Democratic Security Sector Governance

The management of penitentiary systems is a considerable task not only at the level of human and financial resources but also in terms of standards. The detrimental impact of imprisonment, not only on the individuals, but also on families, communities, and the economic factors needs to be taken into account when considering penitentiary management issues. These can include, but are not limited to:

  • Human rights considerations

While involving the deprivation of the basic right to liberty, the human rights of prisoners need to be observed whilst their prospects for social reintegration need to be increased during their incarceration in compliance with relevant international standards and norms.

  • Imprisonment and poverty

Imprisonment disproportionately affects individuals and families living from low income backgrounds. When released, often with no prospects for employment, former prisoners me be vulnerable to socio-economic exclusion, perpetuating the cycle of poverty, marginalisation, criminality and imprisonment.

  • Public health issues

Living standards prior to imprisonment, in addition to the close proximity of prisoners, poor nutrition, overcrowding and poor sanitation can lead to the rapid spread of diseases and the spread of those diseases to the wider population.

The benchmarks for action in prison reform: the United Nations Standards and Norms

As the guardian of international standards and norms in crime prevention and criminal justice, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) is mandated to support Member States in putting into practice these standards and norms by assisting States in building fair and effective criminal justice systems. Over the years a considerable body of United Nations standards and norms related to crime prevention and criminal justice has emerged.


UN Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners

Basic Principles for the Treatment of Prisoners

Principles for the Protection of All Persons under Any Form of Detention or Imprisonment

United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for Non-custodial Measures (the Tokyo Rules)

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