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Serving a Prison Sentence: Prisoner's Rights

By: Liz Lennox - Updated: 18 Mar 2019 | 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.


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.


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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Hi I need help my son has been found guilty to a crime he did not do just wrong place wrong time and is looking at 15.20 years it’s so wrong
Sarahit - 14-Mar-19 @ 11:46 AM
I was in prison for year too long can i claim for that
Maddy - 27-Feb-19 @ 3:21 AM
My boyfriend is on remand in Wandsworth for breach of injunction I'm told because of charge he isn't allowed a pin for the phone so have had no contact... worried sick. Is this not breach of human rights? Also using email a prisoner I have send many and had no response after 4 days... is this right? I'm so worried and confused never been in this situation before! Any advice would be appreciated
Char - 23-Feb-19 @ 8:29 AM
My son has just served 7 n half. 2 days before his realise they video linked him n given him another 24 months?I live in Scotland n he is in Doncaster. Havnt seen him n mega months even yr.disabled.Won’t him in Scottish prison. Please help
DJ - 13-Jan-19 @ 4:26 AM
My son’s release date should of been 4th December 2018,he was released early on tag in July.He was arrested while on tag and recalled in October but with no charges.It has now been over 3 months and still no release date and no parole hearing.
Sandra - 10-Jan-19 @ 11:47 AM
Hi my partner is currently on remand to which he has been since 9th Aug 2018 he had a trial date set for 21jan2019 but has been informed by another inmate on the same charges and case as him that the trial date has been changed to Sep 2019 I was just wondering if anyone knew how long you can be kept held on remand? Thank you
Loulou - 10-Jan-19 @ 9:47 AM
My boyfriend was convicted on the 11/12/18 at guildford crown court for a crime he did not comitt. Now just started a six year sentence I have a few questions if anyone knows the answer to them or advise me on it. 1. How soon can he call or write to me. 2.how can I locate what prison he's in. 3. How soon will I be able to visit him. Thanks Lizzie
Lizzie - 14-Dec-18 @ 8:53 AM
My son was convicted 8yrs ago on joint enterprise. He was also charged with another conviction which he did not commit and he was not charged for. Due to the second charge he in now an A cat and has been for the last 8 years. How can he get off this A cat as he was not convicted for the crime that put him in this categorisation. Plse give info for this
Sammi - 8-Dec-18 @ 7:16 PM
My partner has been convicted of dangerous driving, has been moved into a other prison but they know his coming out what does he have to do now? Wait or what? It's so stupid they have done this, I am worrying about him he doesn't like it in here they are nasty to him and me even when I book a visit their attitude stinks! Also my partner was put on basic for defending himself because a troubled guy tried to stab him! What is this world coming to! I keep on fighting for him! #judgemental people today #
WorriedGirlfriend - 13-Nov-18 @ 4:13 PM
my son has been on remand for one month my main concern is he's had no contact with his solicitor in that time,so he is unable to prepare his defense. the solicitor says they have been unable to get a visit to see him,my understanding is a solicitor has a right to see his client by law.it also is my sons human right to have visits/contact with his solicitor.would i be wrong in thinking my sons rights have be violated,why would his solicitor say they where unable to get a visit
linda - 11-Nov-18 @ 10:28 AM
My son was convicted to 10years and need to 6 due to committed a crime of self-defense. Someone when to stab him and he self-defend. So the court put him in category A to B but the prison still holding him and classify him as A. They alway decline the family to visit him. He can not call his younger brother . The guards aretreting him bad. I don’t know what to do to help him.
Luxe - 24-Oct-18 @ 9:45 AM
My boyfriend had court today in doncaster but i live i dagenham and he orginally is from dagenham he been in and out of jail all hes life hes 24 and never been to a jail up their always gone pentonvilee ir cookham wood when he was younger was just wondering if if he gets sentenced does anyone knkw when he would be aloud to contact me ...
Kobie - 22-Oct-18 @ 2:47 PM
Hello, my dad had an 18 year sentence in 2006 and has done 12 years, 6 more years to go. He is in a Cat C prison. When will he be able to move to Cat D?
WorriedDaughter - 3-Oct-18 @ 5:44 PM
My son has been in prison for 10 years and he was suppose to go to a D cat prison yesterday. He got all his belongings together and said good bye to his inmates and officers then waited in a cell day looking out of the window anxious and excited about leaving when eventually was told the van had left without him. They forgot him. I am not sure what is happening and i wonder what happens next?
worriedmum - 20-Sep-18 @ 10:17 AM
Tag on release to the question asked- You can only ever get a tag if you are serving under 4 years as a sentence.Perhaps 3 months before release date.If the original sentence was more than 4 years he will not be released on tag.
Cc - 18-Sep-18 @ 2:06 AM
My partner has been recalled for getting arrested for threatening and abusive behaviour towards me. Court case is next month. He has been in prison for 12 days and I've heard nothing from him. I don't even know where he is. I've emailed find a prisoner but heard nothing. I'm worried that he won't be allowed to contact me at all as I'm a witness at the court trial.
Fionag - 17-Sep-18 @ 8:16 PM
Loz it depends which prison he is in. My partners in armley and didn't receive a pin for 3 weeks and they never rung me to verify the phone number. And he has only just received my first letter I sent 6 weeks ago. Email a prisoner is much faster.
Zoz - 13-Sep-18 @ 2:39 PM
my boyfriend got sent to jail 9 days ago theSaturday Monday was the bank hoilday I haven't heard a word of him I sent a letter which he would have got wednesday with my number on I still haven't had anyone ring me to verify the number does anybody no how long this takes to have your number verified by the prison
loz - 3-Sep-18 @ 8:32 PM
Please can any one help !! What’s the likely hood of partner being on tag before his actual release date.?? How long can you be on tag for ??
Cassie - 3-Sep-18 @ 4:01 PM
My husband was arrested for assault and criminal damage towards me. He has been remanded waiting for trail. I have sent him letters but no response.Is he allowed to contact me or send letters to me even though I am the victim . I want to drop the charges and want him to get professional help as he suffers fro bipolar.
Subee - 1-Sep-18 @ 1:11 PM
My son's probation officer said that my son can get tagged on his early release date she gave us the date and now the prison has turned it down I am very upset with this ok he has done 14 months he now has to complete another 4 months in prison he could have been tagged according to his probation officer we had a hhome visit and she even telephoned me to confirm his release date, why do the prison service messed with oour heads it it worth writing a letter to someone about how my family and my son has been treated its like giving a child a toy then taking it away from them :-(
mumzey - 28-Aug-18 @ 4:08 PM
My partner was arrested Friday for D V this may sound cliche but it wasn't him! It was a cry for help he has a lot going on and I know he never ever wanted to hurt me. Drink was involved he has recently lost his mum. Everything just come to blows. He was arrested then kept in custody and charged with gbh and criminal damage. against myself was refused bail, and then sent to prison on remand. I had on the Saturday withdrew my statement from police before all of this because I wanted to get him the help he needed. He has the option tomorrow to apply for bail but not sure If he would get it. But then crown court isn't until 8th August. Am I allowed to contact him? Or visit?
Billie - 11-Jul-18 @ 12:05 AM
Hey my friend is in prison and we had an argument and now he's blocked my number can this ever be fixed thanks.
Angel - 15-Jun-18 @ 1:38 AM
Hi there Could someone please help me. My partner was taken on remand to a prison pending trial in June . I’m trying to exhaust every avenue to help his case with character references etc . Is there anything else that I can do from the outside to help his case and bring him home to me. He made a silly mistake and is now paying for it . Like everyone else I can easily say he isn’t a bad lad and never in trouble but that’s a perfect life . We are all human we all make mistakes and learn from them . Any help will be greatfully appreciated .
Sam - 27-May-18 @ 3:08 PM
Is it usual for a prisoner serving life( a minimum of15 years) be denied to attend fathers funeral?
Bee - 2-May-18 @ 4:18 PM
My partner breached probabtion in 2016 and has been sent down this week for 16 weeks 8 on good behaviour however we havnt heared anything from him other than which prision he is in how am i suposed to find out his prison number and is there any chance hed get out before he 8 weeks im due with his first child in 2 weeks just want him to be able to have as much contact as possable.
S - 26-Apr-18 @ 10:38 AM
Hello can anyone help me I want to have contact with my boyfriend in prison but I am the victim and I’m pregnant but want to see him is there anyway of having the restrictions lifted at all????
S - 23-Apr-18 @ 9:20 AM
Hi my boyfriend got 12 weeks and he said he probz do 3 and rest on licence is it right? Just through 2 missed appointments at probation. And he rang the day after he went in on the emergency credit and said hed ring me at 2.30 fri or sat and hasnt a dont no when canteen day is for him or if he had money a tried to book a visit am not on his visiting list. He said he was locked up 23hour a day could tht be the reason he aint rang me? And hes in armley can you ring anyday tho?
loopy - 14-Apr-18 @ 7:35 PM
Hi .my son has been sentenced. The prisonwant to move him . But the prison they are moving him to , his life will be at threat . I'm so worried for him . Is there anything he can do to stop this move to this prison .
J9 - 13-Apr-18 @ 4:35 PM
My son has a three yr sentence never been in trouble in his life he is 36 He's been in jail for 4 weeks when will he be sent to an open prison
Denny - 11-Apr-18 @ 7:44 PM
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