• The enormous US prison population, the world's largest, partly reflects harsh sentencing practices contrary to international law, such as disproportionately long prison terms and mandatory sentencing without parole. Those behind bars include a growing number of elderly people, whom prisons are ill-equipped to handle, and youth under age 18 held in adult prisons. Unauthorized immigrants and their families in the United States are vulnerable to abuses stemming from an outdated, ineffective immigration system that deprives them of basic rights, and increasing numbers are held in detention facilities. A number of abusive counterterrorism policies have continued under President Barack Obama, including detentions without charge at Guantanamo Bay.

  • The federal penitentiary in Terre Haute, Indiana. The prison is one of 130 federal facilities to which convicted federal drug defendants can be sent. © 2001 Andy Clark/REUTERS

    The United States has a vibrant civil society and media that enjoy strong constitutional protections. Yet its rights record is marred by abuses related to criminal justice, immigration, national security, and drug policy. Within these areas, victims are often the most vulnerable members of society: racial and ethnic minorities, immigrants, children, the elderly, the poor, and prisoners.

Reports

  • How Large-Scale US Surveillance is Harming Journalism, Law, and American Democracy
  • Human Rights Abuses in US Terrorism Prosecutions
  • Evidence-Based Treatment for Drug Dependence at the United States Veterans Administration Department of Veterans Affairs

United States