Understanding and reducing the use of imprisonment in ten countries


This international research and policy project examines the use of imprisonment in ten contrasting jurisdictions across all five continents. It aims to advance understanding of the factors that drive high levels of imprisonment and help develop the capacity of civil society and governmental organisations to surmount barriers to reform. To achieve these aims, we work closely with local and international NGOs and other stakeholders to highlight the economic and social harms of excessive use of imprisonment and to devise and disseminate workable strategies for reducing the resort to custody.

The ICPR project team includes Helen Fair, Catherine Heard and Jessica Jacobson. The project has benefited from financial support from the Open Society Foundations and from pro bono support from Clifford Chance and other legal practitioners across the ten countries.

The project’s first publication was the March 2017 report, Prison: Evidence of its use and over-use from around the world. This was followed by two further reports in 2019: Towards a health-informed approach to penal reform? Evidence from ten countries and Pre-trial detention and its over-use: Evidence from ten countriesIn January 2021 the report Sentencing burglary, drug importation and murder: Evidence from ten countries was published. 

The project was launched in early 2017 and is expected to conclude in April 2021.


Open Society Foundations

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