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Serving a Prison Sentence: Prisoner's Rights

By: Liz Lennox - Updated: 27 May 2017 | comments*Discuss
 
Prison Prisoners Crime Legal Convicted

Anyone convicted of a crime in the UK, or being held on remand pending trial, will not be able to avail themselves of the full extent of the rights currently on the law books, or protected by the European Court of Human Rights. However, this does not mean that they become sub-human or less deserving of respect and dignity than anyone else, it just means that they are subject to certain restrictions.

Allocation

Upon arrival in prison you will be searched for any items that are not permitted in the prison, such as weapons or drugs etc. Any cash that you are holding will be confiscated and placed into a special account for your use. This may all seem a bit harsh but you need to bear in mind that the prison system is not designed to be a holiday-camp, recent headlines notwithstanding.

Each prisoner is required, as part of their time in Prison, to abide by the rules laid down by the Prison Act 1952 and also to any rules or regulations that cover that particular establishment.

Once you have been searched and assessed you will be allocated a certain category based, in part, on your offence and on your behaviour. The basic regime has the strictest rules and fewer privileges than its more favourable counterparts (the standard or enhanced). Also, again dependant on your particular offence, you may be immediately segregated from the rest of the prison population. Many critics of the prison system would say that this is not necessary; that all prisoners should be together and whatever happens; happens. This would be a breach of one of the most fundamental human rights; protection of the body and respect for dignity.

Contact with Family

It is a breach of the Prison Act to deny a prisoner the ability to contact his family and loved ones. Therefore card or PIN telephones are available in all prisons however, for security purposes, all calls are taped except those to legal counsel, the Samaritans or other similar organisations. In some cases, as a punishment, the Governor may restrict phone use although this is in breach of the European Convention on Human Rights.

In addition to phone rights the Prisoners also have the right to send two letters to loved ones; one ‘statutory’ letter and one ‘privilege’ letter. The privilege letter can be stopped as a punishment but the statutory one cannot. All letters coming from inmates of High-security prisons and Category A offenders will be read and possibly censored. This also covers letters to legal counsel, although this is just intended as a measure to ensure that it is actually legal in nature and not a ploy intended to assist the inmate in breaking the rules or committing further offences.

In addition the Governor of the prison, no matter which category, has the power to send back letters sent to inmates if they are too long or if there are too many arriving. This may be a breach of personal freedom but this must be offset with the need to keep order in the prison system.

Restrictions

Make no mistake, no matter what your crime, you will be subject to the Prison Rules while you are a ‘guest of the state’, however many of your basic rights are unchanged. You still have the right to food, protection from assault and access to the courts. What you lose are your civil right to vote and your right to personal freedom, among others.

What we have at the present are basic needs being met in the form of food, housing, work, education, protection and acknowledgement of the family unit.The law is still developing in this area and it may be that further rights are introduced as the law changes; it may also be that rights are removed by necessity or for security reasons. Whether the Rules past, present and future can stand up to the scrutiny of the European Court of Human Rights is a matter for the Prisoners groups and the Lawmakers but the prison system is its own society and therefore any proposals for change in this area will be the subject of intense debate.

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My partner got 12 months, 6months suspended 6 months in prison, he has been in prison just over two weeks now. he has applied to come out on tag, how soon will he know if they will allow it also how much of his sentence will he have to serve
Cat - 27-May-17 @ 9:58 PM
Hello I'm worried about my boyfriend he is in prison I have called the prison twices both times I have been told he is oki but when I have talked to my boyfriend he has told me a whole new story I'm not happy with the way the prison is dealing with him or theres 2 prisoners that have repeatedly beat him up iv have made the prison awear of what's going on .soo has he and he has been promised his geting moved as they can't keep him safe I know my boyfriend had contacted a solicitor because of injuries He has to his body from other prisoners and the gurds just leaveing it for soo long I was promised a phone call by this Wednesday by my boyfriend to tell me what's going on iv heard nothing witch is makeing me more worried as it's not normal for him as he always calls when he says he will and with every thing going on is makeing me more worried who can he contact for help with his own safety as I'm due to have his baby every soon and I know he dose not tell me everything because his worrys about us soo I would like a contact he can talk to help or who he can speak too it's only sinces his been moved this prisonhis had such problems
Sofi - 26-May-17 @ 10:02 PM
Hi, my partner has just been moved to a D cat prison. He has been given him his date of 1st town leave and also 1st home leave. There is a chance of further charges being brought against him. If there were, it was known before his D cat review, would they have moved him just to possibly move him back to a C cat later? Seems pointless
Harry - 23-May-17 @ 3:15 PM
Donster - Your Question:
Hi my boyfriend is in hmp altcourse he rings me on a weekly bases but I haven't heard from him for over 2 weeks how can I find out if he's alright he was talking about killing himself when we last spoke please help thank you.

Our Response:
Write to the prison's governor, the address is on their website.
AboutHumanRights - 22-May-17 @ 11:56 AM
My son is in court this morning. He already had a suspended sentence & commited another crime yesterday (I don't know what). Police & court confirmed number I could call today to get outcome & assured me the phone was manned on a Saturday....of course that's not the case! Called police & offenders families helpline who both said there's no way of me finding out outcome until Monday & said if he was sent to prison that when I call court Monday they wouldn't necessarily tell me where he was sent to, just depends who answers whether they decide to tell me what the holding prison was for that day! Is he allowed a call at any point & If I don't hear from him is there anyway I can find out which prison he is in?
fluffybunny - 20-May-17 @ 11:33 AM
Hi my boyfriend is in hmp altcourse he rings me on a weekly bases but I haven't heard from him for over 2 weeks how can I find out if he's alright he was talking about killing himself when we last spoke please help thank you.
Donster - 19-May-17 @ 4:48 PM
I missed a call from my partner can she ring me back again today? Or how does it work?
Jw - 18-May-17 @ 3:38 PM
My husband realise date is Feb 2017 but prison put him on parole is that right and he is biritsh citizen we have 6 year old son he never seen his child . I am worried now if they deport him back home than whatwe will do .
Mani - 10-May-17 @ 3:51 PM
Tessabear - Your Question:
My husband is cat c and has been allocated miles away from me, I dont drive so cant visit and am just starting treatment for cancer! Is there anyway I can help him to stay in a closer prison whilst I undergo treatment?

Our Response:
Your husband can apply for a transfer through the prison's request/complaints system (a special form for transfers is also provided by prisons). He must be the one to apply but a family member can write to the governor with supporting information. This letter should detail why it's necessary for your husband to be nearer and can include information from your GP etc.Note that a transfer wll probably only be considered once your husband has served a few months at the new prison.
AboutHumanRights - 8-May-17 @ 12:04 PM
Can someone get out of prison for a siblings wedding someone who been in a fraud case but is waiting to go court still is it possible they been money fraud on false allegations would they be able to come out for a wedding one day
Rhiaan - 7-May-17 @ 8:27 PM
My husband is cat c and has been allocated miles away from me, i dont drive so cant visit and am just starting treatment for cancer! Is there anyway i can help him to stay in a closer prison whilst i undergo treatment?
Tessabear - 6-May-17 @ 3:59 PM
Sammie - Your Question:
When a person has been remanded to prison untill sentence date are they aloud to write letters to family and partners?

Our Response:
Yes usually prisoner's are allowed to write to family and partners in the same way as other prisoners.
AboutHumanRights - 5-May-17 @ 2:31 PM
When a person has been remanded to prison untill sentence date are they aloud to write letters to family and partners?
Sammie - 5-May-17 @ 12:11 PM
My husband got his cat d 10 weeks ago an he has been secured a place at a cat d prison which is closer to home. He has been in a prison for 14 months that is 5 hours away. The prison just keep saying he has to wait for transport, how long should he have to wait?
Sam - 29-Apr-17 @ 8:10 PM
Mayah - Your Question:
My husband was moved from CAT C to CAT D about a month ago but when he was in CAT C he was close to home and now they have taken him about 5 hours away so we haven't been able to visit him and the prison aren't really doing much for him to be transferred closer. Is there anything we can do from our side to see if he can be moved closer?

Our Response:
This will depend on whether there are any CAT D prisons nearer that have space. If there aren't any available or there are, but they have no vacant spaces then there's not much you can do to influence this. Try contacting one of the following organisations:
Prisoners' Families Helpline
Offenders' Families Helpline
Family Lives
AboutHumanRights - 28-Apr-17 @ 12:02 PM
I have just been released from prison and have a supervision order for twelve months, (seeing probation once a week) but my release paper work from prison also says my licence finish date is two days after my release date. My Question is as my licence has finished but still being seen by probation once aweek for next 52 weeks. Can I go for 2wk holiday abroad as I need to have time out for my mental healthealth.
Monkeymark - 28-Apr-17 @ 1:22 AM
My husband was moved from CAT C to CAT D about a month ago but when he was in CAT C he was close to home and now they have taken him about 5 hours away so we haven't been able to visit him and the prison aren't really doing much for him to be transferred closer. Is there anything we can do from our side to see if he can be moved closer?
Mayah - 27-Apr-17 @ 9:58 AM
As a Christian elder I had a letter from a man in prison on Isle of White who fervently inisists he is innocent of a serious crime totally convinced of gross injustice. He says he tòok my advice and wrote to Portsmouth m.p. Penny Morduant but says was ignored.I don't know him or the details of his alleged crime of sexual nature but he is extremely insistent of innocence (he has a 3 year old daughter). What further positive advice can I offer of I reply to his second letter? Malcoln
Mick - 26-Apr-17 @ 9:05 PM
My boyfriend went into prison 2 days ago for breach of his probation. He's got 8 weeks but my boyfriend rung me yesterday and said he got told when he arrived to the prison he will be doing 4 weeks in and 4 weeks out on licence? Will he be doing half his time so 4 weeks? As I've always been told everyone does half their Time? So confused and i just have so many questions to ask him when he rings but not enough time on the phone... How many phone calls does he get and what times can he call? He said he can't put no credit on till Monday now?
Cookie - 25-Apr-17 @ 6:50 PM
Hello when can a cat c prisoner apply for a cat d wing? His total sentence is 2 years 6months hes already done 3 months since jan. Any idea?
kiran - 24-Apr-17 @ 12:54 PM
C1475 - Your Question:
My partner is serving a life sentence and has had his parole two weeks ago today he should here any day, I am worried because I haven't heard from him since Saturday and he was due to return to work today as he is in a d cat, I haven't heard from him and his phone is off I have called the prison and spoken To the Chaplin as I am concerned he has received bad news, how do I find out if he ok he always rings me when he is on his way to work this is not like him.

Our Response:
You've done what you can really. You've not told us what the prison or chaplain have said so we can't advise further.
AboutHumanRights - 21-Apr-17 @ 10:54 AM
Miss p - Your Question:
My son has been in a prison which is really bad.gangs hang together and threat my son he stays locked up in his cell 23 hrs a day all we have to keep him sane is to send him books,we are not visiting as he is in fear of my daughter in laws and my daughter his sister aged five safety!!! I'm at my wits end with worry.

Our Response:
Try the Offenders' families helpline for advice on the best way to approach this. You will be able to give them more information about the prison he's in and what for etc.
AboutHumanRights - 20-Apr-17 @ 11:38 AM
Beth- Your Question:
My boyfriend is currently in prison an I am due to give birth in 4 weeks. When I go into labour an contact the prison will they pass on the message to him that I've gone into labour? Or will I be told they can't pass on messages?! #worried

Our Response:
They should be able to pass on a message for you about this.
AboutHumanRights - 20-Apr-17 @ 11:34 AM
My partner is serving a life sentence and has had his parole two weeks ago today he should here any day, I am worried because I haven't heard from him since Saturday and he was due to return to work today as he is in a d cat, I haven't heard from him and his phone is off I have called the prison and spokenTo the Chaplin as I am concerned he has received bad news, how do I find out if he ok he always rings me when he is on his way to work this is not like him.
C1475 - 18-Apr-17 @ 3:36 PM
My son has been in a prison which is really bad...gangs hang together and threat my son he stays locked up in his cell 23 hrs a day all we have to keep him sane is to send him books,we are not visiting as he is in fear of my daughter in laws and my daughter his sister aged five safety!!! I'm at my wits end with worry.
Miss p - 17-Apr-17 @ 4:16 PM
My boyfriend is currently in prison an I am due to give birth in 4 weeks. When I go into labour an contact the prison will they pass on the message to him that I've gone into labour? Or will I be told they can't pass on messages?! #worried
Beth - 17-Apr-17 @ 2:31 PM
Sophie - Your Question:
Hi, my brother has recently been moved to a different prison. I am not comfortable with how the prison treats them. He hasnt been able to call as they still havent sorted his pin. ( its been a month now) They don't supply them a pillow, you have to buy it. he rests his head on a rolled up sheet. They give them a sheet to cover themselves with. there is nothing separating the toilet and the beds and what bothers me most is thry are locked up for 23 hours a day over the weekend. and arnt even allowed exercise? How can that be ? This is a cat c prison. someone plase advise. I want to make a complaint Sophie

Our Response:
The easiest thing to do is to write to the prison governor asking about this. You can also contact Offenders' Families or the Prisoner's Advice Service
AboutHumanRights - 10-Apr-17 @ 2:18 PM
Hi, my brother has recently been moved to a different prison. I am not comfortable with how the prison treats them. He hasnt been able to call as they still havent sorted his pin .... ( its been a month now) They don'tsupply them a pillow, you have to buy it. he rests his head on a rolled up sheet. They give them a sheet to cover themselves with .... there is nothing separating the toilet and the beds and what bothers me most is thry are locked up for 23 hours a day over the weekend .... and arnt even allowed exercise? How can that be ? This is a cat c prison .... someone plase advise ... I want to make a complaint Sophie
Sophie - 7-Apr-17 @ 10:27 PM
Jazza - Your Question:
Hi can anybody help My ex boyfriend is in jail he's on remand till October but there was a lass involved in the murder to and she's on remand toCan they write to each other in jail or not? Iv been told there writing to each other but surly they arnt aloud due to both getting charged with the murder

Our Response:
If he's already been convicted and ison remand awaiting sentence - this might not be an issue. Contact before trial is not usually allowed. The prison officers will "vet" all mail anyway.
AboutHumanRights - 7-Apr-17 @ 11:59 AM
Yabinty- Your Question:
My son has been sentenced to 27mths in prison but I don't know what prison he has been sent too and nobody will tell me. Iv contacted the police station the court his solicitors and the local prison and nobody can tell me anything. Is there anyway of finding out where he is.

Our Response:
You might be able to get help via the Offenders' Families Helpline or the Prison Advice and Care Trust
AboutHumanRights - 6-Apr-17 @ 2:24 PM
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