• Prisoners and detainees in many local, state and federal facilities, including those run by private contractors, confront conditions that are abusive, degrading and dangerous. Soaring prison populations due to harsh sentencing laws—which legislators have been reluctant to change—and immigrant detention policies coupled with tight budgets have left governments unwilling to make the investments in staff and resources necessary to ensure safe and humane conditions of confinement. Such failures violate the human rights of all persons deprived of their liberty to be treated with humanity and with respect for the inherent dignity of the human person, and to be free from cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.

  • The Federal Bureau of Prisons blocks all but a few federal prisoners from compassionate release, Human Rights Watch and Families Against Mandatory Minimums (FAMM) said in a report released today. The 128-page report is the first comprehensive examination of how compassionate release in the federal system works.

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Prison and Detention Conditions

  • Dec 18, 2014
  • Dec 17, 2014
    The publication of the long-awaited summary of the Senate Intelligence Committee report on the CIA’s torture provides a useful moment to consider the lessons learned from this sorry chapter in American history and the steps that might be taken to avoid its recurrence.
  • Dec 9, 2014
    Human Rights Watch submits the following statement to the Committee on the Judiciary, Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Human Rights on current human rights challenges facing the United States, and how Congress should address them.
  • Oct 20, 2014
    Human Rights Watch's US Program submission to the UN's Committee against Torture for October 2014.
  • Sep 28, 2014
    California Governor Jerry Brown signed into law a bill that could prevent hundreds of young offenders from enduring rape, assault, and gang life in prison, Human Rights Watch said today.
  • Jul 29, 2014
    The US Congress should support greater due process protections for migrant families rather than increasing funding for facilities to detain those crossing the US southern border, Human Rights Watch said today.
  • Jul 18, 2014
    A decision by the US Sentencing Commission on July 18, 2014, will give 46,000 federal inmates serving unnecessarily long sentences for drug offenses a chance to seek sentence reductions. The decision would make a recent amendment to the guidelines for calculating sentences for drug offenses fully retroactive, covering inmates already sentenced as well as future offenders.
  • Jun 13, 2014
    Hopes are high that the U.S. Congress will do the right thing this year and reform notoriously harsh federal drug sentencing laws that have crammed U.S. prisons with small-time offenders.
  • May 5, 2014
    Far too many US laws violate basic principles of justice by requiring disproportionately severe punishment, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today.
  • Apr 30, 2014
    Oklahoma should end its failed experiment with the death penalty. On the evening of April 29, 2014, during an attempt to execute Clayton Lockett by lethal injection, he appeared to regain consciousness. Witnesses reported that Lockett began to mumble, calling out “man” and “something’s wrong,” tried to lift his head, and began to go into a seizure. Lockett died of a heart attack 40 minutes after the execution had begun.