Prison Reform Across Borders

Last month, I got the opportunity to help Susan Farkas for a UNTV: 21st Century episode on prison reform in the Caucasus. I had volunteered to assist as an Armenian translator during its production, unaware of the subject matter. Even as an avid examiner of social and political issues in my home country of Armenia, this one surprised me.

Prison reform has recently garnered much deserved attention in the United States. With staggering statistics that speak of a system plagued by systemic racism, it’s an issue that merits not just discussion, but action. Racism is rampant throughout the whole, but few developing countries arrest on its account.

The total number of U.S. incarceration is estimated to be more than 2.4 million – almost equal to the population of Armenia (approx. 2.98 million). And that’s not including the 12 million individuals who serve sentences for less than a year.

These numbers, as well as the racial disparities they represent surface frequently, everywhere from Facebook to the Oscars. Discussion of prison reform in the United States no longer comes as a surprise, but in the case of Armenia it does.

And the need for prison reform in a small, ethnically homogenous state in the Caucasus serves as more persuasive evidence against the effectiveness of our archaic criminal systems worldwide.

Watch the episode here:

Statistics from ThinkProgess.

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