Human Rights for Working Prisoners?

London: 1. Introduction – A few days ago it was highlighted in the press that the Association of Independent Meat Suppliers was in discussions with the Ministry of Justice. The aim of these was to explore how prisoners could be used to cover labour shortages, one of the many reported effects of Brexit. The scheme under which this could be done is the ‘Release under Temporary License’, which permits certain categories of prisoners who are on day release to work. Another group of prisoners who could work in this context are those with long sentences that are coming towards the end of these and who are idle for years while in prison (see further here). The justification of prison labour is controversial. Work in prison is not part of prisoners’ punishment: the European Prison Rules explicitly say that ‘[p]rison work shall be approached as a positive element of the prison regime and shall never be used as a punishment’ (Art. 26(1)). Instead, it is typically justified based on other reasons. A key reason is that prison work can promote prisoners’ reintegration in society by teaching them new skills and improving their employability. By improving employability, it can reduce recidivism. In addition to promoting prisoners’ reintegration, it can provide them with income that they can use to support their dependents while in prison, cover their own needs (such as buying credit for their phones) and make their life feel less boring and monotonous. The benefits of fair work in prison have been highlighted in research.

Read more; Virginia Mantouvalou, UK Labour Law Blog,

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