The World's Prison Crisis

Overcrowding, poor hygiene and drug addiction aren’t just issues that affect U.S. prisons, but extend to those of other regimes worldwide.

In Iraq, several prisoners in Interior Ministry facilities have been diagnosed with scabies — though it’s not clear whether the problem extends to U.S.-run prisons.

The government denies that scabies are a problem, and refuses to accept medication from an Iraqi advocacy group, which is now calling for international intervention.

“Bad management of prisons isn’t something new in Iraq but sometimes I think it is worse now than it was during Saddam Hussein’s regime,” said one Iraqi prison guard, speaking anonymously to the United Nations news service.

In Zimbabwe, overcrowded prisons — crammed with 40,000 people, but designed for only 16,000 — are rife with filth, and have become home to a mass outbreak of dermatomyositis.

The disease, which cause the skin to peel away from the neck and hands, has far claimed the lives of around 800 male and female inmates, killing approximately ten per week.

A prison official there told the ZIm daily that it’s not clear what, if anything, the government is doing to curb the outbreak, since it covers up the outbreak by telling families their relatives died of natural causes.

Dermatomyositis is also cause by malnutrition, a direct result of chronic food shortages across Zimbabwe.

In Iran, experts blame prison overcrowding on the fact the nation’s high rate of drug prosecutions.

According to prison officials, fully half of all male inmates in Iraq were convicted of drug-related crimes.

Prisoners also continue their drug addictions in prison, reports Agence France-Presse.

Iran jails a far larger percentage of its population than the vast majority of countries.

There are 225 prisoners there for every 100,000 people, whereas the world average is 144 per 100,000.


“Scabies said to be rife in several Iraqi prisons”
IRIN News (United Nations), October 2, 2007

“Drug-related crime filling Iran’s prisons: official”
Agence France-Presse, October 7, 2007

“Fatal rare skin disease wrecks havoc in Zim prisons”
Zim Daily (Zimbabwe), October 9, 2007

One thought on “The World's Prison Crisis

  1. Dermatomyositis is an autoimmune disease, not an infectious disease! It is a very rare disease, just around 5-10/ 1 million people each year. Crowded condition is never a risk factor to this disease. Please double check your news. Disseminating incorrect information make the patients suffering from dermatomyositis under prejudice!