In many countries in the region, resources allocated to the administration and management of prisons are insufficient even to meet basic needs. This translates into prison overcrowding, long pre-trial detention, unduly harsh prison conditions, and lack of effective rehabilitation programmes. Alternatives to imprisonment are generally less costly than custodial arrangements for prisoners and are also more effective in addressing specific problems that may have contributed to the criminal behaviour in the first place. 

Moreover, due to corruption, prisons also become recruitment grounds in organized crime and terrorism. As such, implementing proper prison management and alternatives to imprisonment in line with respect for international human rights standards can effectively contribute to preventing crime and enrolment in illicit transnational activities.

UNODC has developed a wide range of tools to support Member States who wish to reform prison systems, including undertaking legislative and regulatory reform, improving prison management practices and capacities, protecting vulnerable groups, and promoting human rights.

UNODC works with Member States and their relevant institutions to:

  • Strengthen legislative, regulatory and policy frameworks;
  • Protect vulnerable groups and promote human rights;
  • Establish standards for prison staff training and skill development;
  • Address social reintegration needs of prisoners and find alternatives to imprisonment.

Additional information:

Basic Principles for the Treatment of Prisoners

The United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners