Safety, order and discipline
Photo: Staton Winter / UN

Solitary confinement consists in keeping an inmate alone in a cell for over 22 hours a day. 
Because of the harmful effect on the person’s physical and mental well-being, solitary confinement should only be used in exceptional circumstances. It should be strictly supervised and used only for a limited period of time.

Under certain circumstances, solitary confinement can amount to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment, or...

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The primary purpose of separation is to ensure the protection and safety of persons deprived of their liberty, and the optimal management of prisons. It is also a measure to preserve the principle of the presumption of innocence of untried persons and to provide the most appropriate prison conditions for each category of detainees.

As a matter of principle, women should be separated from men, minors from adults, and untried...

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In prison, it is sometimes necessary, for security reasons, to conduct body searches of detainees. The aim of body searches is to avoid bringing in and trafficking banned or dangerous substances and objects (e.g. weapons, drugs, or mobile phones).

There are three types of body searches:

• frisking (or pat-down): the detainee remains dressed;
• visual inspections: the detainee must undress and is...

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In all penitentiaries authorities must sometimes conduct searches of either some of the premises or all of the premises with a view to maintaining order and security and, more specifically, to prevent prison breaks or to put an end to illegal possession and trafficking of banned products and objects. Cell and dormitory searches are part of the surveillance system.

However, cell searches are particular in that they, on the...

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In prisons, recourse to force must always be the exception and it must always be used as a last resort. There are only three strictly defined situations which may justify the use of force:

1) In the case of legitimate self-defence, when there is an immediate threat of physical violence to a member of the prison staff, a co-detainee or a third party;

2) in the case of an attempted escape;

3) in the case of...

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Means of restraint are instruments intended to restrain or temporarily limit the freedom of movement of a person without injuring him/her, for example, handcuffs, straps, straitjackets, or restraining beds.

The use of means of restraint must be forbidden except in very specific and strictly regulated situations. Therefore, such means must not be used for longer than is strictly necessary and only in order to prevent the risk...

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The disciplinary regime establishes the rules of prison life by listing breaches of the internal regulations and the sanctions associated with these. The existence of disciplinary procedures is essential to both the maintenance of order within prison establishments and the respect for the basic human rights of persons deprived of liberty.

Detainees must be familiar with the disciplinary rules and these must be respected by...

Browse detention issues

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Safety, order and discipline
Photo: Staton Winter / UN

Solitary confinement

Solitary confinement consists in keeping an inmate alone in a cell for over 22 hours a day. 
Because of the harmful effect on the person’s physical and mental well-being, solitary confinement should only be used in exceptional circumstances. It should be strictly supervised and used only for a limited period of time.

Under certain circumstances, solitary confinement can amount to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment, or...

Browse detention issues

Separation of detainees

The primary purpose of separation is to ensure the protection and safety of persons deprived of their liberty, and the optimal management of prisons. It is also a measure to preserve the principle of the presumption of innocence of untried persons and to provide the most appropriate prison conditions for each category of detainees.

As a matter of principle, women should be separated from men, minors from adults, and untried...

Browse detention issues

Body searches

In prison, it is sometimes necessary, for security reasons, to conduct body searches of detainees. The aim of body searches is to avoid bringing in and trafficking banned or dangerous substances and objects (e.g. weapons, drugs, or mobile phones).

There are three types of body searches:

• frisking (or pat-down): the detainee remains dressed;
• visual inspections: the detainee must undress and is...

Browse detention issues

Cell searches

In all penitentiaries authorities must sometimes conduct searches of either some of the premises or all of the premises with a view to maintaining order and security and, more specifically, to prevent prison breaks or to put an end to illegal possession and trafficking of banned products and objects. Cell and dormitory searches are part of the surveillance system.

However, cell searches are particular in that they, on the...

Browse detention issues

Use of force

In prisons, recourse to force must always be the exception and it must always be used as a last resort. There are only three strictly defined situations which may justify the use of force:

1) In the case of legitimate self-defence, when there is an immediate threat of physical violence to a member of the prison staff, a co-detainee or a third party;

2) in the case of an attempted escape;

3) in the case of...

Browse detention issues

Means of restraint

Means of restraint are instruments intended to restrain or temporarily limit the freedom of movement of a person without injuring him/her, for example, handcuffs, straps, straitjackets, or restraining beds.

The use of means of restraint must be forbidden except in very specific and strictly regulated situations. Therefore, such means must not be used for longer than is strictly necessary and only in order to prevent the risk...

Browse detention issues

Disciplinary measures

The disciplinary regime establishes the rules of prison life by listing breaches of the internal regulations and the sanctions associated with these. The existence of disciplinary procedures is essential to both the maintenance of order within prison establishments and the respect for the basic human rights of persons deprived of liberty.

Detainees must be familiar with the disciplinary rules and these must be respected by...

Browse detention issues