How torture is inflicted on prisoners in solitary confinement

February 24, 2014
Published in: SF Bay View

by Mutope Duguma and Sitawa Nantambu Jamaa

This is a glimpse into torture by prison staff, using any means available, of which solitary confinement at Pelican Bay State Prison in California is only a reflection of the inhumane treatment and clear U.S. constitutional violations of our First, Fifth, Eighth and 14th Amendment rights that prisoners in solitary everywhere are subjected to.

Torture by deprivation

The objective of the deprivation method is not complicated. It is to attack the sensory organs and perception with methods to impair them. The weapon of deprivation cannot be effective without having in place a conditioning process to produce degeneration over a long period of time. The psychological, social and cultural trauma is observable in such a sterile and punitive environment.

Deprivation is cannibalistic for the spirit that is willing to stay the course. The flesh becomes weakened as men feed on themselves and others, eating away at human excellence. The feasting of deprivation will become more than flesh, blood or nature can endure. Indeterminate SHU confinement has left individuals with having to choose between discontinuity and becoming inflicted with a cannibalistic nature.

There are two aspects of deprivation, the psychological and the physical, where the mind acts upon the body. This two-edged torture can be effective either way. But in order for deprivation to eat away at the targeted prisoner’s consciousness, a conversion reaction must occur that breaks down the psychological defense mechanism.

Declaration on Protection from Torture

The “Declaration on the Protection of All Persons from Being Subjected to Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment” was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly as Resolution 3452 (XXX) on Dec. 9, 1975. The declaration contains 12 articles, the first of which defines the term “torture” as

“any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted by or at the instigation of a public official on a person for such purposes as obtaining from him or a third person information or confession, punishing him for an act he has committed or is suspected of having committed, or intimidating him or other persons.”

Types of torture

Medical: Honorable Judge Thelton Henderson ordered a receivership to oversee CDCr’s PBSP SHU due to intentional medical neglect which led to prisoners dying, as frequently as one a week, in the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation system. Many of these deaths were, and continue to be, in solitary confinement. This is torture.

Solitary confinement: Prisoners are held in isolation for 10 to 40 years despite having only non-disciplinary infractions during that time. This is torture.

Mail: Prisoner mail is being used to create physical and psychological torment. Mail can be arbitrarily withheld for weeks on a regular basis, and has been known to be withheld for years, even when there are court orders to release the mail to a prisoner being unjustly deprived. This is torture.

Food: Food is intentionally prepared poorly, contaminated and disproportionate. Nutritional food is deliberately denied. This is torture.

No human contact: Prisoners have no real, meaningful social interaction with other human beings, especially family and close friends. Our five senses – touch, sight, smell, hearing and taste – become dulled from deprivation. This is torture.

Visiting: Constantly, under the CDCr gestapo style agency of correctional safety, the Investigative Service Unit (ISU) and Institutional Gang Investigators (IGI) and other such units deliberately intimidate visitors and prisoners. This is torture.

Cell searches: These are used to intimidate, harass and trash prisoners’ cells, leaving them in disarray while taking political writings, pictures, manuscripts, books, pamphlets, magazines etc., causing psychological torment. This is torture.

No sanitation: Prisoners are deliberately kept in unsanitary units. For example, showers are allowed four times a week, but the showers are cleaned only twice a week. There is an abundance of mold, mice, bugs, gnats, fungus etc. This is torture.

Climate: Prisoners are kept in freezing cold or burning hot cells, depending on the time of year, a complaint that has been made for over 21 years. This is torture.

Contraband watch, or potty watch: It is humiliating, dehumanizing and outright cruel and unusual punishment when prisoners are held in shackles and placed in the middle of a hall while being placed on a portable “potty,” while cops (female too) and prisoners with escorts are walking by. There are reports of prisoners being placed in cages, without a toilet or running water. Men are placed in a diaper with a prison jumpsuit over it, while the victim’s hands are bound into a fist-wrap. PVC pipe forced onto arms and black boxes over the hands have also been used. The prisoner is required to defecate three separate times during a three-day period. The torment and suffering are truly visible on the prisoner’s face. This is done to cause severe humiliation, along with mental, physical and psychological torment. This is torture.

Family: Each validated prisoner’s family is deliberately harassed, intimidated and intentionally hoaxed into false prosecution for a thoughtless crime by gestapo-type units (OCS, ISU, SSU and IGI) with the intent of discouraging any support or communication with the prisoner. This is torture.

Grievances: The 602 appeal process, at each of its three levels is deliberately set up to not afford a prisoner relief, regardless of whether prison officials are dead wrong in their accusations. This clearly establishes that there is no accountability for what officials do to prisoners. This is torture.

In addition, the structural features of the various solitary confinement units throughout the U.S. prison industrial complex (PIC) make it possible to target specific prisoners by utilizing sensory deprivation to undermine the social, cultural and ethical values that the targeted prisoners hold. Prisoners are rare who can escape the ravages of the torture that results from long term isolation and the negative assaults by guards in any of California’s supermax control units and similar units all over the U.S.

This is torture.

The science behind the use of deprivations has been perfected by the handlers to operate with devastating force. We know there is no separation between physical torture and mental torture. Torture is a double-edged sword that can slice effectively either way to exact punishment or revenge. It has the purpose of taking away a targeted prisoner’s human dimension and essence.

This is torture.

UN rights expert: California jails: “Solitary confinement can amount to cruel punishment, even torture”


GENEVA (23 August 2013) – The United Nations Special Rapporteur on torture, Juan E. Méndez, today urged the United States Government to abolish the use of prolonged or indefinite solitary confinement. There are approximately 80,000 prisoners in the United States of America who are subjected to solitary confinement, nearly 12,000 are in isolation in the state of California.

“Even if solitary confinement is applied for short periods of time, it often causes mental and physical suffering or humiliation, amounting to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, and if the resulting pain or sufferings are severe, solitary confinement even amounts to torture,” Mr. Méndez stressed as nearly 200 inmates in Californian detention centres approach their fifth consecutive week on hunger strike against cruel, inhuman and degrading prison conditions.

“I urge the US Government to adopt concrete measures to eliminate the use of prolonged or indefinite solitary confinement under all circumstances,” he said, “including an absolute ban of solitary confinement of any duration for juveniles, persons with psychosocial disabilities or other disabilities or health conditions, pregnant women, women with infants and breastfeeding mothers as well as those serving a life sentence and prisoners on death row.”

The independent investigator on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment urged the US authorities to ensure that “solitary confinement is only imposed, if at all, in very exceptional circumstances, as a last resort, for as short a time as possible and with established safeguards in place.” In Mr. Méndez’s view, “its application must be subject to independent review, and inmates must undergo strict medical supervision.”

Since 8 July 2013, thousands of prisoners detained in nine separate prisons across the state of California have gone on hunger strike to peacefully protest the cruel, inhuman and degrading prison conditions. The inmates are demanding a change in the state’s excessive use of solitary confinement as a disciplinary measure, and the subjugation of prisoners to solitary confinement for prolonged periods of time by prison authorities under the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.

In California’s maximum security prison in Pelican Bay more than 400 prisoners have been held in solitary confinement for over a decade, and the average time a prisoner spends in solitary confinement is 7.5 years. “I am extremely worried about those numbers and in particular about the approximately 4,000 prisoners in California who are held in Security Housing Units for indefinite periods or periods of many years, often decades,” Mr. Méndez said.

In many cases inmates are isolated in 8-foot-by-12 foot (2.5 x 3.5 m. Approx.) cells and lack minimum ventilation and natural light. The prisoners are forced to remain in their cells for 22 to 23 hours per day, and they are allowed only one hour of exercise alone in a cement lot where they do not necessarily have any contact with other inmates.

In the context of reported reprisals against inmates on hunger strike and a District Judge’s approval of Californian authorities’ request to engage to force-feed prisoners under certain circumstances, the UN Special Rapporteur also reminded the authorities that “it is not acceptable to use threats of forced feeding or other types of physical or psychological coercion against individuals who have opted for the extreme recourse of a hunger strike.”

Mr. Méndez addressed the issue of solitary confinement in the US, including prison regimes in California, in his 2011 report* to the UN General Assembly and in numerous communications to the Government. He has also repeatedly requested an invitation to carry out a visit to the country, including State prisons in California, but so far has not received a positive answer.

“My request coincides with some prominent voices in the United States, including the first-ever congressional hearing chaired by Senator Durbin on 19 June 2012; the decision to close Tamms Maximum Security Correctional Center by the State of Illinois on 4 January 2013 and numerous editorials by prominent columnists in major papers addressing the excessive use of solitary confinement across the country,” Mr. Méndez said.

“It is about time to provide the opportunity for an in situ assessment of the conditions in US prisons and detention facilities,” the UN Special Rapporteur underscored.

Juan E. Méndez (Argentina) was appointed by the UN Human Rights Council as the Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment on 1 November 2010. He is independent from any government and serves in his individual capacity.
Mr. Méndez has dedicated his legal career to the defense of human rights, and has a long and distinguished record of advocacy throughout the Americas. He is currently a Professor of Law at the American University – Washington College of Law and Co-Chair of the Human Rights Institute of the International Bar Association.
Mr. Méndez has previously served as the President of the International Center for Transitional Justice (ICTJ) until 2009, and was the UN Secretary-General Special Advisor on the Prevention of Genocide from 2004 to 2007, as well as an advisor on crime prevention to the Prosecutor, International Criminal Court, between 2009 and 2010.

Learn more, log on to: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/Torture/SRTorture/Pages/SRTortureIndex.aspx

(*) Check the 2011 report on solitary confinement: http://daccess-dds-ny.un.org/doc/UNDOC/GEN/N11/445/70/PDF/N1144570.pdf?OpenElement orhttp://ap.ohchr.org/documents/dpage_e.aspx?m=103

UN Human Rights Country Page – United States of America: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Countries/ENACARegion/Pages/USIndex.aspx

For more information and media requests, please contact Ms. Sonia Cronin (+41 22 917 91 60 / scronin@ohchr.org) or Ms. Stephanie Selg (+1 202 274 4378 / ssleg@ohchr.org) or write to sr-torture@ohchr.org.

For media inquiries related to other UN independent experts:
Xabier Celaya, UN Human Rights – Media Unit (+ 41 22 917 9383 / xcelaya@ohchr.org)
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Prisoner Undocumented Immigrants…The Nightmare of the American Dream

This letter was received, typed and emailed to CaliforniaPrisonWatch.org amongst its recipients, and is being posted here and possibly elsewhere:

By Juan Carlos Molina
CSP-Corcoran-SHU

I would like to take this moment to possibly enlighten you to a situation we as Hispanic Mexican Nationals would like to share with all of you. Our hope is to create discussion and ultimately change this sad reality. Due to being such a small population in California prisons, the majority do not understand or even realize (much less consider). Hopefully with this essay I’m able to express correctly, sufficiently, and effectively these little known conditions and bring attention to this issue. We suffer and struggle daily in a foreign land, where many of us do not even write, understand, or speak English.

This struggle not only involves Mexican Nationals in California, but also all undocumented immigrants in prison around this nation. Some of us are here doing life terms with no family or friends support (mentally, emotionally, economically, physically, etc.), the most basic of human conditions to be social. Think about this for a minute. For family members to visit us from Mexico requires an incredible amount of patience and hard work, and huge obstacles at the US-MEXICO border. 

For example, on my situation I haven’t seen my father, brothers, and some of my sisters since 1996. Why??-because my family couldn’t process the visas for them and couldn’t afford to pay the expenses to travel. In the past, I used to see my mother once a year. My family had to work and save money for my elderly mother to be able to come visit me just one time every year. Unfortunately, since 2007, my family couldn’t afford it anymore. So I haven’t seen the rest of my family since 1996, which is 14 years total and counting. 

This is just my example. Many more undocumented immigrants/Hispanics in prison suffer the same fate. Under life terms and some of us validated in the Security Housing Units (SHU), we may very well never see or hug our immediate family and friends. Imagine the suffering and heartache we endure??? Living life sentences inside ‘the grey box’ (SHU), under this daily struggle, under this psychological and physical torture 23 hours a day we wait to hear and receive news from our family back home.

Many of us came to the U.S. from very rural towns with little or no education and severely economically challenged areas in Mexico. As we can agree, many who come to the U.S. do so for the ‘American Dream’: Land of opportunity and a better way of life. A sacrifice for ourselves and our families back home. 

Due to having to put education on hold early in our youth to work and contribute to our family’s welfare, ultimately basic reading and writing much time is lost and thousands of us risk our lives and cross the border (breaking U.S. laws) and some of those thousands end up in prisons, detention centers, and jails across the nation. Fewer still get life terms that cuts off communication with family and limits it to phone calls (when rare monetary ability allows a phone call home) and letters (for those who can read and write).

This is some of what we endure and struggle with, maintaining communication: hope of seeing, speaking to, hearing the familiar voices, or hugging a family member one more time. Whatever the reason or situation, we as prisoners got caught up in the huge justice system of this mighty and powerful nation. Illiteracy, sadly, caused some to sing plea agreements for life terms unknowingly and unintelligibly and so, here we are, for life we exist… in prisons far away from family and friends back home in our country of origin. Not knowing how their lives are going (basic social interaction in an advanced, immediate access, social technical world) for years on end sometimes, is an exhausting struggle we endure. 
Not knowing English accentuates this lonely existence. We suffer alone, unable to afford even toothpaste or deodorant, indigent with no outside support.

Accordingly, I’ll now share the heavier and further sad facts affecting us undocumented immigrants (Mexican national prisoner class) in California prisons. Prison officials incorrectly clam us as gang-related, even though we (historically) no not involve ourselves with any gangs. 

Because we socialize with other Hispanics who speak our own language, we are now getting validated and segregated as participants or associating with prison gangs incorrectly by CDCR. As we all know, this is an extremely difficult and complicated situation as there is an already limited ability to challenge the validation and segregation or understand the already poorly worded rules and regulations.

Because we are only a few of the thousands validated and segregated we are still subject to these torture chambers, anti-social conditions, indeterminately housed in the SHU. As gang associates (incorrectly by CDCR), our already poor communication abilities with family and friends in our country is made worse by constant IGI interference and delays in mail distribution. These are the facts and the issues. We Hispanic Mexican nationals doing life terms seek your support and assistance along with and in solidarity with the prisoner’s peaceful Hunger Strike and the Core Demands.

We are as one within this struggle and in unity we ask all to include our one demand in solidarity with us….Which is a call for CDCR to simply comply with and for us to be identified under the international Treaty of Vienna Convention. The treaty was adopted by the United Nations conference held at Vienna on the twenty-fourth day of April in one thousand nine hundred and sixty three (April 24, 1963). Agreements that both the U.S. and Mexico signed. We also want to be included in the U.S./Mexico prisoner exchange program (currently as lifers, we are ineligible). We are a prisoner class that is in need of the humane and just treaty.

We Mexican nationals, seek this demand in solidarity with California prisoners: For lifers to be included in the prisoner exchange treaty and for CDCR to comply with the Vienna Convention international law. And our rights to be free from torture of indefinite solitary confinement (in the SHU).

Lastly, the California Prison Reduction and Cost Saving bill past recently and federal courts are mandating CDCR comply with it. We want included as a key issue, Mexican nationals and all undocumented immigrants be returned to their own country to do their time. Yet again, lifers are surely excluded , and not only that, but also CDCR will exclude us in segregated housing under erroneous gang labels.

The conditions and practices that imprisoned man, women, and children experience are in violation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the United Nations Convention Against Torture, and the United Nations Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination

U.S. prison practices also violate dozens of other international treaties and fit the United Nations definitions of genocide.

See this article of the US Human Rights Network for the following citation:

Article 1 of the U.N. Convention Against Torture prohibits policies and practices that “constitute cruel, inhumane, or degrading punishment”. The history of international attention to this issue is compelling.

In 1995, the U.N Human Rights Committee stated that conditions in certain U.S. maximum security prisons were incompatible with international standards. 

In 1996, the HRW special reporter on violence against women took testimony in California on the ill treatment of women in U.S. prisons

In 2000, the United Nations Committee against Torture roundly condemned the U.S. for its treatment of prisoners, citing super-max prisons and the use of torture devices, as well as the practice of jailing youth with adults. The use of stun belts and the restraint chair was also cited as violating the U.N. convention against torture. 

In May 2006, the same committee concluded that the U.S. should “review the regimen imposed on detainees in super-maximum prisons. In particular, the practice of prolonged isolation”.


                                                          Respectfully
                                                        In Solidarity,
Juan Carlos Molina #K30854
C.S.P. COR-SHU 4B-2L-47
P.O. Box 3481
Corcoran, CA 93212

California leaders call on Gov. Brown to grant demands of prisoners in solitary confinement

In: SF Bay ViewNovember 14, 2012
by Geri Silva, Families to Amend California’s Three Strikes (FACTS)

More than 3,000 prisoners in California are held in high security isolation units known as Security Housing Units (SHUs), where they are confined for at least 22 and a half hours a day in single or double cells, with no work or meaningful rehabilitation programs or group activities of any kind. Over 1,000 are held in the SHU at Pelican Bay State Prison, a remote facility where most prisoners are confined alone in cells which have no windows to the outside or direct access to natural light.
[photo: When the U.S. Senate held its historic hearing on solitary confinement June 19, 2012, a mock solitary cell behind the speakers dramatized the urgency of relief for the 80,000 to 100,000 prisoners currently held in such cells nationwide. – Photo: Jonathan Ernst, New York Times]

SHU prisoners are isolated both within prison and from meaningful contacts with the outside world: Contact with correctional staff is kept to a minimum, and consultations with medical, mental health and other staff routinely take place behind barriers; all visits, including family and legal visits, are also non-contact, with prisoners separated from their visitors behind a glass screen.

Of those, more than 2,000 prisoners are serving “indeterminate” (indefinite) SHU terms because they have been “validated” by the prison authorities as members or associates of prison gangs. According to figures provided by the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) in 2011, more than 500 prisoners serving indeterminate SHU terms had spent 10 or more years in the Pelican Bay SHU; of this number, more than 200 had spent over 15 years in the SHU and 78 more than 20 years. Many had been in the SHU since it opened in 1989, held in conditions of extreme isolation and environmental deprivation.
Consult the September 2012 Amnesty International report, “USA: The Edge of Endurance: Prison Conditions in California’s Security Housing Units,” for more information.

The following letter has been sent to Gov. Jerry Brown by 15 outstanding Californians in academia, government and business:

Gov. Jerry Brown
State Capitol, Suite 1173
Sacramento, CA 95814

Gov. Brown,

We write you on behalf of the thousands of men and women whose bodies are now confined inside prisons across the state of California, under some of the cruelest and most torturous of constraints: Indefinite Solitary Confinement.

During the summer of 2011, men in Pelican Bay SHU units came together, united across all racial and “political barriers,” voluntarily giving up what little sustenance and comfort they had by going on two prolonged hunger strikes, making clear to all that their prolonged condition of indefinite solitary confinement had reached a point where drastic measures were absolutely necessary.

The men in the Pelican Bay short corridor, who are considered to be dangerously violent and labeled the “worst of the worst” agreed on a peaceful but personally dangerous action to demonstrate the depth of their suffering under conditions of indefinite solitary confinement. The community, but most especially their families, were immediate to take on their issues. Other prisoners in Solitary Confinement throughout the state participated and echoed the demands. Eventually, over 6,000 joined the fast in solidarity with the men in Pelican Bay SHU and in Solitary Confinement and Administrative Segregation throughout the state.

More than a year has passed since the summer 2011 hunger strikes, which were geared at the realization of five core demands. According to the Pelican Bay SHU Short Corridor recognized representatives, who have been meeting and negotiating with representatives from the CDCR, the men are still waiting for the CDCR to meet their five core demands, all of which CDCR’s top administrators admitted were reasonable at the time!
We seek to insure that the demand for an end to the cruelty of indefinite solitary confinement and the wide-spread support generated on the basis of those conditions does not die from the lack of will on the part of the CDCR. Gov. Brown, we appeal to you in unity with the Pelican Bay SHU Short Corridor prisoner representatives – Todd Ashker, Arturo Castellanos, Sitawa N. Jamaa and Antonio Guillen – to seek CDCR support to insure the following:

First, the practice of validating inmates based on assumptions and/or intelligence with no factual basis must be abolished.

We call for an end to the practice of placing prisoners in SHU based on:
  • Second-hand information gathering (the word of another similarly situated prisoner who is granted favors or relief based on his/her testimony);
  • Anything other than the eye-witness actions of the person under consideration for validation. All intelligence gathered which is based upon what someone else did or someone else said the suspected prisoner did, based on possession of pictures, names and addresses, or based on the individual writing certain other individuals, must be deemed “ghost intelligence,” outlaw procedure and must be immediately discarded.
People should be placed in SHU only after a finding of misconduct resulting from a disciplinary hearing which is based on facts and proven misconduct.

Second, a four year step down process is too long. Not only should SHU and Ad/Seg confinement be reserved for prisoners found guilty of committing serious rule violations, no term or step down process should be in excess of one year!

According to U.N. Special Rapporteur on Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman and Degrading Treatment or Punishment Juan Mendez, while speaking of Solitary Confinement on Oct. 8, 2011: “Indefinite and prolonged solitary confinement in excess of 15 days should also be subject to an absolute prohibition.” He cited scientific studies that have established that some lasting mental damage is caused after a few days of social isolation.

We sign this letter to reflect the sense of urgency that we feel. Arbitrary and indefinite solitary confinement is an absolute assault on humankind and a barbarity the likes of which cannot be tolerated. We hold the utmost respect for those prisoners who from the depths of Solitary Confinement throughout California risked their lives to be heard. We heard them and now we ask that you do the same.

Respectfully submitted,

Erwin Chemerinsky, Dean, UC Irvine Law School
Jackie Goldberg, Former State Assemblywoman
Tony Platt, Visiting Professor, Justice Studies, San Jose State University
Mike Davis, Professor of Creative Writing, UC Irvine
Susan Weissman, Professor of Politics, Saint Mary’s College of California
Susan Straight, Distinguished Professor of Creative Writing, UC Riverside, Novelist and Essayist, Columnist for KCET
Rebecca Solnit, Writer, San Francisco
Jon Weiner, Professor of History, UC Irvine; Contributing Editor, The Nation
Victor Valle, Writer and Professor of Ethnic Studies, California State Polytechnic University, San Luis Obispo
Amie Williams, Global Girl Executive Director and Co-Founder
Ben Ehrenreich, Author
Adam Shatz, London Review of Books
Sheila Kuehl, Former California State Senator
Patricia Morton, Chair and Associate Professor, Art History Department, UC Riverside
Marilyn Katz, President, MK Communications

Hundreds of California prisoners in Solitary Segregation Petition the United Nations to intervene

From the website of the Center for Human Rights & Constitutional Law:

California holds more prisoners in solitary confinement than any other state in the United States or any other nation on earth. The treatment of these prisoners is barbaric and numerous experts agree amounts to torture. It destroys their mental and physical health, and destroys them spiritually. They live like prisoners held in a Gulag, not a modern democracy. They are locked in solitary segregation merely because they may have associated with a gang, and remain in isolation until shown to be “gang free” for “six years.” These prisoners engaged in a widely publicized hunger strike during the summer of 2011, and are now suffering retaliation (more time in solitary segregation) because they had the courage to protest their treatment by refusing to eat.

Hundreds of prisoners have joined together to petition the United Nations to intervene by conducting on on-site investigation, permitting Red Cross visits, and ultimately ruling that the California’s policy on isolated segregation amounts to torture and violates well-established international human rights norms.

These prisoners are joined in their petition by a coalition of the following organizations: California Prison Focus; Center for Human Rights and Constitutional Law; Families to Amend California’s Three Strikes; Fair Chance Project; California Families to Abolish Solitary Confinement; Justice for Families; The Real Cost of Prisons Project; American Friends Service Committee; Community Futures Collective; Center for Prisoner Health and Human Rights; California Prison Moratorium Project; Legal Services for Prisoners with Children; and Disability Rights Legal Center.

The petition names as responding parties the United States of America, the State of California, Jerry Brown, Governor of the State of California, and Matthew Cate, Secretary, California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.

To obtain the United Nations Petition click HERE (PDF)

To obtain the 22 Quotes by main United Nations Petitioners click HERE (PDF)

See also the article in the Mercury News:

California inmates petition UN to monitor prisons
By Gillian Flaccus Associated PressAssociated Press
Posted: 03/20/2012 01:55:24 PM PDT
March 20, 2012 8:55 PM GMT Updated: 03/20/2012 01:55:24 PM PDT

LOS ANGELES — An attorney for hundreds of California inmates held in solitary confinement in the nation’s largest prison system because of their gang ties said Tuesday that he will petition the United Nations to intervene to stop the practice and launch an investigation into their living conditions and mental and physical health.

The petition, which asks the international body to allow an independent party to interview prisoners and review their medical files, comes after about 6,000 inmates at 13 prisons statewide went on a hunger strike last summer. They have since staged smaller and more intermittent strikes to protest what they call inhumane and torturous conditions in the so-called segregation housing units, or SHUs.

The petition announced Tuesday was drawn up on behalf of 400 inmates who wrote letters seeking help after being assigned to the isolation cells for years because of their gang ties, said Peter Schey, executive director of the Center for Human Rights and Constitutional Law. A half-dozen family members of inmates currently living in solitary confinement joined Schey at a news conference and shared stories of brothers, husbands and sons who have spent decades in the segregated cells.

“It’s one thing to place a person into solitary segregation because they’ve assaulted another prisoner or threatened another person with violence. We’re not arguing with that,” Schey said. “What we’re arguing is the vast majority of people … are being put in solitary and the key thrown away merely because they’re alleged to be a gang member or maybe even just an associate of a gang member. The punishment is barbaric compared to the allegations.”

Read the rest here:

http://www.mercurynews.com/breaking-news/ci_20215585/california-inmates-petition-un-monitor-prisons

Hundreds of California prisoners in Solitary Segregation Petition the United Nations to intervene

From the website of the Center for Human Rights & Constitutional Law:

California holds more prisoners in solitary confinement than any other state in the United States or any other nation on earth. The treatment of these prisoners is barbaric and numerous experts agree amounts to torture. It destroys their mental and physical health, and destroys them spiritually. They live like prisoners held in a Gulag, not a modern democracy. They are locked in solitary segregation merely because they may have associated with a gang, and remain in isolation until shown to be “gang free” for “six years.” These prisoners engaged in a widely publicized hunger strike during the summer of 2011, and are now suffering retaliation (more time in solitary segregation) because they had the courage to protest their treatment by refusing to eat.

Hundreds of prisoners have joined together to petition the United Nations to intervene by conducting on on-site investigation, permitting Red Cross visits, and ultimately ruling that the California’s policy on isolated segregation amounts to torture and violates well-established international human rights norms.

These prisoners are joined in their petition by a coalition of the following organizations: California Prison Focus; Center for Human Rights and Constitutional Law; Families to Amend California’s Three Strikes; Fair Chance Project; California Families to Abolish Solitary Confinement; Justice for Families; The Real Cost of Prisons Project; American Friends Service Committee; Community Futures Collective; Center for Prisoner Health and Human Rights; California Prison Moratorium Project; Legal Services for Prisoners with Children; and Disability Rights Legal Center.

The petition names as responding parties the United States of America, the State of California, Jerry Brown, Governor of the State of California, and Matthew Cate, Secretary, California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.

To obtain the United Nations Petition click HERE (PDF)

To obtain the 22 Quotes by main United Nations Petitioners click HERE (PDF)

See also the article in the Mercury News:

California inmates petition UN to monitor prisons
By Gillian Flaccus Associated PressAssociated Press
Posted: 03/20/2012 01:55:24 PM PDT
March 20, 2012 8:55 PM GMT Updated: 03/20/2012 01:55:24 PM PDT

LOS ANGELES — An attorney for hundreds of California inmates held in solitary confinement in the nation’s largest prison system because of their gang ties said Tuesday that he will petition the United Nations to intervene to stop the practice and launch an investigation into their living conditions and mental and physical health.

The petition, which asks the international body to allow an independent party to interview prisoners and review their medical files, comes after about 6,000 inmates at 13 prisons statewide went on a hunger strike last summer. They have since staged smaller and more intermittent strikes to protest what they call inhumane and torturous conditions in the so-called segregation housing units, or SHUs.

The petition announced Tuesday was drawn up on behalf of 400 inmates who wrote letters seeking help after being assigned to the isolation cells for years because of their gang ties, said Peter Schey, executive director of the Center for Human Rights and Constitutional Law. A half-dozen family members of inmates currently living in solitary confinement joined Schey at a news conference and shared stories of brothers, husbands and sons who have spent decades in the segregated cells.

“It’s one thing to place a person into solitary segregation because they’ve assaulted another prisoner or threatened another person with violence. We’re not arguing with that,” Schey said. “What we’re arguing is the vast majority of people … are being put in solitary and the key thrown away merely because they’re alleged to be a gang member or maybe even just an associate of a gang member. The punishment is barbaric compared to the allegations.”

Read the rest here:

http://www.mercurynews.com/breaking-news/ci_20215585/california-inmates-petition-un-monitor-prisons

UN: Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners

Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights:
Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners

Text in PDF Format

Adopted by the First United Nations Congress on the Prevention of Crime and the Treatment of Offenders, held at Geneva in 1955, and approved by the Economic and Social Council by its resolutions 663 C (XXIV) of 31 July 1957 and 2076 (LXII) of 13 May 1977

PRELIMINARY OBSERVATIONS

1. The following rules are not intended to describe in detail a model system of penal institutions. They seek only, on the basis of the general consensus of contemporary thought and the essential elements of the most adequate systems of today, to set out what is generally accepted as being good principle and practice in the treatment of prisoners and the management of institutions.

2. In view of the great variety of legal, social, economic and geographical conditions of the world, it is evident that not all of the rules are capable of application in all places and at all times. They should, however, serve to stimulate a constant endeavour to overcome practical difficulties in the way of their application, in the knowledge that they represent, as a whole, the minimum conditions which are accepted as suitable by the United Nations.

3. On the other hand, the rules cover a field in which thought is constantly developing. They are not intended to preclude experiment and practices, provided these are in harmony with the principles and seek to further the purposes which derive from the text of the rules as a whole. It will always be justifiable for the central prison administration to authorize departures from the rules in this spirit.

4. (1) Part I of the rules covers the general management of institutions, and is applicable to all categories of prisoners, criminal or civil, untried or convicted, including prisoners subject to “security measures” or corrective measures ordered by the judge.

(2) Part II contains rules applicable only to the special categories dealt with in each section. Nevertheless, the rules under section A, applicable to prisoners under sentence, shall be equally applicable to categories of prisoners dealt with in sections B, C and D, provided they do not conflict with the rules governing those categories and are for their benefit.

5. (1) The rules do not seek to regulate the management of institutions set aside for young persons such as Borstal institutions or correctional schools, but in general part I would be equally applicable in such institutions.

(2) The category of young prisoners should include at least all young persons who come within the jurisdiction of juvenile courts. As a rule, such young persons should not be sentenced to imprisonment.

Part I

RULES OF GENERAL APPLICATION

Basic principle

6. (1) The following rules shall be applied impartially. There shall be no discrimination on grounds of race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status.

(2) On the other hand, it is necessary to respect the religious beliefs and moral precepts of the group to which a prisoner belongs.

Register

7. (1) In every place where persons are imprisoned there shall be kept a bound registration book with numbered pages in which shall be entered in respect of each prisoner received:

( a ) Information concerning his identity;

( b ) The reasons for his commitment and the authority therefor;

( c ) The day and hour of his admission and release.

(2) No person shall be received in an institution without a valid commitment order of which the details shall have been previously entered in the register.

Separation of categories

8. The different categories of prisoners shall be kept in separate institutions or parts of institutions taking account of their sex, age, criminal record, the legal reason for their detention and the necessities of their treatment. Thus,

( a ) Men and women shall so far as possible be detained in separate institutions; in an institution which receives both men and women the whole of the premises allocated to women shall be entirely separate;

( b ) Untried prisoners shall be kept separate from convicted prisoners;

( c ) Persons imprisoned for debt and other civil prisoners shall be kept separate from persons imprisoned by reason of a criminal offence;

( d ) Young prisoners shall be kept separate from adults.

Accommodation

9. (1) Where sleeping accommodation is in individual cells or rooms, each prisoner shall occupy by night a cell or room by himself. If for special reasons, such as temporary overcrowding, it becomes necessary for the central prison administration to make an exception to this rule, it is not desirable to have two prisoners in a cell or room.

(2) Where dormitories are used, they shall be occupied by prisoners carefully selected as being suitable to associate with one another in those conditions. There shall be regular supervision by night, in keeping with the nature of the institution.

10. All accommodation provided for the use of prisoners and in particular all sleeping accommodation shall meet all requirements of health, due regard being paid to climatic conditions and particularly to cubic content of air, minimum floor space, lighting, heating and ventilation.

11. In all places where prisoners are required to live or work,

( a ) The windows shall be large enough to enable the prisoners to read or work by natural light, and shall be so constructed that they can allow the entrance of fresh air whether or not there is artificial ventilation;

( b ) Artificial light shall be provided sufficient for the prisoners to read or work without injury to eyesight.

12. The sanitary installations shall be adequate to enable every prisoner to comply with the needs of nature when necessary and in a clean and decent manner.

13. Adequate bathing and shower installations shall be provided so that every prisoner may be enabled and required to have a bath or shower, at a temperature suitable to the climate, as frequently as necessary for general hygiene according to season and geographical region, but at least once a week in a temperate climate.

14. All parts of an institution regularly used by prisoners shall be properly maintained and kept scrupulously clean at all times.

Personal hygiene

15. Prisoners shall be required to keep their persons clean, and to this end they shall be provided with water and with such toilet articles as are necessary for health and cleanliness.

16. In order that prisoners may maintain a good appearance compatible with their self-respect, facilities shall be provided for the proper care of the hair and beard, and men shall be enabled to shave regularly.

Clothing and bedding

17. (1) Every prisoner who is not allowed to wear his own clothing shall be provided with an outfit of clothing suitable for the climate and adequate to keep him in good health. Such clothing shall in no manner be degrading or humiliating.

(2) All clothing shall be clean and kept in proper condition. Underclothing shall be changed and washed as often as necessary for the maintenance of hygiene.

(3) In exceptional circumstances, whenever a prisoner is removed outside the institution for an authorized purpose, he shall be allowed to wear his own clothing or other inconspicuous clothing.

18. If prisoners are allowed to wear their own clothing, arrangements shall be made on their admission to the institution to ensure that it shall be clean and fit for use.

19. Every prisoner shall, in accordance with local or national standards, be provided with a separate bed, and with separate and sufficient bedding which shall be clean when issued, kept in good order and changed often enough to ensure its cleanliness.

Food

20. (1) Every prisoner shall be provided by the administration at the usual hours with food of nutritional value adequate for health and strength, of wholesome quality and well prepared and served.

(2) Drinking water shall be available to every prisoner whenever he needs it.

Exercise and sport

21. (1) Every prisoner who is not employed in outdoor work shall have at least one hour of suitable exercise in the open air daily if the weather permits.

(2) Young prisoners, and others of suitable age and physique, shall receive physical and recreational training during the period of exercise. To this end space, installations and equipment should be provided.

Medical services

22. (1) At every institution there shall be available the services of at least one qualified medical officer who should have some knowledge of psychiatry. The medical services should be organized in close relationship to the general health administration of the community or nation. They shall include a psychiatric service for the diagnosis and, in proper cases, the treatment of states of mental abnormality.

(2) Sick prisoners who require specialist treatment shall be transferred to specialized institutions or to civil hospitals. Where hospital facilities are provided in an institution, their equipment, furnishings and pharmaceutical supplies shall be proper for the medical care and treatment of sick prisoners, and there shall be a staff of suitable trained officers.

(3) The services of a qualified dental officer shall be available to every prisoner.

23. (1) In women’s institutions there shall be special accommodation for all necessary pre-natal and post-natal care and treatment. Arrangements shall be made wherever practicable for children to be born in a hospital outside the institution. If a child is born in prison, this fact shall not be mentioned in the birth certificate.

(2) Where nursing infants are allowed to remain in the institution with their mothers, provision shall be made for a nursery staffed by qualified persons, where the infants shall be placed when they are not in the care of their mothers.

24. The medical officer shall see and examine every prisoner as soon as possible after his admission and thereafter as necessary, with a view particularly to the discovery of physical or mental illness and the taking of all necessary measures; the segregation of prisoners suspected of infectious or contagious conditions; the noting of physical or mental defects which might hamper rehabilitation, and the determination of the physical capacity of every prisoner for work.

25. (1) The medical officer shall have the care of the physical and mental health of the prisoners and should daily see all sick prisoners, all who complain of illness, and any prisoner to whom his attention is specially directed.

(2) The medical officer shall report to the director whenever he considers that a prisoner’s physical or mental health has been or will be injuriously affected by continued imprisonment or by any condition of imprisonment.

26. (1) The medical officer shall regularly inspect and advise the director upon:

( a ) The quantity, quality, preparation and service of food;

( b ) The hygiene and cleanliness of the institution and the prisoners;

( c ) The sanitation, heating, lighting and ventilation of the institution;

( d ) The suitability and cleanliness of the prisoners’ clothing and bedding;

( e ) The observance of the rules concerning physical education and sports, in cases where there is no technical personnel in charge of these activities.

(2) The director shall take into consideration the reports and advice that the medical officer submits according to rules 25 (2) and 26 and, in case he concurs with the recommendations made, shall take immediate steps to give effect to those recommendations; if they are not within his competence or if he does not concur with them, he shall immediately submit his own report and the advice of the medical officer to higher authority.

Discipline and punishment

27. Discipline and order shall be maintained with firmness, but with no more restriction than is necessary for safe custody and well-ordered community life.

28. (1) No prisoner shall be employed, in the service of the institution, in any disciplinary capacity.

(2) This rule shall not, however, impede the proper functioning of systems based on self-government, under which specified social, educational or sports activities or responsibilities are entrusted, under supervision, to prisoners who are formed into groups for the purposes of treatment.

29. The following shall always be determined by the law or by the regulation of the competent administrative authority:

( a ) Conduct constituting a disciplinary offence;

( b ) The types and duration of punishment which may be inflicted;

( c ) The authority competent to impose such punishment.

30. (1) No prisoner shall be punished except in accordance with the terms of such law or regulation, and never twice for the same offence.

(2) No prisoner shall be punished unless he has been informed of the offence alleged against him and given a proper opportunity of presenting his defence. The competent authority shall conduct a thorough examination of the case.

(3) Where necessary and practicable the prisoner shall be allowed to make his defence through an interpreter.

31. Corporal punishment, punishment by placing in a dark cell, and all cruel, inhuman or degrading punishments shall be completely prohibited as punishments for disciplinary offences.

32. (1) Punishment by close confinement or reduction of diet shall never be inflicted unless the medical officer has examined the prisoner and certified in writing that he is fit to sustain it.

(2) The same shall apply to any other punishment that may be prejudicial to the physical or mental health of a prisoner. In no case may such punishment be contrary to or depart from the principle stated in rule 31.

(3) The medical officer shall visit daily prisoners undergoing such punishments and shall advise the director if he considers the termination or alteration of the punishment necessary on grounds of physical or mental health.

Instruments of restraint

33. Instruments of restraint, such as handcuffs, chains, irons and strait-jackets, shall never be applied as a punishment. Furthermore, chains or irons shall not be used as restraints. Other instruments of restraint shall not be used except in the following circumstances:

( a ) As a precaution against escape during a transfer, provided that they shall be removed when the prisoner appears before a judicial or administrative authority;

( b ) On medical grounds by direction of the medical officer;

( c ) By order of the director, if other methods of control fail, in order to prevent a prisoner from injuring himself or others or from damaging property; in such instances the director shall at once consult the medical officer and report to the higher administrative authority.

34. The patterns and manner of use of instruments of restraint shall be decided by the central prison administration. Such instruments must not be applied for any longer time than is strictly necessary.

Information to and complaints by prisoners

35. (1) Every prisoner on admission shall be provided with written information about the regulations governing the treatment of prisoners of his category, the disciplinary requirements of the institution, the authorized methods of seeking information and making complaints, and all such other matters as are necessary to enable him to understand both his rights and his obligations and to adapt himself to the life of the institution.

(2) If a prisoner is illiterate, the aforesaid information shall be conveyed to him orally.

36. (1) Every prisoner shall have the opportunity each week day of making requests or complaints to the director of the institution or the officer authorized to represent him.

(2) It shall be possible to make requests or complaints to the inspector of prisons during his inspection. The prisoner shall have the opportunity to talk to the inspector or to any other inspecting officer without the director or other members of the staff being present.

(3) Every prisoner shall be allowed to make a request or complaint, without censorship as to substance but in proper form, to the central prison administration, the judicial authority or other proper authorities through approved channels.

(4) Unless it is evidently frivolous or groundless, every request or complaint shall be promptly dealt with and replied to without undue delay.

Contact with the outside world

37. Prisoners shall be allowed under necessary supervision to communicate with their family and reputable friends at regular intervals, both by correspondence and by receiving visits.

38. (1) Prisoners who are foreign nationals shall be allowed reasonable facilities to communicate with the diplomatic and consular representatives of the State to which they belong.

(2) Prisoners who are nationals of States without diplomatic or consular representation in the country and refugees or stateless persons shall be allowed similar facilities to communicate with the diplomatic representative of the State which takes charge of their interests or any national or international authority whose task it is to protect such persons.

39. Prisoners shall be kept informed regularly of the more important items of news by the reading of newspapers, periodicals or special institutional publications, by hearing wireless transmissions, by lectures or by any similar means as authorized or controlled by the administration.

Books

40. Every institution shall have a library for the use of all categories of prisoners, adequately stocked with both recreational and instructional books, and prisoners shall be encouraged to make full use of it.

Religion

41. (1) If the institution contains a sufficient number of prisoners of the same religion, a qualified representative of that religion shall be appointed or approved. If the number of prisoners justifies it and conditions permit, the arrangement should be on a full-time basis.

(2) A qualified representative appointed or approved under paragraph (1) shall be allowed to hold regular services and to pay pastoral visits in private to prisoners of his religion at proper times.

(3) Access to a qualified representative of any religion shall not be refused to any prisoner. On the other hand, if any prisoner should object to a visit of any religious representative, his attitude shall be fully respected.

42. So far as practicable, every prisoner shall be allowed to satisfy the needs of his religious life by attending the services provided in the institution and having in his possession the books of religious observance and instruction of his denomination.

Retention of prisoners’ property

43. (1) All money, valuables, clothing and other effects belonging to a prisoner which under the regulations of the institution he is not allowed to retain shall on his admission to the institution be placed in safe custody. An inventory thereof shall be signed by the prisoner. Steps shall be taken to keep them in good condition.

(2) On the release of the prisoner all such articles and money shall be returned to him except in so far as he has been authorized to spend money or send any such property out of the institution, or it has been found necessary on hygienic grounds to destroy any article of clothing. The prisoner shall sign a receipt for the articles and money returned to him.

(3) Any money or effects received for a prisoner from outside shall be treated in the same way.

(4) If a prisoner brings in any drugs or medicine, the medical officer shall decide what use shall be made of them.

Notification of death, illness, transfer, etc.

44. (1) Upon the death or serious illness of, or serious injury to a prisoner, or his removal to an institution for the treatment of mental affections, the director shall at once inform the spouse, if the prisoner is married, or the nearest relative and shall in any event inform any other person previously designated by the prisoner.

(2) A prisoner shall be informed at once of the death or serious illness of any near relative. In case of the critical illness of a near relative, the prisoner should be authorized, whenever circumstances allow, to go to his bedside either under escort or alone.

(3) Every prisoner shall have the right to inform at once his family of his imprisonment or his transfer to another institution.

Removal of prisoners

45. (1) When the prisoners are being removed to or from an institution, they shall be exposed to public view as little as possible, and proper safeguards shall be adopted to protect them from insult, curiosity and publicity in any form.

(2) The transport of prisoners in conveyances with inadequate ventilation or light, or in any way which would subject them to unnecessary physical hardship, shall be prohibited.

(3) The transport of prisoners shall be carried out at the expense of the administration and equal conditions shall obtain for all of them.

Institutional personnel

46. (1) The prison administration shall provide for the careful selection of every grade of the personnel, since it is on their integrity, humanity, professional capacity and personal suitability for the work that the proper administration of the institutions depends.

(2) The prison administration shall constantly seek to awaken and maintain in the minds both of the personnel and of the public the conviction that this work is a social service of great importance, and to this end all appropriate means of informing the public should be used.

(3) To secure the foregoing ends, personnel shall be appointed on a full-time basis as professional prison officers and have civil service status with security of tenure subject only to good conduct, efficiency and physical fitness. Salaries shall be adequate to attract and retain suitable men and women; employment benefits and conditions of service shall be favourable in view of the exacting nature of the work.

47. (1) The personnel shall possess an adequate standard of education and intelligence.

(2) Before entering on duty, the personnel shall be given a course of training in their general and specific duties and be required to pass theoretical and practical tests.

(3) After entering on duty and during their career, the personnel shall maintain and improve their knowledge and professional capacity by attending courses of in-service training to be organized at suitable intervals.

48. All members of the personnel shall at all times so conduct themselves and perform their duties as to influence the prisoners for good by their example and to command their respect.

49. (1) So far as possible, the personnel shall include a sufficient number of specialists such as psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers, teachers and trade instructors.

(2) The services of social workers, teachers and trade instructors shall be secured on a permanent basis, without thereby excluding part-time or voluntary workers.

50. (1) The director of an institution should be adequately qualified for his task by character, administrative ability, suitable training and experience.

(2) He shall devote his entire time to his official duties and shall not be appointed on a part-time basis.

(3) He shall reside on the premises of the institution or in its immediate vicinity.

(4) When two or more institutions are under the authority of one director, he shall visit each of them at frequent intervals. A responsible resident official shall be in charge of each of these institutions.

51. (1) The director, his deputy, and the majority of the other personnel of the institution shall be able to speak the language of the greatest number of prisoners, or a language understood by the greatest number of them.

(2) Whenever necessary, the services of an interpreter shall be used.

52. (1) In institutions which are large enough to require the services of one or more full-time medical officers, at least one of them shall reside on the premises of the institution or in its immediate vicinity.

(2) In other institutions the medical officer shall visit daily and shall reside near enough to be able to attend without delay in cases of urgency.

53. (1) In an institution for both men and women, the part of the institution set aside for women shall be under the authority of a responsible woman officer who shall have the custody of the keys of all that part of the institution.

(2) No male member of the staff shall enter the part of the institution set aside for women unless accompanied by a woman officer.

(3) Women prisoners shall be attended and supervised only by women officers. This does not, however, preclude male members of the staff, particularly doctors and teachers, from carrying out their professional duties in institutions or parts of institutions set aside for women.

54. (1) Officers of the institutions shall not, in their relations with the prisoners, use force except in self-defence or in cases of attempted escape, or active or passive physical resistance to an order based on law or regulations. Officers who have recourse to force must use no more than is strictly necessary and must report the incident immediately to the director of the institution.

(2) Prison officers shall be given special physical training to enable them to restrain aggressive prisoners.

(3) Except in special circumstances, staff performing duties which bring them into direct contact with prisoners should not be armed. Furthermore, staff should in no circumstances be provided with arms unless they have been trained in their use.

Inspection

55. There shall be a regular inspection of penal institutions and services by qualified and experienced inspectors appointed by a competent authority. Their task shall be in particular to ensure that these institutions are administered in accordance with existing laws and regulations and with a view to bringing about the objectives of penal and correctional services.

Part II

RULES APPLICABLE TO SPECIAL CATEGORIES

A. Prisoners under sentence
Guiding principles

56. The guiding principles hereafter are intended to show the spirit in which penal institutions should be administered and the purposes at which they should aim, in accordance with the declaration made under Preliminary Observation 1 of the present text.

57. Imprisonment and other measures which result in cutting off an offender from the outside world are afflictive by the very fact of taking from the person the right of self-determination by depriving him of his liberty. Therefore the prison system shall not, except as incidental to justifiable segregation or the maintenance of discipline, aggravate the suffering inherent in such a situation.

58. The purpose and justification of a sentence of imprisonment or a similar measure deprivative of liberty is ultimately to protect society against crime. This end can only be achieved if the period of imprisonment is used to ensure, so far as possible, that upon his return to society the offender is not only willing but able to lead a law-abiding and self-supporting life.

59. To this end, the institution should utilize all the remedial, educational, moral, spiritual and other forces and forms of assistance which are appropriate and available, and should seek to apply them according to the individual treatment needs of the prisoners.

60. (1) The regime of the institution should seek to minimize any differences between prison life and life at liberty which tend to lessen the responsibility of the prisoners or the respect due to their dignity as human beings.

(2) Before the completion of the sentence, it is desirable that the necessary steps be taken to ensure for the prisoner a gradual return to life in society. This aim may be achieved, depending on the case, by a pre-release regime organized in the same institution or in another appropriate institution, or by release on trial under some kind of supervision which must not be entrusted to the police but should be combined with effective social aid.

61. The treatment of prisoners should emphasize not their exclusion from the community, but their continuing part in it. Community agencies should, therefore, be enlisted wherever possible to assist the staff of the institution in the task of social rehabilitation of the prisoners. There should be in connection with every institution social workers charged with the duty of maintaining and improving all desirable relations of a prisoner with his family and with valuable social agencies. Steps should be taken to safeguard, to the maximum extent compatible with the law and the sentence, the rights relating to civil interests, social security rights and other social benefits of prisoners.

62. The medical services of the institution shall seek to detect and shall treat any physical or mental illnesses or defects which may hamper a prisoner’s rehabilitation. All necessary medical, surgical and psychiatric services shall be provided to that end.

63. (1) The fulfilment of these principles requires individualization of treatment and for this purpose a flexible system of classifying prisoners in groups; it is therefore desirable that such groups should be distributed in separate institutions suitable for the treatment of each group.

(2) These institutions need not provide the same degree of security for every group. It is desirable to provide varying degrees of security according to the needs of different groups. Open institutions, by the very fact that they provide no physical security against escape but rely on the self-discipline of the inmates, provide the conditions most favourable to rehabilitation for carefully selected prisoners.

(3) It is desirable that the number of prisoners in closed institutions should not be so large that the individualization of treatment is hindered. In some countries it is considered that the population of such institutions should not exceed five hundred. In open institutions the population should be as small as possible.

(4) On the other hand, it is undesirable to maintain prisons which are so small that proper facilities cannot be provided.

64. The duty of society does not end with a prisoner’s release. There should, therefore, be governmental or private agencies capable of lending the released prisoner efficient after-care directed towards the lessening of prejudice against him and towards his social rehabilitation.

Treatment

65. The treatment of persons sentenced to imprisonment or a similar measure shall have as its purpose, so far as the length of the sentence permits, to establish in them the will to lead law-abiding and self-supporting lives after their release and to fit them to do so. The treatment shall be such as will encourage their self-respect and develop their sense of responsibility.

66. (1) To these ends, all appropriate means shall be used, including religious care in the countries where this is possible, education, vocational guidance and training, social casework, employment counselling, physical development and strengthening of moral character, in accordance with the individual needs of each prisoner, taking account of his social and criminal history, his physical and mental capacities and aptitudes, his personal temperament, the length of his sentence and his prospects after release.

(2) For every prisoner with a sentence of suitable length, the director shall receive, as soon as possible after his admission, full reports on all the matters referred to in the foregoing paragraph. Such reports shall always include a report by a medical officer, wherever possible qualified in psychiatry, on the physical and mental condition of the prisoner.

(3) The reports and other relevant documents shall be placed in an individual file. This file shall be kept up to date and classified in such a way that it can be consulted by the responsible personnel whenever the need arises.

Classification and individualization

67. The purposes of classification shall be:

( a ) To separate from others those prisoners who, by reason of their criminal records or bad characters, are likely to exercise a bad influence;

( b ) To divide the prisoners into classes in order to facilitate their treatment with a view to their social rehabilitation.

68. So far as possible separate institutions or separate sections of an institution shall be used for the treatment of the different classes of prisoners.

69. As soon as possible after admission and after a study of the personality of each prisoner with a sentence of suitable length, a programme of treatment shall be prepared for him in the light of the knowledge obtained about his individual needs, his capacities and dispositions.

Privileges

70. Systems of privileges appropriate for the different classes of prisoners and the different methods of treatment shall be established at every institution, in order to encourage good conduct, develop a sense of responsibility and secure the interest and co-operation of the prisoners in their treatment.

Work

71. (1) Prison labour must not be of an afflictive nature.

(2) All prisoners under sentence shall be required to work, subject to their physical and mental fitness as determined by the medical officer.

(3) Sufficient work of a useful nature shall be provided to keep prisoners actively employed for a normal working day.

(4) So far as possible the work provided shall be such as will maintain or increase the prisoners, ability to earn an honest living after release.

(5) Vocational training in useful trades shall be provided for prisoners able to profit thereby and especially for young prisoners.

(6) Within the limits compatible with proper vocational selection and with the requirements of institutional administration and discipline, the prisoners shall be able to choose the type of work they wish to perform.

72. (1) The organization and methods of work in the institutions shall resemble as closely as possible those of similar work outside institutions, so as to prepare prisoners for the conditions of normal occupational life.

(2) The interests of the prisoners and of their vocational training, however, must not be subordinated to the purpose of making a financial profit from an industry in the institution.

73. (1) Preferably institutional industries and farms should be operated directly by the administration and not by private contractors.

(2) Where prisoners are employed in work not controlled by the administration, they shall always be under the supervision of the institution’s personnel. Unless the work is for other departments of the government the full normal wages for such work shall be paid to the administration by the persons to whom the labour is supplied, account being taken of the output of the prisoners.

74. (1) The precautions laid down to protect the safety and health of free workmen shall be equally observed in institutions.

(2) Provision shall be made to indemnify prisoners against industrial injury, including occupational disease, on terms not less favourable than those extended by law to free workmen.

75. (1) The maximum daily and weekly working hours of the prisoners shall be fixed by law or by administrative regulation, taking into account local rules or custom in regard to the employment of free workmen.

(2) The hours so fixed shall leave one rest day a week and sufficient time for education and other activities required as part of the treatment and rehabilitation of the prisoners.

76. (1) There shall be a system of equitable remuneration of the work of prisoners.

(2) Under the system prisoners shall be allowed to spend at least a part of their earnings on approved articles for their own use and to send a part of their earnings to their family.

(3) The system should also provide that a part of the earnings should be set aside by the administration so as to constitute a savings fund to be handed over to the prisoner on his release.

Education and recreation

77. (1) Provision shall be made for the further education of all prisoners capable of profiting thereby, including religious instruction in the countries where this is possible. The education of illiterates and young prisoners shall be compulsory and special attention shall be paid to it by the administration.

(2) So far as practicable, the education of prisoners shall be integrated with the educational system of the country so that after their release they may continue their education without difficulty.

78. Recreational and cultural activities shall be provided in all institutions for the benefit of the mental and physical health of prisoners.

Social relations and after-care

79. Special attention shall be paid to the maintenance and improvement of such relations between a prisoner and his family as are desirable in the best interests of both.

80. From the beginning of a prisoner’s sentence consideration shall be given to his future after release and he shall be encouraged and assisted to maintain or establish such relations with persons or agencies outside the institution as may promote the best interests of his family and his own social rehabilitation.

81. (1) Services and agencies, governmental or otherwise, which assist released prisoners to re-establish themselves in society shall ensure, so far as is possible and necessary, that released prisoners be provided with appropriate documents and identification papers, have suitable s and work to go to, are suitably and adequately clothed having regard to the climate and season, and have sufficient means to reach their destination and maintain themselves in the period immediately following their release.

(2) The approved representatives of such agencies shall have all necessary access to the institution and to prisoners and shall be taken into consultation as to the future of a prisoner from the beginning of his sentence.

(3) It is desirable that the activities of such agencies shall be centralized or co-ordinated as far as possible in order to secure the best use of their efforts.

B. Insane and mentally abnormal prisoners

82. (1) Persons who are found to be insane shall not be detained in prisons and arrangements shall be made to remove them to mental institutions as soon as possible.

(2) Prisoners who suffer from other mental diseases or abnormalities shall be observed and treated in specialized institutions under medical management.

(3) During their stay in a prison, such prisoners shall be placed under the special supervision of a medical officer.

(4) The medical or psychiatric service of the penal institutions shall provide for the psychiatric treatment of all other prisoners who are in need of such treatment.

83. It is desirable that steps should be taken, by arrangement with the appropriate agencies, to ensure if necessary the continuation of psychiatric treatment after release and the provision of social-psychiatric after-care.

C. Prisoners under arrest or awaiting trial

84. (1) Persons arrested or imprisoned by reason of a criminal charge against them, who are detained either in police custody or in prison custody (jail) but have not yet been tried and sentenced, will be referred to as “untried prisoners” hereinafter in these rules.

(2) Unconvicted prisoners are presumed to be innocent and shall be treated as such.

(3) Without prejudice to legal rules for the protection of individual liberty or prescribing the procedure to be observed in respect of untried prisoners, these prisoners shall benefit by a special regime which is described in the following rules in its essential requirements only.

85. (1) Untried prisoners shall be kept separate from convicted prisoners.

(2) Young untried prisoners shall be kept separate from adults and shall in principle be detained in separate institutions.

86. Untried prisoners shall sleep singly in separate rooms, with the reservation of different local custom in respect of the climate.

87. Within the limits compatible with the good order of the institution, untried prisoners may, if they so desire, have their food procured at their own expense from the outside, either through the administration or through their family or friends. Otherwise, the administration shall provide their food.

88. (1) An untried prisoner shall be allowed to wear his own clothing if it is clean and suitable.

(2) If he wears prison dress, it shall be different from that supplied to convicted prisoners.

89. An untried prisoner shall always be offered opportunity to work, but shall not be required to work. If he chooses to work, he shall be paid for it.

90. An untried prisoner shall be allowed to procure at his own expense or at the expense of a third party such books, newspapers, writing materials and other means of occupation as are compatible with the interests of the administration of justice and the security and good order of the institution.

91. An untried prisoner shall be allowed to be visited and treated by his own doctor or dentist if there is reasonable ground for his application and he is able to pay any expenses incurred.

92. An untried prisoner shall be allowed to inform immediately his family of his detention and shall be given all reasonable facilities for communicating with his family and friends, and for receiving visits from them, subject only to restrictions and supervision as are necessary in the interests of the administration of justice and of the security and good order of the institution.

93. For the purposes of his defence, an untried prisoner shall be allowed to apply for free legal aid where such aid is available, and to receive visits from his legal adviser with a view to his defence and to prepare and hand to him confidential instructions. For these purposes, he shall if he so desires be supplied with writing material. Interviews between the prisoner and his legal adviser may be within sight but not within the hearing of a police or institution official.

D. Civil prisoners

94. In countries where the law permits imprisonment for debt, or by order of a court under any other non-criminal process, persons so imprisoned shall not be subjected to any greater restriction or severity than is necessary to ensure safe custody and good order. Their treatment shall be not less favourable than that of untried prisoners, with the reservation, however, that they may possibly be required to work.

E. Persons arrested or detained without charge

95. Without prejudice to the provisions of article 9 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, persons arrested or imprisoned without charge shall be accorded the same protection as that accorded under part I and part II, section C. Relevant provisions of part II, section A, shall likewise be applicable where their application may be conducive to the benefit of this special group of persons in custody, provided that no measures shall be taken implying that re-education or rehabilitation is in any way appropriate to persons not convicted of any criminal offence.