Prison reform is an umbrella term that is used to describe many kinds of projects and programs that work to improve the conditions within prisons and, by extension, create a penal system that is more effective for society as a whole. In many cases, it has been found that a person's experiences inside of prison and the social and economic effects of being incarcerated create situations that lead to recidivism. This is opposite to the effect that prisons are supposed to have, which is to offer a sort of rehabilitation that will lead prisoners to not repeat their crimes or commit other kinds of crimes after their period of incarceration has ended.
The history of prison reform is quite long and varies greatly from country to country. As many people know, the prison conditions in one country are not necessarily anything like prison conditions in another. Each country develops its penal system based on the country's legal system, which is also affected by social and cultural factors. Some countries have very little reform and still maintain a penal system that has been in place for generations, while other countries have made many changes to their prisons in recent decades.
Many types of prison reform are aimed at prisoners who can expect to one day be released from prison. There are also kinds of prison reform programs that are directed at inmates who are serving life sentences, inmates who are facing the death penalty, and inmates who are likely to die before they complete their prison sentence. Although these prisoners are not likely to ever become a part of free society again, there are still prison reform programs that are directed at making sure that these people are treated in a humane manner and that their basic rights are upheld.
It is quite common for a prison reform project to target one population of inmates or inmates serving similar kinds of sentences. For example, there have been works to improve the living conditions of pregnant inmates and to make sure that these women are given proper medical care. There are also programs that work to offer alternatives to serving time in prison. These programs are often directed at nonviolent offenders and may include time spent in a rehabilitation facility or halfway house during which program participants are given various kinds of training, therapy, and assistance.