A Coyle (2002)
163 pages (61 KB)
How can human rights form an integral part of prison management? What are the common factors that constitute a model for good prison management? This handbook, produced by the International Centre for Prison Studies, draws examples from all regions of the globe, setting out standards agreed by the international community, usually through the UN. The handbook shows that there is a common set of factors which, when taken together, constitute a model for good prison management. It’s specific focus is those who deal with prisoners on a day to day basis.
Prisons should be managed within an ethical context which respects the humanity of everyone involved: prisoners, prison staff and visitors. They should be open to public scrutiny to ensure that proper procedures exist and to this end the involvement of civil society is encouraged.
Of the many strands of good prison management, contact with the outside world and the right to a semblance of family life is one, as is access to external information via newspapers, television or the internet, as well as a fair and just complaints procedure and the presumption of innocence of pre-trial prisoners. Further good practice considerations include:
- Prisons should be seen as providing a public service and should be accountable to an elected parliament. Staff/prisoner relationships are crucial with strong leadership and excellent staff.
- Prisoners should be treated with dignity in full respect of their human rights, for example basic standards of food and drink, living space, toilet and washing facilities and clothing.
- Provision of training and education.
- The provision of the highest standards of free physical and mental healthcare, especially in the field of communicable diseases and in particular HIV/AIDS.
- Social reintegration and constructive activities are to be encouraged to provide opportunities for change and self-improvement, to prevent deterioration and to equip prisoners for life after release.
- The recognition that women prisoners have different and unique problems, especially in respect of mothers with young children and pregnant women.
The complexity of successful prison management requires a wide range of skills from those who run prisons, in the context of standards agreed by the international community. Furthermore, the prison administration is well placed to make a major contribution to the establishment of alternatives to prison and debates on alternative sentencing. Policy factors to promote this include the following, by no means exhaustive, list:
- A clear statement of purpose to ensure values are understood by all and staff training provided in specialist areas such as the use of force and working with special groups.
- Democratic control, separating police from prisons, forging links with social agencies and a disciplined and hierarchical organisation is fundamental.
- Protection of human rights, including the acceptance that no situation justifies torture, sexual abuse, or the denial of family contact.
- A valid judicial order, prisoners must be registered, legal representation should be provided and a medical examination carried out on admittance.
- The right to observe the requirements of one’s religion and the recognition of all religions.
- Operating secure, safe and orderly prisons involves achieving the correct balance between security, control and justice. The rule of law must always prevail in prisons.
Source: Coyle, A., 2002, A Human Rights Approach to Prison Management: A Handbook for Prison Staff, International Centre for Prison Studies, London.
(Also available in Arabic, Aramaic, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese, Russian, Serbo-Croat, Spanish and Turkish directly from publishing organisation)
Related resources: This document forms part of the GRC Exchange topic guide page on "Penal Reform" - part of the wider GRC Exchange topic guide on "Safety, Security and Access to Justice".