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Chapter 10-r He Prisoners

Chapter 10-r He Prisoners

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Published by Vaishnavi Jayakumar

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Published by: Vaishnavi Jayakumar on Aug 28, 2012
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“Convicts are not by mere reason of the conviction denuded of all the fundamental rights
which they otherwise possess.
Justice V.R. Krishna Iyer(Sunil Batra Vs. Delhi Administration., 1978)A prison, jail or correctional facility is a place in which individuals are physicallyconfined or detained and usually deprived of a range of personal freedom. Theseinstitutions are an integral part of the criminal justice system of a country. There arevarious types of prisons such as those exclusively for adults, children, female, convictedprisoners, under-trial detainees and separate facilities for mentally ill offenders. In thischapter
, “prisons” refer to
only adult correctional facilities.Imprisonment or incarceration is a legal punishment that may be imposed by the state forthe commission of a crime or disobeying its rule. The objective of imprisonment varies indifferent countries and may be: a) punitive and for incapacitation, b) deterrence, and c)rehabilitative and reformative (Scott CL & Gerbasi JB., 2005). In general, theseobjectives have evolved over time as shown in the accompanying figure. The primarypurpose and justification of imprisonment is to protect society against crime andretribution. In current thinking, punitive methods of treatment of prisoners alone areneither relevant nor desirable to achieve the goal of reformation and rehabilitation of prison inmates. The concept of Correction, Reformation and Rehabilitation has come tothe foreground and the prison administration is now expected to function in a curativeand correctional manner (Karnataka Prisons 2009). Human rights approaches and humanrights legislations have facilitated a change in the approaches of correctional systems, andthey have evolved from being reactive to proactive
ly safeguarding prisoners‟ rights.
TheUnited Nations has also provided several standards and guidelines, through minimal rulesor basic principles in the treatment of prisoners (United Nations 1977).The State is under an obligation for protecting the human rights of its citizens as well asto protect the society at large, and is authorised to do so. To protect the citizens from anypossible abuse of this authority, they are given certain basic privileges recognised by theConstitution of India as Rights. Elevation of such claims to the status of Rights, gives the
Suresh Bada Math, Pratima Murthy, Rajani Parthasarthy, C Naveen Kumar, S Madhusudhan (2011).Minds Imprisoned: Mental Health Care in Prisons.Publication, National Institute of Mental Health Neuro Sciences, Bangalore.Ref:Page 148-161
citizens the capacity to evoke the power of the Judiciary to protect themselves againstviolation of such rights, as well as to seek redressal for their restitution.
Figure 1: Evolution in the objectives of the prison system
Human Rights of prisoners: National and International Instruments
In India, the idea of rights of prisoners was long suppressed under the colonial rule andhas only recently emerged in public discourse. The Constitution of India confers anumber of fundamental rights upon citizens. The Indian State is also a signatory tovarious international instruments of human rights, like the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which states that:
“No one shall be subject to torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment of 
(UDHR, 1948)
Also important is the United Nations Covenant on Civil and Political Rights which statesin part:
“All persons deprived of their liberty shall be treated with humanity and with
respect for the inherent dignity of the human person
. (UNICCPR, 1966)
There are many United Nations codified standards of treatment for prisoners acrossdifferent economic, social and cultural contexts in a number of documents. Theseconcern themselves with ensuring those basic minimum conditions in prisons which arenecessary for the maintenance of human dignity and facilitate the development of prisoners into better human beings. International documents, which have articulated the
 prisoners‟ rights, are listed
in the accompanying table.
Table 1. International Conventions/Regulations on Prisoners
Human Rights
Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners (OHCHR, 1955)Principles of Medical Ethics relevant to the Role of Health Personnel, particularlyPhysicians, in the Protection of Prisoners and Detainees against Torture and OtherCruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (UN Medical Ethics, 1982)Convention Against Torture (UNCAT, 1984)Body of Principles for the Protection of All Persons under Any Form of Detentionor Imprisonment. (Principles of Detention, 1988)Basic Principles for the Treatment of Prisoners (UNPTP, 1990)United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for Non-Custodial Measures (The TokyoRules, 1990)Declaration on the Protection of all Persons from Enforced Disappearance. GeneralAssembly Resolution 47/133 (UNDPPED, 1992)United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for the Administration of Juvenile Justice(The Beijing Rules, 1985)
Declaration of Basic Principles of Justice for Victims of Crime and Abuse of Power, (UNVCAP, 1985)

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