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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 78394 Find in a Library
Title: Control Unit Regime - Law and Order in Prison
Journal: Howard Journal of Penology and Crime Prevention  Volume:20  Issue:2  Dated:(1981)  Pages:69-80
Author(s): P Birkinshaw
Date Published: 1981
Page Count: 12
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United Kingdom
Annotation: An inmate's litigation against the use of the control unit in England's Wakefield prison in 1974 is discussed, and the judicial decision is critiqued.
Abstract: The control unit, which involved segregating troublesome inmates from the general prison population, was intended to reduce the influence on other inmates of those who would undermine and disrupt life in the prison. The plaintiff, who spent 180 days in the control unit, sued the Home Office for the tort of false imprisonment, claiming an award of exemplary damages for oppressive and arbitrary government action. The plaintiff also sought a declaration that the Home Office Circular Instruction under which the control unit was established and operated was ultra vires the defendant and unlawful. The Home Office argued its case under Prison Rule 43, which allows the prison governor to remove a prisoner from association with the general inmate population for the 'maintenance of good order and discipline.' The judge ruled that the control unit at Wakefield did not differ substantially from Rule 43 regimes in other prisons, such that it would be considered cruel and unusual. Further, the judge held that courts should support the discretion of prison administrations when asked to review internal prison administrative actions, particularly since internal grievance procedures exist. While the need for prisons to have segregation power can hardly be questioned, the court's repudiation of its supervision of vast areas of prison administration reduces the need for prisons to be openly accountable in an area where abuse has traditionally occurred. Twelve notes and 14 references are listed.
Index Term(s): England; Inmate discipline; Inmate grievances; Inmate lawsuits; Inmate segregation; Judicial decisions
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