As part of the Humanity Hub’s first seasonal programming theme, focusing on COVID responses, we will share insights by members of the Humanity Hub community and the Hague Peace & Justice ecosystem. This week, we are spotlighting Penal Reform International’s seventh edition of their flagship report ‘Global Prison Trends 2021’.


Over a year on from the declaration of the COVID-19 pandemic, this seventh edition of Global Prison Trends is published jointly by Penal Reform International (PRI) and the Thailand Institute of Justice (TIJ).

This report documents key trends over the past year, especially the impact of the pandemic on prison populations and staff, and how prisons worldwide have responded to these challenges. The dangers posed by COVID-19 to people detained and staff working in cramped, overcrowded conditions in prison were acknowledged in the earliest stages of the pandemic.

High-level United Nations (UN) and government figures made statements highlighting the risk to life and health in prisons and, as Global Prison Trends 2021 describes, most countries implemented some form of emergency releases to reduce the prison population. As countries continue to navigate new waves of the pandemic, prisons remain hotbeds for virus transmission. Also, new offences for breaching COVID-19 regulations and the resumption of court processes have led to increases in prison numbers.