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Prison Situation in Asia Revisited (From International Seminar on Central Issues in Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice, 2001, -- See NCJ-198200)

NCJ Number
Mikinao Kitada
Date Published
8 pages
This paper presents information about the current condition of Asian prisons and then offers two cases that illustrate the prison situation in this region.
The author explains that overcrowding of Asian prisons is the major challenge faced by Asian justice systems. The author presents updated information on prison statistics in order to clarify trends in the Asian prison situation. Of particular note among these statistics is that prisons in most Asian countries are crowded, with China supporting the largest prison population of over 1.4 million prisoners. Another important finding is that there is more reliance on imprisonment as a solution to growing crime concerns. For example, Thailand and Singapore have reported a rapid increase in their imprisonment rates. Furthermore, the author notes that a heavy caseload for staff and a large increase in the female prison population are also looming problems for Asian prisons. In the second half of the article the author illustrates the plight of Asian prisons by presenting two contrasting examples. First, the author describes the problem of reducing the prison population in Korea. During the time from 1998 to 1999, Korea experienced an economic crisis that was coupled with a rapidly increasing prison population. Since that time, the prison population has declined due to three main factors: the improvement of the economy, the controlling of indictment rates, and the enhancement of the early release program. Next, the author discusses Thailand and how its prison population rose from 1996 to 2000 due mainly to the government’s “war on drugs.” Now Thailand is struggling to improve the living conditions in overcrowded prisons. In conclusion, the author observes that most jurisdictions in Asia are urgently seeking practical solutions to relieve overcrowding and improve the functioning of correctional facilities. Tables