A Human Rights Approach to Prison Management

Birkbeck’s Institute for Criminal Policy Research has launched the third edition of a handbook hugely influential to prison managers and policy makers worldwide.

Professor Andrew Coyle speaking in Geneva

The Institute of Criminal Policy Research (ICPR) at Birkbeck has published the third edition of A Human Rights Approach to Prison Management: Handbook for Prison Staff, launched today at an event in conjunction with the International Committee of the Red Cross. The book is co-authored by Professor Andrew Coyle, Emeritus Professor of Prison Studies at the University of London, and Helen Fair, Research Fellow at the ICPR.

The handbook is hugely influential to prison studies scholars, prison managers and policymakers worldwide, with previous editions, published in 2003 and 2009, having been translated into 19 languages, with 70,000 copies distributed to intergovernmental agencies, national prison administrators and non-governmental organisations around the world.

Speaking in Geneva Professor Coyle said: “It is important to demonstrate that an observance of universal human rights standards is more necessary than ever in an insecure and uncertain world. This is necessary to protect those who, in whatever circumstances, are deprived of their liberty; it provides an ethical context for all of those whose task on behalf of society is to deprive people of their liberty; and it is important as a reminder for everyone who lives in a democratic society of what it is that provides the foundation of democracy and freedom.”

The book is based on the internationally agreed standards for the use of imprisonment and conditions of detention and it provides guidance for prison staff as to their implementation. It demonstrates that as well as providing an appropriate framework for the management of prisons, the international standards can be very effective in operational terms. It provides a basis for good prison management which can be applied in every prison system in the world.

The third edition has been updated to take account of a number of new international and regional standards, including the revised UN Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners (the Nelson Mandela Rules) and the Rules for the Treatment of Women Prisoners and Non-Custodial Measures for Women Offenders (the Bangkok Rules) as well as developing case law concerning the use of imprisonment.

The handbook can be downloaded here.

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