Introduction and Overview: A Little Background about the Initiative

It is estimated that there are currently over 10.2 million individuals incarcerated in prisons around the world today, and if the reports on the number of offenders in pre-trial or administrative detention in China and North Korea are accurate, the world prison population total is actually over 11 million. Despite increasing documentation of the utilization of prison-based sanctions around the world, we also need to know how alternatives to incarceration have been utilized globally. This knowledge gap begs numerous questions: How many offenders are placed in community corrections systems around the globe? What are the key design features of these community corrections systems? And what do we know about the effectiveness of community corrections? The Global Community Corrections Initiative will provide answers to these questions.

The Problem:

We know a lot about prison systems globally in large part due to the efforts of researchers at the Institute for Criminal Policy Research (ICPR). Detailed profiles of prison systems in each global region are provided by the ICPR, including:

  • Free Online prison data base: http://www.prisonstudies.org/world-prison-brief-data
  • World Prison Population list: http://prisonstudies.org/sites/default/files/resources/downloads/world_prison_population_list_11th_edition_0.pdf
  • A number of prison-focused reports and reviews are also available: http://icpr.org.uk/
  • This collaborative and sustained mission to document the nature of prison use across the globe is critical to policy and public safety. However, we know much less about the design, implementation, and impact of community corrections systems globally. Just as corrections systems vary in the use of incarceration, the use of community corrections also varies in ways that are critical to document and analyze. Currently, there is no “one-stop shopping” resource that provides information on a global scale about community corrections systems.

    The Solution:

    To address this information shortfall, data on total prison population levels, rates, and trends will be combined with data on community corrections populations, rates, and trends to provide a more complete picture of overall global corrections populations.

    We plan to identify key community corrections experts in each country and global region, and with their help, we will begin to build a country level data base profiling community corrections systems, staffing, and performance.

    Here we outline the proposed necessary steps to build this solution:

    • Step 1: Creation of Global Community Corrections Website (now in its development stages)
    • Step 2: Identification of key Contacts/Resource Experts in countries with 50 largest prison systems; initial focus on the top 20 countries
    • Step 3: Collection of all available community corrections data from each country
    • Step 4: Collection of all available research studies on the effectiveness of community sanctions, focusing initially on selected/targeted top twenty countries
    • Step 5: Creation of first World Community Corrections Brief.

    We are currently identifying country-level experts who can assist us in identifying and/ or developing profiles of the community corrections systems in these countries. Our profiles will allow us to compare countries across the following three dimensions:

    1. Pre-trial alternatives
    2. Sentencing alternatives
    3. Reentry alternatives

    Four Products of the proposed global community corrections initiative:

    (1) Creation of first World Community Corrections Brief

    Our annual data brief will include a review of the following:

    • Types of community-based alternatives to incarceration available in each country: pretrial alternatives, sentencing alternatives (monetary sanctions, probationary sanctions, intermediate sanctions, split sentencing), and reentry alternatives (public and private sector).
    • Pre-trial population and program profile: offenders, programs, etc.
    • Probation population and program profile: offenders, staffing levels/qualifications, conditions, resource levels, etc.
    • Parole/Reentry population profile: offenders, staffing levels/qualifications, conditions, resource levels, etc.
    • Other sanctions offender profile: fines, community service, forced labor, electronic monitoring, mandatory residential treatment
    • Performance measures: any available metrics on system efficiency and effectiveness
    (2) Global Evidence-based Corrections and Sentencing Network Development

    through our state of art website – we will become a global clearinghouse for high quality data on the utilization of alternatives to incarceration and community corrections, and a primary source of information on global corrections/sentencing performance, and innovative corrections and sentencing policies and practices.

    (3) Knowledge Exchange Seminars and Systematic, Evidence-based Policy Reviews

    to translate research into practice, we will develop a series of executive session seminars and workshops highlighting corrections and sentencing issues in each global region.

    (4) High Quality Corrections and Sentencing Research Agenda

    we will also develop research projects focusing on evaluating—and comparing-- the impact of current community corrections and sentencing strategies internationally.