Prisoner releases by country/ jurisdiction

The UK’s already overcrowded prisons face a rapidly escalating public health catastrophe from COVID-19. Transform have been calling for the managed release of non-violent drug and drug related offenders from prisons as part of the effort to reduce the strain on the prisons system and reduce risk of virus transmission. In March, the UK government announced a limited release of 70 prisoners — pregnant women and those in mother and baby units. This was followed by a further announcement in early April that up to 4,000 non-violent prisoners with 2 months or less of their sentences remaining would be released. However, as of 27 April 2020, only 33 prisoners had been released from prisons in England and Wales. In comparison, Northern Ireland has released nearly 10% of its prison population.

Over 80,000 individuals remain in the prison estate — a large proportion of whom are drug or drug-related offenders, and many of whom could be safely released. With up to a quarter of staff isolating, there are not the resources to manage a prison estate of this size safely. Prisons remain over capacity by about 5,000 people.

Other organisations and individuals that have called for the managed release of prisoners to ease strain on prison systems during the pandemic include: the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, The Head of the Prison Governors Association, The Howard League for Penal Reform, Prison Reform Trust, Penal Reform International, INQUEST and Women in Prison, and, in a joint letter to the UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to health; Harm Reduction International, the Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network, the Eurasian Harm Reduction Association (EHRA), the International Drug Policy Consortium (IDPC), the International Network of People who use Drugs (INPUD), LBH Masyarakat, Release, and Rights Reporter Foundation.

Below we list a number of countries and jurisdictions, compiled with the assistance of Harm Reduction International that have already taken action implementing measures to release prisoners and help protect the safety of prisons. We will keep this updated as we call on the UK government to take further action (please send news/updates to [email protected])

Country Number of
prisoners to
be released
Date as of Type of release Including drug
offenders?
Afghanistan [1] 22,399 27/03/2020 Early release (10,000)

Pardon

(12,399)

Yes
Albania [1] 600 24/03/2020 Temporary release Yes
Algeria [1][2] 5,037 01/04/2020 Pardons No: drug crimes are excluded from the pardon
Argentina [1][2][3] 1,000 28/04/2020 Temporary release Unclear
Australia (New South Wales) [1] [2] 24/03/2020 Legislative powers to
release certain prisoners
made available in NSW
Yes
Azerbaijan [1] 200 26/03/2020 Early release Unclear
Bahrain [1] 1,486 17/03/2020 900 pardons, remainder of sentences converted to custodial release Unclear
Brazil [1][2] Estimated 30,000 01/04/2020 Temporary release Yes
Burkina Faso [1] 1,207 03/04/2020 Pardons Unclear: ‘no one convicted of “acts of organised crime or terrorism” has been released’.
Cameroon [1] 1,000 24/04/2020 Unclear Unclear
Canada [1] [2] [3] 2,300+ in Ontario

79 in Nova Scotia

09/04/2020 Temporary release/ pre-trial detainees Yes
Colombia [1] [2] [3] 4,000

(10,850 eligible)

30/03/2020 Temporary release (house arrest) Yes
Cote d’Ivoire [1] 2,004 08/04/2020 Early release (1000), Pardon (1,004) Unclear
Cyprus [1] 114 03/04/2020 Early release (house arrest) Yes
DR Congo [1] 2,000 17/04/2020 Pre-trial detainees/ temporary release Unclear
England and Wales [1][2] Up to 4,000

(only 33 released as of 27/04/2020)

04/04/2020 (suspended 18/04/2020) Early release Yes
Ethiopia [1] [2] 4,011 27/03/2020 Pardons Unclear (only ‘minor crimes’ covered)
Egypt 4,001 27/04/2020 Pardons/

Conditional release

Unclear
France [1][2] 5,000-6,000 04/04/2020 Early release Unclear
India [1][2] 14,000 29/03/2020 Bail/parole Yes
Indonesia [1] [2] 50,000 02/04/2020 Early release Unclear: some 15,442 prisoners sentenced for drug use that have served five to 10 years in prison were speculated to be included. However, the director-general has said that ‘drug crimes’ are excluded.
Iran [1] 85,000 20/03/2020 Early release (pardons for 10,000) Unclear
Ireland [1] 300 02/04/2020 Temporary release Unclear
Israel [1] 400 28/03/2020 Temporary release Yes
Italy [1][2] 200 25/03/2020 Early release Yes
India [1] 1,112 16/04/2020 Temporary release Yes
Germany (North-Rhine Westphalia) [1] 1,000 25/03/2020 Early release Yes
Ghana [1] [2] 808 27/03/2020 Amnesty First time offenders
Guyana [1] Unclear 07/04/2020 Pardons/ early release All female non-violent offenders including drug offenders have been pardoned
Jordan [1] 1,500 17/03/2020 Pre-trial detainees Yes
Kenya [1] 4,800 02/04/2020 Early release Yes
Lebanon [1] 599 (may be up to 3,000) 06/04/2020 Pardon Yes
Libya [1] 466 29/03/2020 Pre-trial detainees/ conditional release Yes
Mali [1] 1,200 20/04/2020 Pardon Unclear
Morocco [1][2] 5,654 05/04/2020 Pardon Yes
Mozambique [1] 5,032 08/04/2020 Amnesty Yes
Myanmar [1] [2] 24,896 17/04/2020 Annual amnesty Yes
Niger [1] 1,500 03/03/2020 Early release Unclear
Nigeria [1] [2] [3] Unconfirmed: up to 50,000 (figure is based on 50,000 in pre-trial detention) 28/03/2020 Pre-trial detainees Yes
Northern Ireland [1] 200 31/03/2020 Temporary release Yes
Norway [1] 194 04/05/2020 Early release Unclear
Philippines [1] 9,731 02/05/2020 Early release Unclear
Poland [1] 9,000-12,000 23/03/2020 Emergency release subject to electronic monitoring Yes
Saudi Arabia [1] 250 26/03/2020 Early release No: foreign detainees serving non-violent immigration and residency offences
Senegal [1] 1,846 28/03/2020 Pardon ‘Illicit trafficking’ excluded
Scotland [1] 450 21/04/2020 Early release Yes
Sri Lanka [1] 2,961 05/04/2020 Early release Unclear
Sudan [1] 4,217 03/04/2020 Early release Yes
Thailand [1] 8,000 14/04/2020 Temporary release Yes
Togo [1] 1,048 02/04/2020 Pardon Unclear
Trinidad and Tobago [1] 388 03/04/2020 Early release Yes
Tunisia [1] [2] [3] 1,420 31/03/2020 Amnesty Unclear
Turkey [1] [2] [3] 90,000- 100,000 31/03/2020 Early release/ house arrest Drug trafficking excluded
Uganda [1] [2] [Pending approval] 2,000 07/04/2020 Pardon Yes
USA (Texas) [1] 250 per day (ongoing) 31/03/2020 Pre-trial detainees Yes
USA (California) [1] 3,500 31/03/2020 Early release Yes
USA (New Jersey) [1] [2] 1,000 25/03/2020 Temporary release Unclear
Zimbabwe [1] 1,680 01/04/2020 Pardon Yes (includes non-violent offenders)

Last updated 04/05/20

2020-05-21T16:04:35+01:00April 3rd, 2020|

RECENT TWEETS

CONTACT US