Home > Law & Enforcement > Serving a Prison Sentence: Prisoner's Rights

Serving a Prison Sentence: Prisoner's Rights

By: Liz Lennox - Updated: 11 Jul 2018 | 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.

You might also like...
Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice..
[Add a Comment]
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
Hi is it possible to find out what exactly my partner is in trouble for whilst being inside? I don’t mean his conviction, I mean whilst he’s in there.Come’s down to trust but I’d be a fool to put my life on hold for eight years if I was being lied to. My validate word is MUG & that I’m not ha
Sam - 5-Apr-18 @ 8:53 PM
My bf got 7yrs4mths and is due for release June 2019 he struggles with courses and has asked many times for one to one tuition and has been refused he has a good job in prison but hasn’t done any courses he is currently at wymott and is hoping to get his cat d in June but is worried he won’t get it can he be refused because he hasn’t done any courses
Lynniepoo - 1-Apr-18 @ 9:59 PM
It is possible the emails Ive sent my bf havent been recieved due to misconduct or if his prison number has some how changed? He normally replies within a few days so just wanted info on this please
Hab77 - 30-Mar-18 @ 1:34 PM
Hi my boyfriend was up at Leeds court Wednesday 28th march 2018 and they give him 6 weeks in jail I don't kno what prison he is in and a don't kno his prison number at all and iv wrote his letter but I don't kno what prison he is in and it one of those he dint get chance to get anyone number as he got arrested from home he did the day before and they took him straigh court on the Wednesday I ain't spoke two him and I'm worried I want to send him some money as well can you let me kno asap thanks
nats - 30-Mar-18 @ 10:38 AM
hello, my name is David West, my brotherdid 23 years in the Wisconsinprison.He is up for parole in 2019, the warden and co has repeatedly denied my brother work in the prison, and refuse to offer him an explanation. He has worked his way thru the chain of command, to no prevail. He and friend has reached out to me, what can i do as a family member?
soop - 27-Mar-18 @ 4:35 AM
Hi, can someone please tell me how to go about getting restrictions lifted so that my partner can contact me?We have a child that misses her daddy and the restrictions were put on against my wishes, which should not be allowed.I am his only point of contact, the only person that would visit. Surely they cant do this
L - 24-Mar-18 @ 7:03 AM
Hi, can someone please tell me how to go about getting restrictions lifted so that my partner can contact me?We have a child that misses her daddy
L - 23-Mar-18 @ 9:54 PM
Camilla28 - Your Question:
Hi,I want to send a letter to my partner at thameside. He wont know my number as its kind of new and I have no stable address he can write to.If I send a letter without the prison number.just his full name.will he recieve it.I need to also send money. The prison have not picked up the phone all day.Thank you

Our Response:
Yes you can send a letter to the following address
Address: Griffin Manor Way
Thamesmead
London
SE28 0FJ
To send money, here'ssome more information
AboutHumanRights - 14-Mar-18 @ 10:41 AM
My son was given his dates to come out of Bedford prisontoday but was told his been given a year on his sentence but he don't no why his solicitor don't no why either help please
Mags - 13-Mar-18 @ 2:57 PM
Hi, I want to send a letter to my partner at thameside. He wont know my number as its kind of new and i have no stable address he can write to. If i send a letter without the prison number.just his full name.will he recieve it. I need to also send money. The prison have not picked up the phone all day. Thank you
Camilla28 - 13-Mar-18 @ 1:11 AM
Jules - Your Question:
Please can some tell me if it legal.for the prison system to deduct all the money I send in for my son and leave him just a couple of pounds as he owes 112.94 for previous cell Damage is this legal I visit my son and it breaks my heart to see and hear him tell me he has nothing but a phone card which he uses to contact his partner This cannot be legal

Our Response:
As long as he is being provided for according to his rights, the prison should be able to reclaim money for damage he's caused.
AboutHumanRights - 9-Mar-18 @ 2:31 PM
Please can some tell me if it legal.for the prison system to deduct all the money I send in for my son and leave him just a couple of pounds as he owes 112.94 for previous cell Damage is this legal I visit my son and it breaks my heart to see and hear him tell me he has nothing but a phone card which he uses to contact his partner This cannot be legal
Jules - 8-Mar-18 @ 5:17 PM
My son is in a Cat A prison but he’s not done a Cat A crime which he doesn’t mind as the prison isn’t to bad at the minute, how ever they are talking about moving him to a far away Cat C prison which is awful he’s more vulnerable etc and it’s going to be so hard for anyone to get to him... the question is, if he refuses to be moved can that affect his tag and his tag release date, can anyone tell me or tell me who I need to ask please. Thank you x
Worriedmum - 2-Mar-18 @ 4:26 PM
My sons been at long lartin for 10 months had no clothes whatsoever he got a app off given or for parcel of clothes I saved up got him clothes and payed a lot for delivery, for them to return them to me he has become really distressed because there telling him one thing and doing another sury this is wrong!!x
Shell - 22-Feb-18 @ 11:23 PM
Hi my nephew is in hull hes been in a week and has not made a phone call but only letter why has he not been allowed a phoje call ?
Elizabeth Lockwood - 20-Feb-18 @ 9:50 PM
Hi: My brother is in Manchester Prison. for the last FOUR weeks they have not had hot water. Seems no one really cares about the prisoner's, becaue they are prisoner's. This is buse and neglect in its lowest form. Despite their current residence, they DO have rights. Why has this been allowed to continue for so long. You have had numerous people write on here bringing up the extended issue of NO hot water in the prison. Interestingly in 2 seperate prisons. What is going on? I don't believe for 1 second that the water happened to go out at the same time in 2 different prisons. What is this? An attempt to save money at the expense of the prisoner's personl hygiene? Something is not right with this situation. You have a prison full of guys and NO hot water. This is inhumane and unusual punishment. I can't believe for one second that there is any good reason, other than lack of care and concern for the prisoners, why this has been allowed ot continue for 4 weeks or more.Writing to the governor proves to be fruitless, and never any response, they simply lie nd pretend they had no knowledge. We constantly hear negative reports of prisoners, yet, no one want's to acknowledge the HUGE pink elephant in the room. THE PRISON SYSTEM IS BROKE...LITERALLY. Absent any shame, which I think is relied upon, in order to keep prisoners quiet, this needs to be made public. Ther is absolutely NO excuse why this has continued for more than 30 days..... Ridiculous!Im sure the governor9s) respond to the outcry. Prisoner's have family that love them, and the fact that they are prisoner's do not change that Fact. The shame is on England and its terrible inhumane conditions. Maybe it is time to put the spotlight on what is relly going on inside these delapidated walls. I am going to the media, perhaps then it will be taken seriously and all those working in this less than stellar judicial system will be reminded of something frequently forgotten. Prisoner's have Rights, Rights, that are consistently denied, ignored and mocked.
PrisonerRights - 14-Feb-18 @ 10:02 AM
Alli- Your Question:
Hi I’m wondering if anybody can confirm and validate the prisoners rights concerning visits. My partner over the past 10 months since sentencing has been moved further and further away. I understand this is how it works but due to the expense of travel I’d also have accommodation cost and I’m not entitled to any any help with costs. I’ve not seen him for 6 months. He’s just been moved to HMP Liverpool. I’ve heard nothing from him which is very out of character. During this 10 month period many apps have been made to try and stay within reasonable distance but this has not been the case. To my understanding if a prisoner has not had a visit for a period of time it’s in his rights to have a 6 week move closer to home. If anyone can shed some information on what steps I can take to do this it would be very much appreciated.

Our Response:
Prisoners are legally entitled to "contact family and loved ones, either via prison visits or over the phone and can write letters to whomever they choose once a week (as long as the letter adheres to certain rules and the recipient is approved by the prison governor.)"
AboutHumanRights - 6-Feb-18 @ 3:24 PM
Hi I’m wondering if anybody can confirm and validate the prisoners rights concerning visits. My partner over the past 10 months since sentencing has been moved further and further away. I understand this is how it works but due to the expense of travel I’d also have accommodation cost and I’m not entitled to any any help with costs. I’ve not seen him for 6 months. He’s just been moved to HMP Liverpool. I’ve heard nothing from him which is very out of character. During this 10 month period many apps have been made to try and stay within reasonable distance but this has not been the case. To my understanding if a prisoner has not had a visit for a period of time it’s in his rights to have a 6 week move closer to home. If anyone can shed some information on what steps I can take to do this it would be very much appreciated.
Alli - 6-Feb-18 @ 11:23 AM
My partner was sentenced to 9 years in prison he a EU national he says he has a review for cat D does that mean he will not get deported?
Catherine - 2-Feb-18 @ 8:41 PM
Hello, I have relative who is currently over 500 miles away from home and hasn't had a visit in over 20 years. Each time someone comes to visit he is unable to be seen for some reason or another.The family travels from Wisconsin to Florida to visit him and we are not allowed.We were told by our state representative that he shouldn't be that far away from home and we have petitioned three times to have him brought closer to home but the warden keeps denying him.He was diagnosed with prostate cancer and has over three hernia surgeries he has been locked up for over 26 years and the past 20 years we have not been able to see him for one reason or another. We sent in tons of letters of concerns. He is in Coleman Medium and he shouldn't be there. He currently has no health issues. The doctor that botched up his prostate surgery in California followed him down to Florida is trying to force him to do another surgery and he is scared to death.Can someone please help?
Jo - 12-Jan-18 @ 10:47 PM
InmateMrs - Your Question:
My partner is being denied his prescribed medications to help with chronic pain are they allowed to do this. He has shown evidence of his prescriptions and the GP has sent all the medical information to the prison. He has already been rushed to hospital due to not receiving his medication he has put in multiple applications to see a doctor and was told “why do you need to see a doctor you have just come out of hospital” and was denied access to a doctorHe suffers from multiple problems and is under specialists in the community which he has provided proof, the prison have cancelled some of his hospital appointments and failed to take him to a two week cancer referral appointment. Is this against his human rights?

Our Response:
The general principle for prisoners relating to this, according to the United Nations, is that "Prisoners shall have access to the health services available in the country without discrimination on the grounds of their legal situation"
The Families Outside organisation offers some help and advice on this.
AboutHumanRights - 12-Jan-18 @ 12:51 PM
Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice...
Title:
(never shown)
Firstname:
(never shown)
Surname:
(never shown)
Email:
(never shown)
Nickname:
(shown)
Comment:
Validate:
Enter word:
Topics
Latest Comments
Further Reading...
Our Most Popular...
Add to my Yahoo!
Add to Google
Stumble this
Add to Twitter
Add To Facebook
RSS feed
You should seek independent professional advice before acting upon any information on the AboutHumanRights website. Please read our Disclaimer.