When it comes to serving time in prison, one’s experience will vary greatly depending on where they are incarcerated. For example, prisons in U.S., Canada, or Europe are generally better than prisons in Russia, China, or South America. About 50% of all prisoners worldwide are being held in the U.S., China, and Russia.
- A 2013 audit reported women prisoners were forced to work 14 hours a day.
- Russian prisons can be administered by either government authorities or inmates.
- Active tuberculosis infects 10% of all prisoners, causing half of prisoner deaths. Approximately 40% of new cases are resistant to multiple drugs. Lack of isolation space encourages the spread of TB and other infectious diseases.
- Lack of ventilation is a serious problem since windows are often covered by heavy shutters, keeping out fresh air and light.
- Overcrowding, prison medical neglect and food shortages are common.
- Critics and former prisoners report prisoners are subjected to prison inmate abuse, very poorly fed and used as slave labor.
- Chinese laws regarding prisoner treatment may not be implemented. Laws stipulate prisoners should have 8 hours of sleep, 2 hours for study and recreation time. However, prisons may ignore this to meet work quotas.
- The much-criticized labor camps were reportedly abolished in 2013.
- Detention centers hold people pending trial for serious offenses, possibly for several years. Food is bad, prisoners sleep on concrete floors and can be tortured to obtain confessions.
- After being convicted, people are sent to prison. Conditions are somewhat better than in labor camps or detention centers although prisoners may still be used as slave labor.
The U.S., Canada, and Europe
- Prisoners are protected by constitutional laws and guidelines in the U.S., Canada and the EU.
- Torture and inhumane treatment are prohibited.
- Many U.S. and some European prisons are severely overcrowded, with the U.S. having the world’s highest incarceration rate and a reconviction rate of up to 76% in 5 years.
- Fewer than 30% of prisoners in Denmark and Norway return to prison because of an emphasis on job training, living conditions resembling cheap hotel rooms and frequent family visits.
- Food is adequate and medical treatment is available.
As bad as Chinese and Russian prisons may sound, prisons in Africa, many Middle Eastern countries, and South America can be as bad as or worse. Inhumane treatment and harsh punishments are common.
These statistics considered, it can be argued that one of the key points of a civilized society is a low-capacity prisons designed to rehabilitate rather than punish. Making strides to meet this standard, however, will be a long haul.
Shae Holland is a professional copywriter and loves philosophical discussions. Visit her site here.