The criminalization of poverty and status: its implications for prison systems and penal reform in Africa, the Caribbean, South Asia and the Pacific


This project provides research data and advocacy support for current and future campaigns to decriminalize poverty, status and identity in countries across Africa, the Caribbean, South Asia and the Pacific.

Imprisonment remains available for a range of conduct under colonial-era laws and other outmoded or non-specific provisions such as those relating to vagrancy and other petty offences. Such laws and their enforcement disproportionately impact poorer or marginalized individuals and groups in many countries. The project highlights the harms resulting from the use or availability of imprisonment in connection with these laws.

Our work in this project is geared towards supporting global efforts to improve public access to accurate and timely prison populations data; and to advocate for the abolition of petty offences targeting poverty and the removal of custody as an available sanction in such cases.


Open Society Policy Institute

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