PRISONS AND PENOLOGY With a few notable exceptions, the trend toward a tougher criminal policy throughout the world resulted in an increased reliance upon imprisonment in 1996. Prison conditions in many countries deteriorated; almost invariably, untried persons were held under the worst circumstances. Prisoners in Russia, for example, suffered high mortality rates and a prevalence of tuberculosis that was 40 times higher than in the general population. The Russian prison population grew, on average, by 3,500-4,000 per month, reaching an incarceration rate of 570 prisoners per 100,000 inhabitants. This rate was similar to those of some other former Soviet republics, such as Kazakstan and Belarus. Such was the pressure of numbers in Turkmenistan that several people suffocated in overcrowded cells. Russia and the United States were among the countries with the highest proportions of their inhabitants in prison. In the U.S., where in 1996 more than 1.5 million were held in federal, state, and local facilities, the indications were that recent "three strikes and you're out" measures of mandatory prison sentences enacted by several states and the federal government would lead to further huge increases. The National Council on Crime and Delinquency, an independent agency, estimated that the nation's total prison population could rise to as high as 7.5 million if legislative and other proposals were acted upon. Concerns increasingly were being raised that some European countries were on track to follow the U.S. example. In Italy, for example, the prison population doubled between 1990 and 1995, with 52,000 people held in 33,000 places. The prison population in England and Wales increased by 40% between 1992 and 1996, and was forecast to grow at an even faster rate if the government's mandatory minimum sentencing proposals were put into effect. Appalling prison conditions were reported in many other parts of the world. In Nigeria an average of 10 people each week died, many of malnutrition, in two of the main prisons in Lagos. A total of 35,000 prisoners were awaiting trial, some after as long as 10 years. In Kenya, where the prison population increased from 13,000 to 40,000 between 1963 and 1995, more than 800 prisoners died during 1995, mostly as a result of the spread of malaria, dysentery, tuberculosis, and AIDS. Elsewhere in Africa the situation was even more grim. In Rwanda severe overcrowding resulted in prisoners' being held in food warehouses and in tents. The situation in some parts of Latin America also worsened. El Salvador's 16 prisons operated at three times their capacity. Space was at such a premium that prisoners were forced to sleep in a sitting position. Overcrowding was also considered a factor in the deaths of 25 inmates in a Caracas, Venez., prison during a fire. High levels of crowding and declining conditions were associated with serious riots in several prisons. In April a riot at the prison near Goiania, Brazil (where 5,000 prisoners shared 100 cells), was followed by the escape of 30 prisoners. In the Dominican Republic six prisoners were killed at San Cristobel prison in May during rioting that was touched off by crowded conditions. Riots also occurred in 20 prisons in Argentina in April amid concerns about the length of time people were held before trial. Serious rioting took place in March 1996 at five Greek prisons, and in July 12 prisoners in Turkey died during a hunger strike. A few countries took steps intended to reduce the use of imprisonment. The new Czech penal code took effect in January, enabling the courts to make use of community service as an alternative to prison sentences of five years or less. In the Canadian province of Quebec, the Ministry of Public Security declared that in contrast to the trend sweeping across North America, "Quebec has decided to turn its back on the repressive model" and adopt a system based on "prevention, resolution of conflict and the use of incarceration only for individuals who pose a threat to the population's security." By contrast, the Dutch government announced measures aimed at ensuring tougher sentences for drug traffickers. By 1996 two U.S. states--Florida and Arizona--were using chain gangs. Alabama, however, discontinued their use. In March 1996 Amnesty International reported that in regard to the death penalty, 100 of the world's nations could be described as abolitionist either in law or in practice and that 94 retained it. During 1995 South Africa, Moldova, and Mauritius were added to the list of countries that had abolished the death penalty. Although regarded as an underestimate by Amnesty International, there were 2,931 persons known to have been executed during 1995 in 41 countries. Of this total, 2,190 were carried out in China, 192 in Saudi Arabia, and more than 100 in Nigeria. Large numbers of executions also occurred in Iraq, but exact figures were not available. In Russia there were 710 persons on death row, and at least 16 were executed (although Amnesty International independently confirmed that 28 executions took place). At least 30 persons were executed in Kyrgyzstan and at least 63 in Kazakstan. In the U.S. in 1996 (where 39 states had restored the death penalty since 1976), 45 executions took place, and more than 3,150 persons were held on death row, including 47 juveniles. Federal funding was removed from the legal aid centres that represented defendants and appellants in capital cases, and in Texas it was decreed that family members of the victim were to be invited to view the execution. Although there were no executions in Ghana, some prisoners in that nation had been on death row for up to 13 years in conditions described by a human rights group as "excruciating." (ANDREW RUTHERFORD) See also World Affairs: Multinational and Regional Organizations; United Nations. This article updates constitutional law; crime and punishment; international law; police. LIBRARIES In 1996 libraries around the world were both shaping their collections and being shaped by the continued spectacular growth of the Internet, a worldwide network of computers. The role of libraries as disseminators and providers of some of the most valued information available on the Internet was a heartening development for a profession that had historically experienced limited visibility, respect, and prestige. Equally important to librarians, however, was the growing promise of the Internet to mitigate some of their most pressing problems: static or shrinking resources and ever-growing demands for information and services. Affordable technologies allowed libraries to retrieve text, images, and sound rapidly from remote locations around the globe. In April the New York Public Library, as part of its centennial celebration, served as host of a summit attended by leaders from 50 of the world's main libraries to discuss the "Global Library Strategies for the 21st Century." Although the Internet is too diffuse and volatile to categorize easily, most of the host computers and users were located in North America, Australia, Europe, and Asia. The relative dearth of development in Africa and Latin America added credence to librarians' concerns for the "info-poor." Indeed, while thousands of libraries logged onto the Internet in 1996, a donkey-powered bookmobile plied the countryside in Zimbabwe. In many parts of the world, national libraries and governments played a leading role in developing new facilities and resources. Turkey appointed a librarian to develop a national network of university libraries, while the government in Singapore announced plans to spend S$1 billion to enhance and expand library services with a goal of making Singapore a "Renaissance City of the New Asia." The initiative would also provide librarians with high-tech training, regular salary reviews, and career structures to transform them into "cybrarians" and "knowledge navigators." Spectacular and expensive national library buildings neared completion in England, France, and Denmark. Other libraries continued to digitize catalogs, collections, and other data to enable 24-hour-a-day access from anywhere in the world. The British Library, for example, introduced GABRIEL (Gateway and Bridge to Europe's National Libraries), an on-line multilingual directory that offered a single point of access to a number of national libraries in Europe. In Egypt the Library of Alexandria neared completion, while the Shanghai Library, China's second largest facility, planned to enhance its collection and on-line services by moving into a new 830,000-sq m (8,934,000-sq ft) facility, also home to that city's Institute of Scientific and Technical Information. Increased access to the contents of the Internet, particularly World Wide Web sites, produced a number of concerns. While the Chinese government announced plans to limit and/or screen out some electronic information, public libraries worried about children accessing some very adult images and text. In the U.S. the American Library Association was the lead plaintiff in a suit challenging the Communications Decency Act, which sought to ban as "indecent" a broad category of electronic information. In June, however, a federal district court ruled the act unconstitutional. Copyright infringement was another complex problem exacerbated by a wired world. Attempts to restore the collections and bibliographic records of the war-ravaged National Library of Bosnia continued with assistance from UNESCO and OCLC (the Online Library Computer Center of Dublin, Ohio). No decision had been made, however, about the fate of the ornate Euro-arabesque building, though proposals were made to either leave the structure unrestored as a memorial or restore it to its original function as Sarajevo's city hall. Restoration of the Accademia dei Georgofili, the museum library of Florence's Uffizi Gallery, also continued. The Uffizi had been damaged in 1993 by a bomb blast that Italian police blamed on the Mafia. In the U.S., San Francisco opened the most technically advanced library in the world. The seven-story New Main facility occupied 35,000 sq m (376,000 sq ft) and boasted 11 special-interest centres and 400 computer workstations, 100 of them with Internet access. Some denounced the discarding of about 200,000 books and a decision, later rescinded, to dispose of the card catalog. The New York Public Library opened a new $100 million Science, Industry, and Business Library for use by the general public and small businesses. Microsoft chairman Bill Gates announced a $10.5 million program called Libraries Online!, which would help 41 libraries in North America expand their electronic services. A survey conducted by the National Commission on Libraries and Information Science showed that 45% of public libraries in the U.S. were connected to the Internet. The International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA) held its annual meeting in Beijing in August. IFLA also launched its own World Wide Web site, IFLANET, which could be accessed by association members in 70 nations. (GORDON FLAGG; THOMAS GAUGHAN) This article updates library.
YEAR IN REVIEW 1997: LAW-CRIME-AND-LAW-ENFORCEMENT
Meaning of YEAR IN REVIEW 1997: LAW-CRIME-AND-LAW-ENFORCEMENT in English
Britannica English vocabulary. Английский словарь Британика. 2012