Prisons are the focus of the second issue of Perspectives. The landmark United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners, adopted in 1955, set out what Member States have agreed are best practices in criminal justice. They stipulate that prisoners have the right to be treated with respect and dignity, to be separated according to their age and the gravity of their offence, to have access to health and medical care, to receive decent food, and much more.
The reality is that prison conditions for the more than 9 million people currently detained worldwide vary considerably from country to country. Sometimes governments are unwilling to try to live up to international prison standards, but more often they do not have the capacity or resources to do so.
States are responsible for ensuring that detainees-like all other citizens-are not denied their fundamental rights. United Nations crime prevention and criminal justice principles provide additional guidance to states. UNODC experts in Vienna and in the field assist governments with criminal justice reform.
In this issue, Carolina Gomma de Azevedo of UNODC in Brazil writes about an innovative programme under which the Brazilian government and NGOs work together in managing prisons and rehabilitating offenders. Raggie Johansen travels to South Africa and visits Pretoria Central Prison, where inmates show their commitment to becoming peer drug counsellors upon their release. She also explores the topic of HIV/AIDS among vulnerable groups, including prison inmates.
In an interview, New York Times photojournalist João Silva tells us in words and pictures about his work as a war photographer and about the chronically overcrowded prison facilities he documented in Malawi.
In this issue, we also look at successful approaches to preventing drug abuse and crime among young people, and bid farewell to former UNODC Deputy Executive Director Sumru Noyan, who reflects on her 12 years with the Office.