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Prison Conditions Monitoring Index: Methodology and Pilot Results

International organisations, national governments and human rights NGOs exercise various types of monitoring of the penitentiary systems. In order to quantify their results, there are some generally accepted indicators (such as the number of inmates per 100.000 citizens), but in many specific areas like healthcare, employment, security and safety, such indicators have never been applied. Therefore, those monitoring efforts will substantially benefit from an instrument capable of supplying comparable and easy-to-use data on the situation in prisons.

To address this need, the Center for the Study of Democracy, in cooperation with the Dortmund University of Applied Sciences and Arts, the Observatory on the Penal System and Human Rights with the University of Barcelona, the Law Institute of Lithuania and Association Droit au Droit, developed a Prison Conditions Monitoring Index (PCMI) – a system of indicators translating into comparable figures the situation in different prisons. In the end of 2014, the PCMI was piloted in several prisons in Bulgaria, Germany and Lithuania to test its operability and analyse the potential use of the results it generates.

The present report elaborates on the methodology underlying the PCMI and offers a summary of the results of its pilot implementation. It is intended for a broad audience of readers including policy makers, prison staff, lawyers, social workers, academics and NGOs interested in the topic of prison monitoring.

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