Prisons Comparisons in multiple Countries

Prisons Comparisons in multiple Countries


CRJ613: Comparative Criminal Justice Systems (SCH1740A)

Professor Tonia Pace


This paper will discuss and explain the prison systems of South Africa, Brazil and India, while respectively comparing their similarities and differences between them. Across the world there are many different prison systems that all serve different purposes due to the way they are operated. There are different influences they have due to the culture of those countries and how they are accustom to doing things. The countries that will be discussed and compared are South Africa, Brazil, and India.

Prison systems are different internationally as we all know. There are accusations that state that: one country imprisons its citizens more than the others do” (Reichel, 2013). Some statistics are not reliable in countries such as Islamic ones. In South Africa as a while their prison populations have dropped overall. South Africa has more than 160,000 people in their facilities, the capacities of their prison is 118,000 which puts their overpopulation at 137 percent. Over population is a huge issue in South Africa with most of the prisons there being for males, while some are coed. There are also thirteen facilities for youths. The prisons in South Africa has a reputation for being bad, overcrowded, understaffed and engaged in abusing the rights of humans. Reichel 2013 gave an example of how there prisons are so overcrowded that it results in multiple prisoners inside one cell. She went on to mention how there are laws that will prevent such treatment from having too many animals locked away in the same manner. The Prisoners in South Africa are treated worse than animals. South Africa came up with a minimum sentencing legislation in 1988 that will help to reduce the overcrowding.

Due to their prisons being overcrowded, understaffed, and filled with human rights abuses it affects the way the inmates have to live in these prisons. They have to sleep in shifts; they are threatened by rape which causes HIV which succumbs to gang control. When prisoners are delayed from leaving the facilities it helps to make the prison ever more crowded. In addition, there are four other factors that will also help with these prisons being overcrowded such as; Unnecessary Arrest, Unaffordable Bail, Restrictive Bail Conditions, and Court Delays. Overcrowded prisons are an issue in jurisdictions in the United States and these factors along with similar ones will help overcrowd those prisons.

Inhumane, corrupt, and degrading are the descriptions you will hear about the prisons in Brazil, their prisons are severely overcrowded and their detentions conditions are unbearable. Their horrific conditions range from rats and diseased pigeons to the torture and control of the gangs there. This country is known for the world’s largest penal systems and the law of the penal systems all prison facilities are to manage basically respecting the rights of the prisoner. But those laws are ignored and not carried out. There is no infrastructure in this system to help it properly run. For example Reichel 2013, gives a detailed outline in the text of what happens once a criminal is arrested, and explains the process after that and how the offender should be transferred throughout the system. Twenty-five percent of their population is found at the initial arrest, meaning they were not yet even sentenced and are just sitting around waiting for a hearing and sentence. The population of Brazil’s inmates are young, poor, ad uneducated not even having first grade education, between the ages of twenty and thirty. A third of them are serving a five to twelve year sentence and are sentenced for committing robbery or drug trafficking. Brazil and South Africa have the same explanations for the reason of their prisons being so overcrowded. When using tough measures on those who commit crimes, it will result in more people receiving worse punishments (longer sentences). These tactics are put into place to reduce the crime rates but were not put into perspective about how it will affect the populations of the prisons. they did not think about how they probably did not already have enough space to even take in a triple load of criminals. They also did not think of a way to release the inmates that should not be there. Improving their prisons has been a failure and likein South Africa the human rights watch does encourages change in areas but to the ones that are in relation to prison overcrowding.

Different from the United States but identical with Brazil, India houses criminals who are awaiting pretrial in the same prisons as those who are already convicted. There are three categories of how prisoners are housed in their jails. Thirty three of the prisoner’s population consists of criminals convicted and serving a sentence, most of them being charged with murder. Sixty –six percent is the under trial category and the remaining category consist of mentally ill persons, detunes, and elusive. “Neither a convict nor an under trial but rather a person who has been placed in preventive custody in the interest of preserving public order. India has a low imprisonment rate; their total population is more than one billion, less than three hundred thousand inmates. They experience the same problem as South Africa and Brazil. They are in bad conditions; don’t have basic amenities and some inmate have to sleep while standing up. There are many bad conditions in that jails that causes health hazards. The proposed solutions are to reduce under trial populations, use greater community sanctions, and a bigger number of minimum and medium security prisons.

The comparisons of these countries are more similar than different. The United States itself as a country to is suffering from these overcrowded conditions. There may not be as bad of housing conditions as these conditions but they do have similar conditions. These prison systems are not at all in the best interest of the inmates health and other conditions.


Reichel, P. L. (2013). Comparative criminal justice systems: A topical approach (6th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education, Inc.

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