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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 94059 Find in a Library
Title: Time to Take Prisoners' Rights Seriously
Journal: Journal of Law and Society  Volume:11  Issue:1  Dated:(Spring 1984)  Pages:1-32
Author(s): G Richardson
Date Published: 1984
Page Count: 32
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United Kingdom
Annotation: Attention to prisoners' rights in Great Britain requires legislative change to specify such rights more clearly and a more definitive role by proponents of penal reform.
Abstract: British law currently vests a prisoner with few special rights against the prison authorities. The Prison Rules provide no such rights and the Prison Act is seldom sufficiently specific. If prisoners wish to challenge the legal validity of their treatment in prison, they must commonly rely on establishing a general liberty protected by a defensive right. To counter such claims, the prison authorities assert special powers to alter the legal relationship between themselves and the prisoner. Such powers are derived from the sentence of imprisonment and are to be found either in the provisions of the Prison Act and the interpretation of imprisonment itself or in the Prison Rules. A review of case law shows that in the interpretation of the precise substance of such powers, the courts are influenced by policy considerations and tend to favor the nonlegal arguments of the authorities, except in exceptional circumstances or where the prisoner can claim a special right in a context where the courts will recognize it. What is needed is a strategy whereby the courts can be persuaded to take prisoners' rights seriously in administrative areas. This requires legislative change that will detail the rights possessed by prisoners, so as to reduce the scope for judicial interpretation. In areas where it is necessary for the authorities to retain discretion, legislation would specify the principles governing the exercise of such discretion. To achieve such legislation, proponents of reform must make recommendations for change, encourage the enactment of legislation, and ensure that the courts adhere to it. Ninety-nine notes and 43 references are provided.
Index Term(s): Correctional reform; Great Britain/United Kingdom; Law reform; Prisoner's rights
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