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Beyond Prison: The Fight to Reform Prison Systems around the World

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Volume 3

Human Rights in Context

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Beyond Prison

The Fight to Reform Prison Systems around the World

Ahmed Othmani
Preface by Mary Robinson, former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights
Translated from the French by Marguerite Garling

144 pages,

ISBN  978-1-84545-454-8 $135.00/£99.00 Hb Published (July 2008)

Hb View cartYour country: United States - Click here to remove geolocation   Recommend to your Library Available in GOBI®


“This is an exceptional personal testimony and story of achievement – Ahmed Othmani tells of his own appalling treatment when in detention and how it informed and inspired a lifetime vocation to struggle for the rights of all prisoners everywhere. As the story demonstrates, Othmani is one of those rare individuals who moved from passion and conviction to effective action – he was responsible for the establishment of one of the world’s most reliable and mature human rights organizations, in the field of penal reform, Penal Reform International (PRI). His untimely death in Morocco in 2004 deprived the cause of a passionate advocate, but the work goes on.” [From the Preface]

Ahmed Othmani (1947-2004) was a great figureof the human rights movement and one of the historical leaders of the left in Tunisia. Tunisia's leader Bourguiba imprisoned Othmani (1966-1980). This led him to establish Penal Reform International (PRI) whom he served until he was killed in a hit and run road accident in Morocco in December 2004.

Subject: General History


Robert Badinter

Mary Robinson

Chapter 1. Journey of a Generation

  • From the arid plains to the city
  • Starting in politics
  • From activism to repression
  • The experience of torture
  • The experience of prison
  • A different way of learning about politics

Chapter 2. From Revolution to the Defence of Freedom

  • In praise of pluralism
  • Reaching out to the world
  • Defending the rights of all: the creation of PRI
  • North and South, a false dichotomy
  • Humanising prison

Chapter 3. Crime and Punishment

  • Dispensing justice
  • Only for the powerful…
  • Parallel justice… …or alternative justice?
  • A diverse situation worldwide
  • Justice and prison

Chapter 4. Prisons – a World Apart

  • Overcrowding in prisons
  • The United States, Russia and their emulators
  • Old and new offences
  • A crisis of criminal justice
  • Dramatic health and social problems
  • Halting the mindless reaction

Chapter 5. Prison – a Caricature of Society

  • The rich and the rest
  • Fear, order and violence
  • Risky cohabitation
  • A pathogenic environment
  • Prisoners and the outside world
  • Work in prison

Chapter 6. Do Prisoners Have Rights?

  • The slow process of developing laws
  • Good and bad learners
  • The ghost gulag
  • The unique case of Rwanda
  • Implementing gacaca

Chapter 7. Alternatives to Prison

  • Prevention is better
  • What should replace prison?
  • Community service
  • Post-sentence rehabilitation

Chapter 8. Reforming Prison

  • Resistance to reform
  • Outside influences
  • What reforms, and for what kind of prison?
  • A realistic ideal
  • Winning over the doubters

Simone Othmani Lellouche

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