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Access to Justice and Penal Reform

NCJ Number
Date Published
52 pages
This Second South Asia Regional Conference reiterated the universal principles for penal reform in South Asia set out in the first conference in Kathmandu in 1999 and examined specific problems associated with under-trials, women inmates, and juveniles.
The conference was attended by approximately 80 delegates and participants from 4 countries of the region: Bangladesh, India, Nepal, and Sri Lanka. Participants represented various criminal justice professions and nongovernmental organizations involved in corrections work. Regarding the topic of "under-trials" (pretrial detention), the conference called attention to the fact that in many of the countries represented, inmates were held in jail for years without being adjudicated, which is not only an injustice but also has created prison overcrowding that has led to deteriorating prison conditions. The discussion about women in prison focused on their multiple problems, including their marginalization in society which is reflected in the shortage of resources for women in prison compared to male inmates. The attention to juveniles in the justice system focused on the need to process and house them separately from adult offenders. The conference recommendations pertain to ways to address the problems identified in the aforementioned three areas. Although many problems and obstacles were identified as impediments to penal reform efforts, participants displayed a commitment to incorporate as many recommendations as possible within their countries' codes and rules. Appended conference presentations and speeches