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Prison Reforms in Resource Poor Settings - South Asia Experience. Dr. Jayadev Sarangi, Prison Expert UNODC Regional office for South Asia. ICPA Conference Prague, 28 October 2008. Realities on the ground. Over-crowding Majority are remand prisoners High prisoner turnover

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prison reforms in resource poor settings south asia experience

Prison Reforms in Resource Poor Settings- South Asia Experience

Dr. Jayadev Sarangi, Prison Expert


Regional office for South Asia

ICPA Conference

Prague, 28 October 2008

realities on the ground
Realities on the ground
  • Over-crowding
  • Majority are remand prisoners
  • High prisoner turnover
  • Low civil society participation in prison reforms
  • ‘We’ and ‘Them’ Divide
  • Protection mechanisms for the weak and vulnerable inadequate
  • Constraints - human and financial resources
  • Low awareness - drugs and HIV
    • Denial – “no sex, no drug, no violence”
    • Sexual risk behaviour – MSM, coercion
    • Large number of married inmates
  • Post release follow up of prisoners is very negligible
prison reforms key elements
Prison reforms:key elements
  • Application of Standard Minimum Rules for Treatment of Prisoners-

A Human Rights perspective

  • Advocate for and create awareness to ensure that adjustment of laws and policies should be in conformity with international standards and norms on diversions, restorative justice and non-custodial sanctions
    • Reduce prison overcrowding
    • Expedite disposal of cases
    • Alternate sentencing
prison reforms key elements4
Prison reforms:key elements
  • Capacity of Member States to apply international standards on the professional management/operation of prisons
  • Increased application by Member States of strategies to improve overall healthcare of prisoners including the reduction of the spread of drugs/HIV in Prisons of South Asia
  • Sensitization and capacity building of law enforcement officials

Prevention of drugs and HIV in prisons of South Asia (Project RAS/H71)

Prison Intervention sites

Disclaimer: The boundaries do not reflect the official position of UNODC

our response
Our Response
  • Advocacy
  • Sensitization and training at 3 levels
      • Policy makers, senior Government and civil society partners
      • Middle level Government and civil society partners
      • Field level prison officials and prison inmates
      • Select prison inmates as ‘peers’ to deliver key messages and training to their peers
  • Roll out of interventions (including gender sensitive programming)
the approach
The approach
  • Creating avenues for safer practices - build trust
  • Incremental steps
  • Use of existing provisions within the laws,

regulations and the socio-cultural milieu

  • Inclusive approach - drug using and non drug using populations (men and women prisoners)
  • Pave way for launching prison reform initiatives in resource poor settings

Bangladesh - 4

Sri Lanka - 8

Maldives - 3

Nepal - 4

India - 9

418 National Trainers

5,400 prison inmates trained

27,000 prison inmate beneficiaries

28 Master Trainers


Major achievements

  • More opportunities for scaling up

(e.g., Bhutan, Maldives, Sri Lanka, India, Nepal, Bangladesh)

  • Capacity of Governments and civil society partners strengthened
  • A critical mass of human resources trained and active
  • Demand for newer elements of prison reforms created

Hand Holding for launching newer prison reforms initiatives


networking &

peer led intervention- involving

Prison staff, inmates, NGOs

Breaking the “Us”

and “Them” Divide

Building partnerships-

prison officials, civil society,


Training &






This is just the beginning…

please visit us at:

the gender dimension
The gender dimension

HIV/AIDS Interventions for Female Injecting Drug Users (FIDU) and Female prisoners in Nepal, Afghanistan and Pakistan

  • Assessment of risk behaviours of female injecting drug users in prisons
  • To increase access to medical/ health services for female injecting drug users
  • To reduce unsafe injecting through peer involvement
  • To create a de-stigmatising and enabling environment for women

Comprehensive Packages *

  • Needle and Syringe Programmes (NSP)
  • Opioid Substitution Therapy (OST)
  • Voluntary HIV Counselling and Testing (VCT)
  • Anti-Retroviral Therapy (ART)
  • Sexually Transmitted Infections (STI) prevention
  • Condom programming for IDUs and partners
  • Targeted Information, Education and Communication (IEC) for IDUs and their sexual partners
  • Hepatitis diagnosis, treatment (Hepatitis A, B and C) and vaccination (Hepatitis A and B)
  • Tuberculosis (TB) prevention, diagnosis and treatment.


monitoring mechanism

Chief Peer Patron (Superintendent)

Deputy Chief Peer Patron (Deputy Superintendent / Chief Jailor)

Peer Monitoring


Coordinator Peer Patron (A. S. / Jailor)

Welfare Officer

Peer Patron (Head warder / Overseer)

Peer Volunteer

Peer Assembly








Peer Training

Peer Group –A

Monitoring Mechanism
resource poor settings
Resource poor settings
  • Decongest prisons
    • Decriminalise petty offences
    • More alternate sentencing measures
    • Community sentencing
    • Change of laws
  • Use of existing human resource for multi tasking
  • Use of prisoner resources for prisoner welfare measures
  • Cost effective interventions
  • Effective civil society partnership

Addressing gender concerns

  • Stereotyped gender relationships – Unequal power balance in relationships.
  • Marginalization by society – Strong feelings of powerlessness, low self esteem and self confidence.
  • Lack of family support, social networks & financial services.
  • Lack of gender sensitive services, including lack of trained female service providers with appropriate skills.
  • Lack of Information and access to health services, including HIV/AIDS prevention & care programmes.
  • Special needs of women prisoners with children
  • Stigma & discrimination.