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Serving a Prison Sentence: Prisoner's Rights

By: Liz Lennox - Updated: 16 Sep 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 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
My friend was sent to prison in March with a substantial Heroin habit. He was self medicating on the outside, as well as receiving Dihydrocodeine and Diazepam. When he entered prison, he was put on 40mls of Methadone a day. He did remarkably well, choosing to go down by 5 mls a week after his first few weeks on the original dose. When he got down to 1ml a day, he arranged with the doctor to have a care package, comprising of paracetamol, ibuprofen, cramp tablets, and zopliclone for sleep at night. He didn't receive this on the first day, was told there was a problem on the second, got it on the 3rd, 4th day, then nothing since, he gets told every day that he goes to collect that there is a problem with the dr's signature, or some other excuse. It has been three weeks and he is in agony. Methadone is an awful drug, unlike Heroin which only takes about 7 days before you are back on your feet, it can takes months, it really gets into your 'bones', so to speak. He waited weeks to see the Dr, who told him he was the wrong Dr! He would have to see the drugs Dr(when he made the appointment, he stated who he needed to see). My friend told him was suffering badly with his back, but it was the Meth withdrawal causing it, just like the pains in his legs, three weeks without proper sleep, inability to eat, diahoerria, etc. The doctor said he would make my friend an appointment for six weeks time to see the drugs Doc... It beggars belief!! My friend could have stayed on Methadone throughout his one year sentence, but was determined to turn his life around. I had told him at the start it was very brave, as it's not like being on the outside, the help may not be as reliable, or readily available. But he was determined to get back healthy and well, to his 3 children who were living with his brother. He has a 5 day a week job, where he works all day, he has kept this up throughout his detox, he's no trouble and has been used by the staff as a Listener....but no one is listening to him!!! He is a good man, with a good heart, which is why my husband and me are so desperate to help him. We are very worried about his mental and physical well being. He really doesn't want to start using again, especially in prison, but is desperate now, and ridiculous as it is, of he starts using again, at least they will put him back through the system again! Is there anything he can do please, so that he can at least go to pick up his meds and find them actually there, whilst he has to wait the insane period of six weeks to be seen again please? Any help would be gratefully received. They have implemented a non smoking ban, with his wing as the trial wing too, so he is at his wits end! Only 2 meals a day, child size portions....I know prison isn't supposed to be a holiday camp but they are supposed to look after them. Lock a man up for a year, you're responsible for his diet, and healthcare in the least!! I'd like to add, my friend hasn't moaned once in all these weeks.
WynnieWify - 4-Aug-17 @ 1:57 PM
My boyfriend is on license until April 2019. He broke his license on December the 24th, he has been in prison since then. His new sentence was 5 months and his release date should have been mid March or if he was to service his full sentence the 24th of May. They are still holding him due to his license conditions. He had a parole hearing in April which was turned down. He is a model prisoner, he works as a mentor, has enhanced status, hes the wings health rep and has completed all of the courses he has been asked to and he is a Christian and attends church regularly. He rang his probation worker last week on Thursday she told him there may potentially be a hostel space for him on the 7th of August and she would know by yesterday, as you can imagine he has been on edge waiting for a response, then he rang her yesterday to be told they wouldn't know until Friday if he is due to be released the following Monday. I'm really worried abouthis mental state at the moment, he is ringing me constantly through the day and his mood is understandably up and down. If they tell him Monday it hasn't been approved I think it will send him over the edge. I don't think its fair that they can do this, leave his life hanging on the line. He already has a date in for his next parole hearing why not just wait for that instead of giving him false hope. I saw another similar comment that has been posted today, this is obviously typical of the justice system but its not acceptable.
faye - 3-Aug-17 @ 10:26 AM
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
Frankie - 3-Aug-17 @ 12:23 AM
Leese - Your Question:
Hi my boyfriend has been put on cat A, I've filled all the forms out to be approved a visit, does anyone know how long this will take and is there any numbers I could ring, the prison said they have sent it back to were ever they send it, I don't know we're this is? He's been in prison since April with no visits.

Our Response:
Try contacting the Offenders' Families helpline they should no where to direct you in order to chase this up.
AboutHumanRights - 28-Jul-17 @ 10:29 AM
My partner went to prison today. He didnt expect is therefore didnt write down any contact numbers or take any clothes etc. How can i get in contact with him if he doesnt remember any numbers? & its not a question of him getting in contact if he wants to because i look after his sick dad and 2 children.
Shye - 26-Jul-17 @ 7:00 PM
Hi my boyfriend has been put on catA, I've filled all the forms out to be approved a visit, does anyone know how long this will take and is there any numbers I could ring, the prison said they have sent it back to were ever they send it, I don't know we're this is? He's been in prison since April with no visits.
Leese - 25-Jul-17 @ 12:29 PM
my partner was sentenced to 26weeks in prison for convictions from 2009-2015 and caught again this year but wasnt remanded for bein 'on the run' the first court date was adjourned then the courts had a 10min break to decided what the out come would be. i put a letter of complaint to monitoring board due to he has an open wound and not gettin the care he should receive! anyway.. get to the point, what would the chances be to HDC acceptance? hes done 3weeks on wednesday! this lad has changed, moved area, workin light work for now and moved into a family home, i have 3 kids of my own and hes brilliant with then! which he isnt used to! whats peaopke oppinions? help.. this is hurtin the kids due to bein 115miles away and travelin suck for us 4!
louisa - 24-Jul-17 @ 8:00 PM
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
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