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Serving a Prison Sentence: Prisoner's Rights

By: Liz Lennox - Updated: 23 Jul 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 is currently servicing a 10 year prison sentence. We are 3 years in meaning he only has 2 left to serve. He has been a excellent prisoner. Been gym orderly, captain of the football team playing outside teams, has great reports from prison staff and now works as a very trusted role on the mental health ward. He only has two years left. Meaning usuall he would be a cat b prisoner. Yet the prison have just recategorised him as category b!! And now the governor isn't responding to any letters or legal letters asking to explain why. How can they do this.
Nclarke - 23-Jul-17 @ 8:14 PM
My husband is at Wandsworth prison for 10 days. He called me when he arrived but since then he didn't called me. He has money in his account . It's 11 days already and I'm getting worried
mia - 22-Jul-17 @ 10:17 AM
sal - Your Question:
My son is currently on remand pending being sentenced.hes 19 years old with adhd and functioning at an age of a 9-12 year old.hes currently self harming.hes being bullied.i often hear this when he rings home.iv left numerous messages and spoken to the prision and made a complaint to ministry of justice yet the bullying is still continuing.what can I do?he is very valunerable and isn't being cared for on a vp wing

Our Response:
Can you try contacting the Offenders' Families Helpline or the Family Rights Group Helpline for some individual help?
AboutHumanRights - 5-Jul-17 @ 10:24 AM
my son is currently on remand pending being sentenced.hes 19 years old with adhd and functioning at an age of a 9-12 year old.hes currently self harming.hes being bullied.i often hear this when he rings home.iv left numerous messages and spoken to the prision and made a complaint to ministry of justice yet the bullying is still continuing.what can I do?he is very valunerable and isn't being cared for on a vp wing
sal - 4-Jul-17 @ 10:25 AM
Cathy - Your Question:
My 16 year old son was sentenced to 4 months in prison yesterday morning , I was informed then not heard anything else , I don't know where he is how he is or heard off him ?

Our Response:
His solicitor should be able to tell you where he is. He will also be able to contact you once he has been registered etc. You can also try the Offenders' families helpline
AboutHumanRights - 27-Jun-17 @ 9:38 AM
My 16 year old son was sentenced to 4 months in prison yesterday morning , I was informed then not heard anything else , I don't know where he is how he is or heard off him ?
Cathy - 24-Jun-17 @ 6:38 AM
Kaz- Your Question:
Need advice my partner is in prision on a Abh charge against me not for the first time but this time the prison has told him not to contact me are they allowed to do that

Our Response:
Yes if the ABH was against you, they may consider it as better for your safety if he doesn't contact you.
AboutHumanRights - 23-Jun-17 @ 10:18 AM
Need advice my partner is in prision on a Abh charge against me not for the first time but this time the prison has told him not to contact me are they allowed to do that
Kaz - 22-Jun-17 @ 3:55 AM
My Brother was sentenced to 12 months in January after being on remand since November. He lived in Clacton would he have been in Clemsford prison and how do we contact him as he hasn't been in contact since his arrest.Would he have now been released? How do we find him? Thank you
Srob - 20-Jun-17 @ 4:13 PM
Han - Your Question:
My boyfriend was arrested last year in November. then told charges were dropped for further enquiries. We've heard nothing ! Until yesterday they came to Summons him to court for intent to supply 2.5 grams of cocaine. Since his arrest he's got himself a job, turned his life around & im pregnant. What should I do ?

Our Response:
His solicitor should be able to present the details of his "reformed" character and actions to demonstrate this in court. There's nothing you can do really to help in this situation.
AboutHumanRights - 20-Jun-17 @ 12:59 PM
My boyfriend was arrested last year in November.. then told charges were dropped for further enquiries. We've heard nothing ! Until yesterday they came to Summons him to court for intent to supply 2.5 grams of cocaine. Since his arrest he's got himself a job, turned his life around & im pregnant. What should I do ?
Han - 18-Jun-17 @ 2:58 PM
Daz - Your Question:
My son is missing how can I find out if he is in Chelmsford prison please help

Our Response:
How old is he? Will the police help? Are you next of kin?
AboutHumanRights - 15-Jun-17 @ 11:48 AM
I gotremanded in Armley prison for harassment .when I got there I was told to give them my emergency phone numbers and I did not get a phone call or ever had a phone pin given to me. 10 days with no contact to my family is this a violation of my human rights.
Cookie - 14-Jun-17 @ 4:22 PM
My son is missing how can I find out if he is in Chelmsford prison please help
Daz - 12-Jun-17 @ 12:15 PM
My daughter is on remand in a closed prison.Today she rang me very distraught,she was stripped searched for drugs,she has never used drugs.The prison has taken away her job in the gardens and stopped her education,which means no money for canteen.Is this sort of thing allowed?.No drugs were found on her or in her cell.Worried as she has self harmed while in there.Her behaviour etc has been excellent in the 3months she's been on remand there.
Lilly - 8-Jun-17 @ 2:05 PM
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
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