What Rights do Convicts Have in Prison?

Finding yourself in prison is no ones idea of a good time, but it should put your mind at rest to know you do still have individual rights. All citizens in the UK are entitled to certain rights- however, if you break the law and are convicted of a crime, some of these rights are restricted or withdrawn. What is less known about going to prison is that prisoners fundamental rights are protected in law. If you find yourself facing a prison sentence or a friend or family member is convicted of a crime, knowing what your rights are will ensure you receive the correct treatment. 

Basic Rights That are Protected in Law 
Your basic rights include protection from bullying and racial harassment. You are also allowed to contact a solicitor and receive healthcare, including support for a mental health condition. You should also be given access to the outside for between 30 and 60 minutes every day. When it comes to contact with your family and loved ones, you’re legally entitled to either prison visits or contact over the telephone. Letters can be written once a week to whoever you choose. There are, however, specific rules that have to be adhered to and the recipient of the letter has to be approved by the prison governor. If you want to know more about prisoners’ rights, there will be rules available in the prison library. The prison service instructions and the prison standing orders set out your rights for everyone to read. However, it is worthwhile to contact a prison law solicitor for the best professional advice. 

Human Rights of Prisoners 
Finding yourself in prison means that some of your human rights will be compromised or removed. However, there are others which every individual is entitled, whether they have been convicted of a crime or not. These include the right to food and water, an education and access to a solicitor and private legal counsel. You are also entitled to marry and start a family and practice your religion. How these rights are applied depends on individual circumstances. Your right to property must be respected, which means your possessions have to be looked after. In accordance with the right to respect for family and private life, you are entitled to apply for a transfer to a prison which is closer to your family. There is one area of controversy when it comes to convicts’ rights: the right to vote. In the UK, at present, there is a blanket ban on all prisoners taking part in elections. The European Court of Human Rights has considered this ban on many occasions and each time has concluded that this ban is in violation of the right to free election. The UK has not changed the law, even though there has been a judgement. As well as an entitlement to individual rights, prisoners are also entitled to privileges if they follow the rules. These include the possibility of getting more visits from family and friends and being allowed to spend more money each week. What privileges are granted in prisons will vary. If you want to know more, you can ask prison staff to explain.

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