International Corrections Update

Just as younger siblings can learn from the mistakes of the older, so too are other nations seeing America’s mistakes and seeking to pre-empt problems. With less than one third the population of China, we imprison more than anyone in the world. American has finally woken up to its corrections crisis, now that the national prison population has topped 1.6 million, which is one in every 100 American adults. Responses put in motion include revamping rehabilitation processes, reforming sentencing procedures, and privatizing prison facilities to reduce costs. As Reason reported in its recently published Annual Privatization Report 2008, foreign nations are watching this and aren’t waiting for the same problems to overtake them: Citing the success of Brazil’s Humaita Prison, a South Korean firm has begun construction on the nation’s first private prison. The prison, located in Yeoju, Gyeonggi Province, is scheduled to open in 2010 with a capacity to hold 500 inmates. The government granted permission for the prison to open in 2002, but it has taken several years to get the approval of the Yeoju community. The prison will provide a wide-range of programs to rehabilitate inmates and help their transition back into communities. Peru has announced plans to build several new prisons as it seeks to solve its inmate overpopulation crisis. Two will be built and managed by private firms in the nation’s first foray into privatizing corrections facilities. South Africa has also developed its first public-private partnership prison program and has accepted several bids to build five new facilities in the county. To read about more prison privatization measures see APR 2008’s Public Safety section and’s Corrections and Prisons page.