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Authorities in the Region Dialogue on Penitentiary and Prison Policies

  September 19, 2012

In order to continue supporting Member States in their efforts to prevent and address the challenges of crime and violence, the Organization of American States (OAS) organized the Third Meeting of Officials Responsible for Penitentiary and Prison Policies in Washington, D.C.

The technical meeting was attended by officials from the OAS Member States responsible for the development and implementation of penitentiary and prison policies in their countries, as well as participants from various international agencies and civil society organizations.

During the event, the OAS Secretary for Multidimensional Security, Ambassador Adam Blackwell, highlighted that “the prison systems of the Americas face a deep crisis, with an evident deterioration of prison conditions.” He maintained that the concern of the citizens, and therefore of political actors, has focused on the punishment of those who commit crimes, rather than on their reintegration, and explained that the increase in prison population in the hemisphere is directly related to prevention policies that have not had the expected success.

According to Blackwell, social reintegration is the essential purpose of imprisonment, but additionally, rehabilitation and reintegration of those who have committed crimes are guarantees of safety, and therefore, the state should promote the necessary conditions to achieve these goals.

Based on the political mandate to promote cooperation and technical assistance in this vital area, the General Secretariat considers this meeting as an opportunity to identify the needs and capabilities of the region and facilitate knowledge sharing processes that allow the development of capacities and sustainable progress.

The meeting comes at a time when the countries of the region, especially in Central America and the Caribbean, have begun to develop and implement comprehensive strategies for public security, and are committed to carrying out broad processes of institutional reform, including penitentiary, prison systems and reintegration policies.

The main issues discussed were the areas of infrastructure, security and admission assessments (correctional planning, security and intelligenc e, risk assessment), intervention strategies, release and community supervision (programming/intervention; rehabilitation, employment reintegration, education and training; gradual release strategies; collaboration with communities; private sector and NGOs), data and statistics on prisons.

For more information, please visit the OAS Website at

Reference: E-320/12