(Over)imprisonment and (over)use of prisons at the 18th Conference of Directors of Prison Administration Silvia Bernardo November 27, 2013

(Over)imprisonment and (over)use of prisons at the 18th Conference of Directors of Prison Administration

Pedro das Neves from Qualify just/IPS addressed a keynote speech on (over)imprisonment and the (over)use of prisons; alternative measures and some limits that contemporary prison design trends may pose to the execution of sentences and penitentiary activity.

The 18th Council of Europe Conference of Directors of Prison Administration was held from 27 to 29 of November 2013 in Brussels, Belgium.

The conference was co-organised with the Belgian Prison Service and the Belgian Federal Public Service of Justice and will gather together the Directors General of the prison services of the 47 Council of Europe member states.

 The Directors of the European Probation Services, European judges and prosecutors, representatives of the states enjoying observer status with the Council of Europe, the European Union, the UN, EuroPris and the European Organisation for Probation (CEP) have been invited to the Conference.  The Conference discussed in three parallel sessions: the (over)use of prisons; the complexity of prison and probation management; conditions and preparation for release; and the role and relations of prison and probation services in setting and executing individual sentence plans.

In this context the participants took part in debates regarding the execution of very short prison sentences, how to make best use of them and how to deal successfully with more offenders in the community. Special attention was paid to how court practices may influence the reduction of prison inflation.

 High incarceration rates, overcrowding and/or poor detention facilities are leading different prison administrations in Europe to consider the construction of new prisons. While high public debt and deficits (and in some cases external economic assistance programmes) but also fairly liberal political trends options are conditioning public choice, are – in many cases – also allowing prison administrations explore new models of planning, financing and operating new prisons.

Even when financial discipline and “low cost” became buzzwords for public service, it is generally acknowledged that rehabilitation is unlikely when prisons conditions ‘reduce’ inmate’s condition; that better detention facilities encourage rehabilitation. New prison design is therefore an opportunity to rethink how the rehabilitation process within walls should occur.


Planning ahead of time means learning from the past experiences and looking to the present and future challenges of live outside prison… In this presentation I will talk about the high cost of “minimum” led design and its impact in inmate’s behavior within walls; and the lost opportunity of rethinking prison space and the rehabilitation concept…


For further information about the conference programme, speakers and participants profile and presentations, click here.