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Serving a Prison Sentence: Prisoner's Rights

By: Liz Lennox - Updated: 26 Mar 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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[Add a Comment]
Louise - Your Question:
Hi my boyfriend was sentenced to 8 months and has to serve 4 months. He has been put in a category A prison. His crime does not reflect being in a category A. I fear for his safety as he has been put on a wing and says he feels unable to use the shower and phone as the other prisoners are intimidating him. He has never hurt anyone or intented on hurting anyone. Is there anyway I can help get him move to a more suitable category prison

Our Response:
The Prison Act 1952 states that prisoners can be held in any prison. Prisons do have an obligation tokeep prisoners safe and the governor can decide whether they need to be transferred. As a prisoner, your boyfriend can request a transfer through the request/complaints system (sometimes there is a specialtransfer request form provided by the prison). A transfer will only usually be considered after a few months have been served. While the transfer request must be made by your boyfriend, the family can write to the governor giving their reasons as to why they feel the transfer should be made.
AboutHumanRights - 28-Mar-17 @ 10:52 AM
Rebecca- Your Question:
Hi. My brother is currently serving a 5 year sentence in prison however his health has seriously deteriorated since his conviction. A doctor has told him that he has a very low body fat, he's beginning to faint, feeling nauseous and weak etc. Although the treatment for this is a specialised diet with high fat and calorie content he has received no support in this manner whatsoever and is continuing to deteriorate. Doctors have warned that this is very dangerous to his health, its is affecting his heart and if its not treated quickly will cause a heart attack. Is this neglect? I am unsure how to proceed as he is feeling very ill but nothing is being done to help. Surely this is against his human rights?

Our Response:
If doctors have warned about this, have they spoken to the prison management? What was the response? Have you had a chance to speak directly to medical staff who've treated him so far? Have you spoken to prison staff? What was the reponse? Sorry but there's not much information here.
AboutHumanRights - 27-Mar-17 @ 11:44 AM
Hi my boyfriend was sentenced to 8 months and has to serve 4 months. He has been put in a category A prison. His crime does not reflect being in a category A. I fear for his safety as he has been put on a wing and says he feels unable to use the shower and phone as the other prisoners are intimidating him. He has never hurt anyone or intented on hurting anyone. Is there anyway I can help get him move to a more suitable category prison
Louise - 26-Mar-17 @ 3:52 PM
Hi. My brother is currently serving a 5 year sentence in prison however his health has seriously deteriorated since his conviction. A doctor has told him that he has a very low body fat, he's beginning to faint, feeling nauseous and weak etc. Although the treatment for this is a specialised diet with high fat and calorie content he has received no support in this manner whatsoever and is continuing to deteriorate. Doctors have warned that this is very dangerous to his health, its is affecting his heart and if its not treated quickly will cause a heart attack. Is this neglect? I am unsure how to proceed as he is feeling very ill but nothing is being done to help. Surely this is against his human rights?
Rebecca - 25-Mar-17 @ 2:31 PM
Hi my boyfreind was sentened to 18 weeks in prison will he do all of that sentence in prison im being left in the dark its not fair i have mental health issues and as he is away i cant sleep knowing he is ok im scared he wont come bk out he has a alchol problem gets bad DTs please someone help me
Nat - 23-Mar-17 @ 12:47 PM
hi my partner just had 16 weels sentance will they half it
georgia - 20-Mar-17 @ 5:12 PM
Amberrose - Your Question:
Hi there, my brother has been remanded in prison custody and has been there just under two weeks. It is about time he has to get put on a wing but he can't be put on a particular wing/s as he is from a certain area of the country than the most men on the wing that they want to put him on and he has expressed this concern to the cusotdy officer and is in fear of moving due to being assulted by the males of those particular wings. He is being told if he refuses to move (which he hasn't done) he will recieve a nicking. He hasn't refused he just wants to know that when he moves he will be safe and wants to prevent any harm that may come as a result of being place on these particular wings. Is this treated as neglect of the prisons duty of care to an inmate? Or is this a breach to his human rights; protection of the body and respect of dignity? Could you please give me some advice as I dont know how to help him or what to say to him in terms of how to deal with this, I just feel he isn't being dealt with fairly, especially as he's only on remand and hasn't been convicted as I know they treat convicted inmates much more strict. Kind regards.

Our Response:
How does he know he will be treated this way by the other inmates? Prison officers know which prisoners are on remand and which have been convicted. Have you spoken to the prison governor? Try the Offenders Families group (linked in the response below) for more help and advice if needed.
AboutHumanRights - 15-Mar-17 @ 12:32 PM
antonyswife - Your Question:
Hi my partner isn't receiving anything I'm sending money letters cards or pictures of our child whyou is this I'm receiving his letters though I'm really upset and been 17 week pregnant with his baby isn't helping

Our Response:
Contact the prison governor to question this. You could also try the Offenders' Families Helpline
AboutHumanRights - 14-Mar-17 @ 11:08 AM
Hi there, my brother has been remanded in prison custody and has been there just under two weeks. It is about time he has to get put on a wing but he can't be put on a particular wing/s as he is from a certain area of the country than the most men on the wing that they want to put him on and he has expressed this concern to the cusotdy officer and is in fear of moving due to being assulted by the males of those particular wings. He is being told if he refuses to move (which he hasn't done) he will recieve a nicking. He hasn't refused he just wants to know that when he moves he will be safe and wants to prevent any harm that may come as a result of being place on these particular wings. Is this treated as neglect of the prisons duty of care to an inmate? Or is this a breach to his human rights; protection of the body and respect of dignity? Could you please give me some advice as I dont know how to help him or what to say to him in terms of how to deal with this, I just feel he isn't being dealt with fairly, especially as he's only on remand and hasn't been convicted as I know they treat convicted inmates much more strict. Kind regards.
Amberrose - 13-Mar-17 @ 2:26 PM
Hi my son was sentenced to 12 days in prison he was let out after 3 days .while in jail he was being treatedfor drink withdrawal he had newphmonia 12 days priorto going to jail when he was relised he had irratic behaviorand the police were called he was dead 12 hours later found in a forest wooded area in durham WHY surely he had infection he lived in cumbria his toxoligy report came bk no drink no drugs police saying natural causes can any body help
Lolly - 13-Mar-17 @ 9:55 AM
Hi my partner isn't receiving anything I'm sending money letters cards or pictures of our child whyou is this I'm receiving his letters though I'm really upset and been 17 week pregnant with his baby isn't helping
antonyswife - 11-Mar-17 @ 12:44 PM
Ok thank you. Also can they be released on good behaviour? And what is a assesment that prisoners have in prison.
kez - 3-Mar-17 @ 2:46 PM
kiran - Your Question:
My boyfriend got sentenced 2 years and 6 months I know he wil b doing a year only and rest on community license. Does any know if I can reduce his sentence by paying if yes how much.any way to pay a full amount to get out of prison.

Our Response:
No, you can't pay to reduce a prison sentence.
AboutHumanRights - 3-Mar-17 @ 11:53 AM
My boyfriend got sentenced 2 years and 6 months i know he wil b doing a year only and rest on community license. Does any know if i can reduce his sentence by paying if yes how much.any way to pay a full amount to get out of prison.
kiran - 1-Mar-17 @ 4:15 PM
Jod - Your Question:
Hi my partner got three years and six months and has served 22 month on remand will he be released now or when

Our Response:
We really don't know this dependswhether he gets early parole etc. The remand period will usually be taken into account so the 22 months may be considered to have already been served.
AboutHumanRights - 28-Feb-17 @ 9:46 AM
My fiancee was released on the 10th of January but he is still in prison rightI am worried what is keeping him inside because a day after tommorow its March 2017
asizwe - 27-Feb-17 @ 9:07 PM
Hi my partner got three years and six months and has served 22 month on remand will he be released now or when
Jod - 26-Feb-17 @ 9:15 AM
Not heard from partner in over a week. Never happened in whole two years. If he's in block for some reason he's clearly been denied phone call. Always has money on pin and rings even if 10second phone call. Have rung prison and they huffed and puffed then eventually laughed and said nothing I can do. I know this is not like him and not off his own back. 3 of his friends also have my number on pin from when I was due to give birth and they have rang me on behalf of him before if he couldn't for some reason. Who and how can I gain access to just make sure he is ok. He also has sent a letter if unable to call and so I 200% know something is not right and someone isn't acting correctly.
Izzy1 - 23-Feb-17 @ 10:27 AM
Hi can anyone tell me how long it will take for my son to receive hes letter from me if it arrived at the prison yesterday many thanks.
Traceygirl - 16-Feb-17 @ 9:00 PM
Hi my boyfriend got 13 years how Long will he serve?..is it half? Or do they still go for parole?
Jess - 11-Feb-17 @ 3:07 PM
I have been told if I pay £3000 within 3 months my son's prisons sentence will be reduced from 18 months to 8 months. Is this common practice. Many thanks Mr Smit
anzio - 28-Jan-17 @ 10:00 AM
My sosn is a lifer as been down the block for months they keep telling him they are moving him on a daly basis is there a contact number so i can speak to someone to see if you can help in anyway
coco - 28-Jan-17 @ 8:51 AM
Reply for Leigh. Prison number may of changed but if you know the jail your partner gas been sent to then if you just put there name on the letter it should get to them. Hope this helps
leigh - 21-Jan-17 @ 5:48 PM
In response to woko Contact action for prisoners families immediately
Al - 20-Jan-17 @ 10:39 PM
What time are prisoners released from strangeways
Danaaron - 20-Jan-17 @ 11:29 AM
My partner is due to be released from strange ways today but so far have heard nothing ! What time do they release prisoners ? Anybody now please
Danava - 20-Jan-17 @ 11:28 AM
My son got 2 years on ppi he is now coming up to 9 years and still no release now the parole board said they are sending him to parkhurst miles away from family and his daughters, its so inhumane he never killed anybody just got into daft stuff because of drugs, hes completely reformed but the torture goes on, has he any rights that say he should stay near his children?? Pkease help us we dont know what to do to help him.
Woco - 14-Jan-17 @ 4:42 PM
My partner was recalled on Monday but not heard a thing yet, will his prison number be the same?
Leigh - 13-Jan-17 @ 8:31 PM
My husband was sent to prison on 12 Dec and I have not had any telephone contact with him at all . I am now in week 5 and still nothing he is still waiting for his numbers to be approved , I'm getting so frustrated be I need to hear his voice , what can I do
Lost - 11-Jan-17 @ 3:19 PM
My partners at Exeter prison and has been suffering with the symptoms of prostate cancer he's in real discomfort and can hardly go wee now it's really getting him down and us as a family. He has gone to the medical team there and they did a wee test but coz it came bk normal they said he's fine but he's clearly not. I've rang the jail myself and have got no where im so scared that coz it's been going on for so long and if it's cancer they didn't help when he first told them. He has untill this Xmas in side but I'm scared he won't be coming home.. He needs treatment regardless if it's cancer or not he's in pain.. And getting worse day by day has anyone got any advice for us please
Feath34 - 6-Jan-17 @ 10:54 AM
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