No living thing likes to be confined. The shaded plant seeks the sun. The trapped animal mutilates itself to escape. Since the first primitive human detained another, captors have been faced with the problem of controlling their captives. History demonstrates that administrative changes in prison procedures and, as will be seen later, judicial review thereof, lag demonstrably behind those outside the walls. The methods for determining prison offenses in Britain have not changed very greatly in the last 200 years. While Americans employed new methods of dealing with prisoners, sometimes emulated by the British, no claims can be made that American methods contributed significantly to making imprisonment more humane. Indeed, the history of prison regimes in both America and Britain is pocked by notable instances of inhumanity, often occurring in the name of reform. Thus, in both Britain and the United States the statutes and rules relating to institutional offenses have evolved over a long history and, indeed, one may suspect that the rules are the way they are simply because they have always been that way.1
Prison adjudications involve confrontations between prisoners and certain authorities. Thus, it is necessary at the outset to describe the statutory and administrative frameworks within which the participants must function. The participants themselves will receive attention in later chapters.2
The home secretary is the central authority for the prevention of crime and treatment of offenders in England and Wales. In Scotland, the secretary of state for Scotland holds authority over administration of prisons and related activities.3 The respective secretaries are members of Parliament and are answerable for their activities before that body. Indeed, as will be seen throughout this work, the availability of questioning in Parliament may be an avenue of complaint for prisoners and the answers of the ministers provide an excellent source of material for the researcher.
The authority within the Home Office directly responsible for administration, staffing, and building of prisons, borstals, detention centers, and remand centers is the Prison Department.4 The director general of the Prison Department is a deputy under secretary of state. In addition to his duties of overall supervision of the Prison Department, he is responsible for the parole scheme. His headquarters frames pertinent legislation, statutory rules, standing orders, and instructions and issues policy statements and guidance.
The Prison Department is divided into four regions. Beneath the regional offices are the various individual confinement facilities, each playing more or less a