President of Community Oriented Correctional Health Service. Dr. Venters is a Clinical Associate Professor of the New York University College of Global Public Health.

Family links and independent monitoring systems in Brazil’s prisons – what are the effects of the pandemic? (Short film)

23 Jun 2021

Realities on the ground are discussed by Rafael Godoi, a sociologist and researcher at Rio’s Universidade Federal (UFRJ), and Alessandra Félix, an activist from Brazil’s north-eastern state of Ceará, member of the group Vozes (‘Voices of mothers and relatives’) and of Brazil’s Frente pelo Desencarceramento (decarceration front).

Brazil: the vital work of the Public Defenders’ Office in a public health crisis

23 Jun 2021
Patrick Cacicedo

Patrick Cacicedo is a Public Defender based in São Paulo. Patrick holds a PhD from the University of São Paulo (USP), and is a researcher in prison matters. Here, Patrick reflects on the work of the Public Defender's Office and the alarming situation of Brazilian prisons during the current health crisis. 

Brazil: an obstacle course for prisoners' families in the pandemic

23 Jun 2021
Maria Teresa dos Santos

Maria Teresa dos Santos is the chair of the Associação de Amigos e Familiares de Pessoas em Privação de Liberdade (Association of friends and family members of people deprived of liberty) in the state of Minas Gerais. Two of her sons have experienced detention. One of them was transferred to house arrest due to Covid-19 (under Recommendation 62 of the National Council of Justice). Maria Teresa also advocates for the Frente Estadual pelo Desencarceramento (State Front for decarceration) in Minas Gerais.

Africa: informal governance and healthcare access in prison

22 Jun 2021
Carole Berrih

Carole Berrih, a lawyer specialising in public law, is the director of Synergies Coopération. She studies and evaluates international programmes and projects. She has been active in the prison sector for 20 years and is currently carrying out doctoral research at the Université Grenoble Alpes. Her research focuses on the role of prisoners in the maintenance of order in Nigerian prisons. Here, Carole discusses the impact of informal governance on prisoners’ access to healthcare.

The right to health must not be 'forgotten behind bars'

21 Jun 2021
Tamara Leger

Tamara Léger has worked as a researcher and adviser in human rights research, campaigns and advocacy for Amnesty International in Madagascar. Her work at Amnesty focused on criminal justice issues and the protection of natural resources.  Here, Tamara draws on her previous research experience to highlight the severe impact of prison overcrowding on health and access to healthcare. She warns of major public health risks if prisoners are denied adequate care, particularly in a pandemic.

Australia: Ageing Prisoners – why we need alternative systems and pathways

21 Jun 2021
Natasha Ginnivan

Dr. Natasha Ginnivan is a research fellow at the University of New South Wales school of psychology and an associate investigator with the UNSW Ageing Futures Institute and the UNSW Australian Human Rights Institute. Her research focuses on attitudes to ageing, age stereotypes and self-perceptions of ageing. Natasha researches the lived experience of ageing and dementia, and ageing in marginalised populations including prisoners. In this piece Natasha explores how systems of care for older prisoners could benefit from smarter leveraging of community health and technology infrastructures. She argues that alternative justice-security-care protocols could allow states to comply with their duty to provide ‘equivalence of care’ to older prisoners, without compromising the purposes of sentencing. Natasha’s research on older prisoners has been supported in part by the ARC Centre of Excellence in Population Ageing Research.