Important news on the Prison Reform Front from Colorado this week.The International Corrections and Prisons Association conference met in Colorado Springs last week at their 15th annual conference. The Conference theme this year was “Thinking Outside the Cell: Reducing the Use of Imprisonment”. The fact that the International organization representing the prison leadership of 72 nations would focus their annaul conference on “Reducing the Use of Imprisonment” is an important harbinger of things to come.
Prison directors from 72 countries from Namibia to the Netherlands attended the week-long conference in large part to look at ideas for reducing a world prison population of more than 10 million inmates
More than 500 delegates filled the conference halls of the Antlers Hilton in downtown for the weeklong summit. Chief among a the workshop subjects and discussion sessions was the issue of mental health in corrections. More than 100 delegates lead sessions through Friday, touching on diverse subjects, such as “In the Mind of a Gang Leader,” and “The Use of Segregation.”
Tineke De Waele of Belgium, the executive director of ICPA, said conference workshops are focused on alternatives to prison and ideas for moving inmates safely into the community.While prisons are crucial for keeping citizens safe, they are costly and often serve as learning centers for other types of crime, she said.“It is important that all countries look for alternatives to incarceration,” De Waele said.
“Every nation and jurisdiction delivers justice differently, but the ICPA gives all of us the opportunity to network, build partnerships and learn from each other,” said Canada Correctional Service Commissioner Don Head.” Ruben Fernandez Lima, director general of prevention and social rehabilitation for the state of Mexico said.”I do believe that at this point in the world, prisons are at a breaking point,”
It seems that the theme of reducing and reforming prisons has achieved a level international importance in many (if not most nations). It means that momentum for prison reform is growing. It also means that we need to take advantage of this shift in the wind, and push for reform now, before old mindsets reassert themselves..