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Serving a Prison Sentence: Prisoner's Rights

By: Liz Lennox - Updated: 22 Nov 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]
I have a question my nephew was to be out on Parole In January but when he went for his hearing they gave him another year they say the prison are full. 10 inmates when in from of the Parole only one got to go home...why are they keeping this inmates In prison, if the prison are full.. you want them out In society but you don’t give them a chance .also Is there anyways we can request my nephew come home for a visit on New Years? Or even spent the day with us outside the prison
Bevey - 22-Nov-17 @ 3:08 PM
Hello. My son has returned to prison after 2.5 years in a mental health unit. He has called me almost daily saying that he is being victimised, that he has been unable to speak with mental health workers and that his complaints in regard to his vulnerability are being ignored. His paranoia is off the scale and he believes that he is going to be killed in prison therefore he is looking for ways to commit suicide first. There is no email contact at all for the prison and the phone is never answered. I cannot contact the governer because of this and have no idea what to do. Can you help?
PT - 21-Nov-17 @ 3:16 PM
Nick - Your Question:
Hi my nephew is currently on remand and he is being denied his creams for his eczema, he should also be having regular blood tests because of the cream he is in, this is also not happening, can the prison really deny these?

Our Response:
A prisoner should get the same healthcare and treatment in prison as anyone outside prison. He should make a complaint via the prison's complaint system. If it's not resolved then he could try referring it to the Prisons and Probation Ombudsman
AboutHumanRights - 21-Nov-17 @ 10:31 AM
Hi my nephew is currently on remand and he is being denied his creams for his eczema, he should also be having regular blood tests because of the cream he is in, this is also not happening, can the prison really deny these?
Nick - 20-Nov-17 @ 4:44 AM
Cot - Your Question:
Hi my partners been in jail for few months nw he's been left brain damage after is crash so he gets confused a lot of times I'm really worried about I'm nw as just got a phone call to say an officer an hit I'm an he's got black eye and stuff really worried coz he's ad bleed on brain an it mite cum bk if they dnt get it checked need help wot to do coz this is a joke thanks

Our Response:
If you have genuine concerns for your partner's safety, write to the prison governor requesting information about the incident and its medical effects. The Family Lives Organisation might be able to help you to find out information.
AboutHumanRights - 15-Nov-17 @ 2:10 PM
Hi my partners been in jail for few months nw he's been left brain damage after is crash so he gets confused a lot of times I'm really worried about I'm nw as just got a phone call to say an officer an hit I'm an he's got black eye and stuff really worried coz he's ad bleed on brain an it mite cum bk if they dnt get it checked need help wot to do coz this is a jokethanks
Cot - 14-Nov-17 @ 3:24 PM
my son's father has just been moved prisons, I have a visit booked for Friday will I still be able to go to his new prison? also how do I claim cost of travel back? he got compensation while inside, he said security have said h3 cannot send money out.. is this true?
leanne348 - 13-Nov-17 @ 2:55 AM
At the moment miss Lindsey Sharp is having munthey home visits and each time is bringing brugs back to the prison which I ding disgusting and this should not be napping and something needs done adoutvthis asap ivwoukd appreciate it if something can and will be done as if nothing gets done I have no opinion but to go to my local papers Bout this as its just taking the puss out of the hole system .thank you.
Linny - 11-Nov-17 @ 10:12 PM
My boyfriend and farther to my to baby's is in remand for supply of class a drug cocaine also for section 20 against my self would he be able to right a letter to me or say my name in letters to other people because it's me that has hat to press charges against him for it because of social survives his family are saying he wouldn't be aloud but I don't no
Katie - 11-Nov-17 @ 9:49 PM
Hi....my brother is on remind and it’s took me nearly 3 weeks to get a 1st visit wish I think was not right....he told me that there’s no hot water to wash or to have a showerjust cold water all the time and the light in his cell as not been working from the day he was in he’s ask get it fix but all they say I right...as for hygiene he says it’s like the old days slopping out .does he have prisoners rights cause I’ve look it up but can’t see anything about it thanks
Stu - 5-Nov-17 @ 9:30 PM
Me - Your Question:
My brother is in prison on remand and suicidal, he was already like this before he went to prison but has been there for 2 weeks and still hasnt got his antidepressant medication yes it takes time you would expect a week but 2 weeks and still none your taking the piss and will probably have a death on your conscience cos of it. Sees the medic regularly asks all the time for the script that has been approved by doctor where is the medication. Who do I complain to as it is against his human rights

Our Response:
Make a complaint to the prison governor first of all, bear in mind that if he sees a prison medic on a regular basis, there may be a reason why his medication has changed etc.
AboutHumanRights - 1-Nov-17 @ 3:23 PM
Char - Your Question:
Hi my partner is in prison for carrying an offensive weapon his probation rang me to ask if it was OK for him to come home to this address she also asked if there was any kidskids which there is will they let him come back or will they get social services involved?

Our Response:
We really don't know. They probably contacted you to find out more information so that they can make a fact-based decision.
AboutHumanRights - 1-Nov-17 @ 9:45 AM
Hi my partner is in prison for carrying an offensive weapon his probation rang me to ask if it was OK for him to come home to this address she also asked if there was any kidskids which there is will they let him come back or will they get social services involved?
Char - 1-Nov-17 @ 7:46 AM
My brother is in prison on remand and suicidal, he was already like this before he went to prison but has been there for 2 weeks and still hasnt got his antidepressant medication yes it takes time you would expect a week but 2 weeks and still none your taking the piss and will probably have a death on your conscience cos of it. Sees the medic regularly asks all the time for the script that has been approved by doctor where is the medication. Who do i complain to as it is against his human rights
Me - 31-Oct-17 @ 1:15 PM
Hi can yu please tell me my child is 17 years old and he was in a remand accomodation in a secure children’s home who gives his remand time back to him because the crown court are refusing to give him where he was senescenced thankyu
Tina - 13-Oct-17 @ 10:07 AM
My Nephew Is incarcerated last week he went In front of the Parole and they gave him another year. My question is why do they want to keep these inmate these inmate any longer in prison. My nephew has a family support. and he served his time and is ready to come home.. We were devastated when we herd the new. As a family member we are at the mercy of the Parole Board. We believe that my nephew Is ready to come home he has a strong support group. And I can bet my life on that he will not make another mistake, he has learn his lesson. What can we do to get homeor even into a program. Thank You
bevey - 10-Oct-17 @ 5:52 PM
My nephew was Involved In a fight In prison someone started a fight with him and he also was caught with a tattoo gun but those charges were drop but he was put In Solitary Confinement for two month for punishment.. he want In front of the Parole Board this week and they gave him another year In prison how does this happen and what can we do for him
Bevey - 9-Oct-17 @ 9:33 PM
Hi there my partner is in jail & he is realy I'll and he's being refused health care from all the staff in the prison and he has crones & he is not being give any of his medication is he intital to medical treatment?
Sar - 9-Oct-17 @ 1:38 AM
Sar - Your Question:
Hi there my husband is doing a 11year sentence and he now has 3years left to serve would he be able to get d cat with 3years left?

Our Response:
This depends what kind of crime he committed really. You can ask the prison governors what the plans are for the next 3 years.
AboutHumanRights - 26-Sep-17 @ 12:46 PM
Hi there my husband is doing a 11year sentence and he now has 3years left to serve would he be able to get d cat with 3years left?.
Sar - 24-Sep-17 @ 7:07 PM
My boyfriend is due for he tag on the 22nd of September however nobody has been to he's dads house to see if it's ok for him to stay there, he's dad rang he's probation and he's been told that she's gone on holiday for 3 weeks! Could he still get out?
Missmarie1987 - 16-Sep-17 @ 8:20 PM
Nicky - Your Question:
Hi my partner is in prison on remand 4 assault and criminal damage I booked a visit and then was told I cldnt go as the police have put a restriction on my name does anyone know how I can get this restriction taken off what I have to do.

Our Response:
Police can put restrictions on visits from certain people. This can include anyone under 18 and also anyone potentially involved in the case. More information might be obtained by phoning the Offenders' Families helpline
AboutHumanRights - 11-Sep-17 @ 12:33 PM
Hi my partner is in prison on remand 4 assault and criminal damage I booked a visit and then was told I cldnt go as the police have put a restriction on my name does anyone know how I can get this restriction taken off what I have to do.
Nicky - 9-Sep-17 @ 10:52 AM
My partner was sentanced to 3 years do half. Is that with the 33% off or will that come off his year and half ?
H - 1-Sep-17 @ 3:13 AM
My partner gets out of prison in 5 weeks time but still doesn't know if he's getting back into his own council house his social worker said he might not know until the day he gets out can they do this
Jack - 26-Aug-17 @ 12:34 PM
Hi I want to know if someone has not committed a crime and the taken to court for a crime. And the jury convicts the defendant guilty is this fair and how does a person prove he is not guilty I am talking about sexual assault just word against word. How does a innocent person prove himself infront of jury and how can the jury just decide in a few mins and why pick jury in this country I have realised this is the worse thing that could happen to someone where a innocent person is sentenced. Something needs to be done. It's disgusting.
Ash - 21-Aug-17 @ 10:22 AM
My friend has recently been moved to pentonville prison and he says that they are only being let out of their cell for 1 hour every 24 hours, Is this legal?
Sezzy - 12-Aug-17 @ 2:54 PM
KT - Your Question:
My partner was told on Fri he was being released on tag, after appealing the initial decision and making his case to come home in from of the panal, who agreed he could come home and it was also signed off by the Govoner, he also signed his license and it was agreed he would be released Tues morning (as the Mon was a holiday), we told our children on the Sunday and then at 2pm on the Mon afternoon he was told he couldn't be released until the victim had be informed and given 2 weeks to write back with how they would feel about him being released early(all of 10 weeks). Is the license not a contact and once signed, are the prison now breaching that contract?

Our Response:
No, a licence is a permit - given on conditions....not a contract.
AboutHumanRights - 10-Aug-17 @ 10:17 AM
My partner was told on Fri he was being released on tag, after appealing the initial decision and making his case to come home in from of the panal, who agreed he could come home and it was also signed off by the Govoner, he also signed his license and it was agreed he would be released Tues morning (as the Mon was a holiday), we told our children on the Sunday and then at 2pm on the Mon afternoon he was told he couldn't be released until the victim had be informed and given 2 weeks to write back with how they would feel about him being released early(all of 10 weeks). Is the license not a contact and once signed, are the prison now breaching that contract?
KT - 8-Aug-17 @ 9:22 PM
Frankie - Your Question:
My boyfriend is currently half way through a 10 month prion sentence in Risley. He was returned to prison after breaching his licence. He was told that he had been put forward to serve the rest of his sentence on tag. He didn't ask for this, apparently his head of wing officer did it and probation backed him up. Anyway he was told on Saturday he was going home on Tuesday and that everything had gone through, so he told his family and his 7 year old daughter. On Monday, the day before his release day, he was told that the breach of his licence had been overlooked and that he finish his sentence. Is there anyone who would be able to advise as to what his rights are because this has messed up his head and us as his family are extremely upset and angry that they could get our hopes up like this and then have to break his daughters heart. Thanks

Our Response:
It sounds as though it was an error of communication but it's unlikely that there will be much you can do about it. Try writing to the prisoner governor's office
AboutHumanRights - 7-Aug-17 @ 10:01 AM
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