Running Head: Benefits of Human Rights Approach to Imprisonment

Benefits of Human Rights Approach to Imprisonment





Ward and Birgden (2006) define human rights as those rights claimed by an individual on the basis that they are human beings, with reference to prisoners there are two views toward human rights, one of the view that individuals hold is that prisoners are moral strangers and do not deserve consideration, the other view is that prisoners are human beings and deserve a chance to live better lives. A human right approach toward imprisonment will benefit both the prisoners and prison officers who work directly with prisoners. This paper concentrates on how prison officers can benefit from a human right approach to imprisonment.

Benefits of Human Rights Approach to Imprisonment

Benefits of human right approach to imprisonment:

According to Hamilton and Ursula (2008) four treaties provide guidelines to human right practices in prisons, these include the convection for the prevention of torture (CPT), the European convection on human rights, convection against torture and the international convection on civil and political rights. According to this journal article overcrowding has been one of the major problems that has resulted into poor personal hygiene and lack of proper health care. Adoption of human rights practices and rules will yield benefits not only to the prisoner but to the prison officers as well.

Another problem in prisons is lack of health care and proper sanitation, overcrowding and inappropriate rules in prisons have resulted into poor personal hygiene, insufficient in cell sanitation has resulted into degrading and inhuman treatment in prisons and increased transmission of diseases among inmates and prison officers, adoption of human right practices will improve the conditions and reduce transmission of diseases among inmates and also prison officers.

According to Hamilton and Ursula (2008) riots and violence among prisoners is as a response to inhuman treatment of prisoners by the system, therefore implementation of rules that observe human rights are likely to reduce occurrence of violence and riots in prisons ensuring effective and efficient management of prisons by prison officers.

Ireland has responded to the human rights convection by developing new prison facilities, these facilities ensure humane standards in prisons are maintained and also improved efficiency and effectiveness in prison management, one way in which prison officers will benefit is the case where with the development of these modern facilities the working conditions of prison officers

Benefits of Human Rights Approach to Imprisonment

is improved.

Article two of ECHR stipulates the right to life not only to inmates but also to prison officers, Hamilton and Ursula (2008) highlight a case where a parent of an inmate was killed by a mentally ill prisoner, information about the violent behaviour of the inmate was well known but no actions were taken, with the adoption of proper rules and regulations that are in line with human rights the prison officers will also have the right to life and also protection from unnecessary risks.

The Committee for the prevention of torture provides an opportunity for the government to work with international experts in the implementation of standards in prison, by working together with the committee the government is likely to receive greater and widespread international support, this will helps in the drafting of widely accepted standards and therefore likely to improve the working standards of prison officers.

According to the CPT report of 2006 Human rights convections provides a benchmark to measure and compare local standards, rules and regulations with standardized international standards, prison systems will adopt widely accepted standards and therefore this is likely to benefit both the prisoners and the prison officers, the government will ensure that adequate resource and staffing is provided and therefore have a positive impact on prison officers.

Other prison system practices such as the slopping out practice or padded cells for inmates humiliates the inmate due to isolation, lack of structured activities and the lack of time outside the cell, prison officers assigned to these inmates also face humiliation and therefore affect them negatively, with the abolishment of such practices the working condition of such prison officers assigned to such activities are likely to improve.

Benefits of Human Rights Approach to Imprisonment

The adoptions of practices that observe human right of prisoners are likely to advocate for an independent complaint mechanism, international experts are likely to be engaged in such activities and therefore more complaints are likely to be collected from both inmates and prison officers, this mechanism will ensure that improvements are made and therefore prison officers are likely to express their grievances that will ensure improved effectiveness of their duties.

Section three of article two of ECHR defines the awarding of damages to human rights violations, it covers awards of damages resulting from violence and risk, adoption of these standards therefore will ensure proper compensation of damages to prison officers who may be victims of violence in prisons, therefore these standards will provide guidelines that will ensure harm reduction and the compensation of damages to the prison officers and inmates.

Finally it is evident that human rights violations are linked to working conditions of prison officers, prison officers are demoralized and lack motivation and this results into violation of human rights, this leads to poor function of the prison system and violation of human rights, therefore improving the living and working conditions of prison officers will lead to an improvement in the prison system whereby both the prisoners and the prison staff benefit.


From the above discussion it is evident that by adopting standards that are widely accepted by the international community prisons will observe human rights that will benefit both the inmates and the prison officers, prison officers are likely to experiences improved working conditions, reduced levels of violence and riots in prisons, improved effectiveness, reduced risk of transmitting communicable diseases as a result of poor sanitation issues and proper standardized guidelines that will ensure effective and efficient management of inmates. It is clear that prisons need to be reformed because inmates deserve a chance to change their lives and from adoption of widely accepted standard that observe inmate human rights both the inmates and prison officers will benefit.

Benefits of Human Rights Approach to Imprisonment


Claire Hamilton and Ursula Kilkelly (2008) Human rights in Irish prisons, judicial studies institute Journal, 2, 58

CPT (2002) Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment: An introduction to the CPT,

T. Ward, A. Birgden (2007) Aggression and Violent Behaviour

Tony Ward and Astrid Birgden (2006) Human rights and correctional clinical practice