MEPs have taken a stance against prison conditions in the European Union by expressing concerns of overcrowding during the Civil Liberties Committee meeting on Wednesday, June 21, 2017.

During the session, MEPs expressed their concern with the high levels of overcrowding in detention centers in some of the EU member states. MEPs also encouraged the national authorities to utilize alternatives, such as home detention, community service work, and electronic bracelets should be prioritized for those who are not a danger to society and that imprisonment should be used conservatively.

The Council of Europe states that the number of detainees exceeds the number of available places in a third of European penitentiary institutions. According to a 2017 briefing, overcrowding is not only an issue of living space as it also strains the prison capacity and staff. This results in a reduction in the quality of services offered to inmates. Overcrowding in prisons decreases the safety of inmates and staff, has negative effects on health conditions, and hinders rehabilitation.

Overcrowding is not only a matter of living space as it also strains the prison capacity and staff which results in a reduction in the quality of services offered to inmates. MEPs reinforced that overcrowding in prisons decreases the safety of inmates and staff, has negative effects on health conditions, and hinders rehabilitation.

There was also support of alternative methods to incarceration with juvenile offenders, despite the crime they have committed. If juveniles are to be detained, it should be separate from adults.

Vulnerable detainees, such as elderly or disabled people were also discussed. Specifically the needs of women, especially those who are pregnant or have recently given birth.

Concern was also voiced over the increase of prisons systems’ privatization and emphasized that staff serving in prisons should have fair pay, proper working conditions, and regular training.

The Civil Liberties Committee backed an own-initiative report on prisons’ systems and conditions on June 21,  2017. There were 44 votes in favor, four against and three abstentions. The report will be put to a vote in plenary in the future.