Skip to main content
Strategies and Best Practices Against Overcrowding in Correctional Institutions
  • Curt Taylor Griffiths, Ph.D., Simon Fraser University
  • Danielle J. Murdoch, M. Phil., Simon Fraser University
Prison overcrowding can be most aptly defined as a situation in which the numbers of persons confined in a prison are greater than the capacity of the prison to provide adequately for the physical and psychological needs of the confined persons. Overcrowding in prisons is a feature of many systems of criminal justice throughout the world and has significant implications for governments, communities, prisoners, and their families. There are a variety of prisoners to be found in overcrowded facilities: persons who have been detained prior to a hearing or trial; convicted offenders serving sentences; convicted offenders awaiting an appeal of their sentence; asylum-seekers; illegal migrants and persons who have been arbitrarily detained for political or military purposes (c.f. reports of the Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights of Migrants). In some extreme circumstances, prison overcrowding creates conditions that have been found to constitute ill treatment of prisoners within the provisions of the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (Convention Against Torture). The report of the African Commission on Human and People’s Rights Special Rapporteur on Prisons and Conditions of Detention in Africa stated in the report on South Africa (2004:54) that prison overcrowding “is by itself a human rights violation and occasions further human rights violations.”
Publication Date
February, 2009
Citation Information
Curt Taylor Griffiths and Danielle J. Murdoch. "Strategies and Best Practices Against Overcrowding in Correctional Institutions" (2009)
Available at: