Analysis Report

Global prison trends 2018

Detention conditions are degrading, the number of prisoners is increasing while the overall level of crime is declining in a majority of societies. The main findings of PRI’s annual report do sound familiar.

—Published on the 2nd of June 2018

Penal Reform International and the Thailand Institute of Justice co-published their 2018 annual report aiming to provide a global account on the state of prisons and the use of imprisonment throughout the world.
The first acknowledgment is, unsurprisingly, that detention conditions are degrading, that the number of prisoners is increasing despite a decreasing level of crime in the majority of societies.

“Where is the proportionality in sentencing when we punish non-violent offences with lengthy prison sentences? Is this the only response we can offer?”

Foreword to the report, written by Rt Hon Helen Clark, member of the Global Commission on Drug Policy, former Prime Minister of New Zealand, and former administrator of the United Nations Development Programme

The previous annual report stated that there were about 10.35 million prisoners worldwide. The actual figure may be around 11 million, given that data is missing for various countries such as Eritrea, Somalia and North Korea. Moreover, people detained in police departments are not included in the data.

Harsh criminal policies targeting drug use are a major contributor to prison overcrowding.


Global prison trends 2018

A global view on the state of prisons worldwide