Inside Justice: A Comparative Analysis of Practices and Procedures for the Determination of Offenses against Discipline in Prisons of Britain and the United States

By Bayard Marin | Go to book overview
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3 Offenses

One wants to assume that there are valid goals which are furthered by proscribing certain conduct and that the punishments imposed therefor are appropriate. Most of the immediate goals of prison offenses are quite obviously revealed by the very nature of the proscriptions and punishments themselves. However, the conduct prohibited in many cases would seem quite acceptable outside of the prison setting. Thus, there should be aims, in addition to those immediately revealed, which justify the deprivations apparently deemed so necessary by prison authorities. In this chapter we shall look at the status or policies which prison offenses supposedly jeopardize.

First, the offenses must be set forth. We shall then venture into the prison environment and afterward return to offenses with a view to examining their relationship to the prison environment and the aims and goals of imprisonment.


Offenses

Internal prison offenses in Great Britain and, for the most part, in the United States are not set forth in prison statutes. Rather, they are normally found in delegated legislation thereunder or in subdelegated rules.1 In Great Britain, enumeration of prison offenses is at the statutory instrument level.2 While some American statutes do list offenses,3 the details are usually found in rules issued by each agency responsible for prisons either generally for institutions throughout the jurisdiction or for certain institutions within the jurisdiction. In some cases they are issued at the institutional level.4

Rule 47 of the Prison Rules lists twenty-one offenses as follows:


Table 1Offenses: England
47.A prisoner shall be guilty of an offence against discipline if he--
(1)mutinies or incites another prisoner to mutiny;
(2)does gross personal violence to an officer;
(3)does gross personal violence to any person not being an officer;
(4)commits any assault;
(5)escapes from prison or from legal custody;
(6)absents himself without permission from any place where he is required to be, whether
within or outside prison;
(7)has in his cell or room or in his possession any unauthorised article, or attempts to
obtain such an article;
(8)delivers to or receives from any person any unauthorised article;
(9)sells or delivers to any other person, without permission, anything he is allowed to
have only for his own use;

-47-

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