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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 74320 Find in a Library
Title: Prisoners' Rights
Journal: Public Law  Volume:1980  Dated:(Spring 1980)  Pages:74-89
Author(s): A M Tettenborn
Date Published: 1980
Page Count: 16
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United Kingdom
Annotation: This article examines conflicts between the need to afford English prisoners their civil rights except those taken away by the fact of imprisonment and the desirability of giving prison authorities a relatively free hand in internal administration; recent judicial decisions involving prisoners' rights are highlighted.
Abstract: The legal position of prisoners in England is supposedly simple. Subject to specific exceptions, they have the same rights and duties as any other subject. Thus, they can bring actions in the ordinary courts for assault or negligence against the prison authorities or engage in other litigation. Conversely, they are subject to trial in the ordinary courts, although a concurrent jurisdiction is vested in the prison governor and the prison visitors. The prisoner's ownership of property remains unaffected. In addition, the prison authorities probably have, on principle, no power to constrain the prisoner to a greater extent than is necessary to prevent escape and to preserve discipline within the prison. Exceptions to this principle are based on the need to procure an efficient and expeditious administration inside the prison. Several recent judicial decisions have addressed the problems involved with balancing the legal rights of prisoners on the one hand with the practical respect and enforcement of those rights on the other. The powers of a prison governor over an inmate's person involve intricate questions. A detailed code is established in the Prison Rules concerning disciplinary offenses within a prison, the authorities' power of punishment, and the procedure to be exercised in deciding whether to administer that punishment. The 1971 Becker case illustrates the issues involved. In the 1975 case of Fraser v. Mudge it was held that prison boards, visitors, and governors in their disciplinary capacity are under at least a minimal legal duty to observe the rules of natural justice. In the subsequent decision in the Hull Prison case, the courts held that the legal duty to observe natural justice rules can be enforced by prerogative orders. It is concluded that the Hull Prison case represents a welcome recognition by the courts of their responsibilities to protect a party's rights regardless of that party's status. Sixty-one footnotes are included.
Index Term(s): Civil rights; Corrections management; England; Judicial decisions; Prisoner's rights; Special purpose public police
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