Visiting an overcrowded prison is a journey into the private life of each person deprived of his or her freedom, into the community of the detainees and of the staff working in such a place. Using the senses of sight, hearing, smell and touch, combined with empathy and time for observation, helps ICRC delegates to explore vulnerabilities, discover how detainees and staff cope, and grasp the intricate complexity of such a prison system. Beyond what is left of human dignity in these places of detention, when coping mechanisms become survival mechanisms, the suffering shows that overcrowding is wrong. It follows that if overcrowding is “nobody's fault”, it is the responsibility of every individual and every institution of the criminal justice system to create solutions.
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