The most severe form of punishment normally available to the courts is imprisonment. A prison term may vary from a few days to a sentence for life.
When a court sentences anyone to prison the state assumes total responsibility for the care and welfare of that prisoner and it is right and proper that the state should be made accountable for its behaviour.
Upon entering through the gates of prison you might be forgiven for thinking that you have had all your rights taken from you. The reality of the situation could not be further removed. You do have a great many rights. It’s just that those charged with running prisons either forget to tell you or, even worse, ignore these rights completely
You would be forgiven for thinking that the rules are made by the prison authorities themselves. They are not. The rules are made by Parliament and can be found within various Acts and Statutory Instruments.
What are they?
Basically, these are like rules for a game of football with SPS being one team and the prisoners being the other team. The referee enforces the rules, which is in effect the courts. SPS are not able to do simply as they wish. Absolutely everything they do and every single decision they make must comply with the rules and is subject to the final decision of the courts.
Everyone will have heard of “Human Rights”. These represent the fundamental rights of every human being and can be found in the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms and the Human Rights Act 1998. All decisions and processes that affect private citizens, including prisoners, are subject to these rights. What some of you may not have heard of are the Rules of Natural Justice and these are like human rights in that they deal with our fundamental rights which no-one can defeat or remove from us. In some respects the Rules of Natural Justice have a much greater implication than Human Rights.
Grievance procedure & complaints
In the first instance anyone feeling aggrieved should complete a formal complaint. If after going through the whole complaints procedure you are still not happy with the decision, the matter can be referred to the Complaints Commissioner, who is an independent person. If after reference to the Commissioner you remain unhappy the matter can be raised in court by way of judicial review.
You are much more likely to get somewhere with all this if you get us to prepare everything for you.
What if you have a complaint about prison policy?
Imagine a situation where you want something and go on request but are told that what you want is being refused because it is against prison policy. Obviously in these cases the complaints procedure is going to get you nowhere because the jail staff are bound to follow policy. The problem is that not all policy is lawful and much of it is clearly contrary to Human Rights and Natural Justice.
The question of whether SPS policy with regard to mobile phones is a point in issue. Our view is that their policy on mobiles (at least insofar as open prisons are concerned) is likely to be a contravention of certain Articles of the European Convention on Human Rights and the Human Rights Act 1998.
In cases where you feel prison policy is unfair it is virtually certain that you will require professional legal assistance at the earliest opportunity. Generally speaking, you would always be well advised to seek legal advice no matter what query you may have.