Punishment and degrading treatment are collective in jails and prisons. Some studies and courts view degrading treatment against human rights. This research essay entails the degrading treatment notion important to discard for some prisoners, an exception to severe criminals. The research about human rights, dignity, and respect illustrates key concepts about societal freedom, justice, and peace that should be followed. The current essay discusses the foundations of human rights and values required to maintain human dignity, even in prisons. The constitutionality of imprisonment is determined underage by the supreme court, no matter what is the sentence, offenders are to be treated with respect and provided due rights.
The research essay illustrates the role of degrading treatment in certain prisons of the UK and the US, where overcrowding is contributing to this notion. Imprisoned people are facing unhygienic conditions and no proper system to get food and medical aid. Judiciary favors human rights and highlights that if infliction of pain or excessive force is in good faith and not in a malicious way, it may be constitutional.
Degrading treatment is supposed to increase the social value of punishment. According to traditional research, this is true, and the punishment that comes from prisoners, any physical illness, or resentment of guards is not considered in the criminal justice system (Bersani& Doherty, 2018). In English criminal law, punishment is not explicitly defined. It is also not possible to determine the effective punishment ways. In literature, there is a long debate about criminal punishment. It is related to offenders’ perceptions and experiences. Criminal punishment is the correct amount of punishment imposed on criminals under different justifications. A precursor to this issue is what counts as punishment or degrading behavior for prisoners (Liebling, 2008). The paper will investigate the issue that prohibition on degrading treatment and punishment should not extend to all prisoners. The paper will discuss some background information, issues of imprisonment, and the impact of prison sentences.
The research question for this paper takes on the side, i.e., the prohibition of degrading treatment and punishment should not extend to all prisoners. The possibility of an exception is made to punish serious criminals, safeguard society, and help to improve the wellbeing of individuals.
Q: Should the prohibition on degrading treatment and punishment extend to all prisoners without exception? If so, why? If not, why not?
According to international laws, torture is an accountable crime. As per all the applicable instruments, it is completely forbidden offense, and under any conditions, it can’t be justified (Snacken, 2015). Traditional international laws can be formed due to this prohibition, which implies it is compulsory on every individual of the global community, in spite of whether a country has endorsed global treaties in which torture is specifically prohibited (Sharp & Budd, 2005). The widespread or systematic activity of torture develops an offense against humanity. The global community criticized torture and other inhuman, degrading, and cruel treatments in United Nations General Assembly by adopting the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948 (Wright, Jasinski, & Lanier, 2012). Furthermore, in 1975, in response to the dynamic practice by non-government organizations (NGOs), the General Assembly took up Declaration on the Protection of All Persons as of being dealt with torture and other inhuman, degrading and cruel treatments (Mowry, Pimentel, Sparks, & Hanlon, 2013).
For the purpose of successfully address the core causes of ill-treatment and other forms of torture, a straight deterrent policy should start with a comprehensive study of risk factors, such circumstances that develop the torture arising possibility (Thomson &Bernath, 2020). The common political atmosphere is a significant factor to understand, as an absence of political determination to forbid torture, the absence of clarity of governance, the absence of respect for the abidance of law and corruption of high level can be the reason of increasing the torture (Ginneken& Hayes, 2016). For the cultural and social atmosphere, the case is the same. If there is a customs of violence, or high support from the public to deal with the crime with strong hands, the torture risk can also be increased. The societal, legal setup should also be examined.
In such countries, where the law and constitution prohibit the torture, also it is taken as a particular crime under the criminal rules; the possibility of torture can be lesser as compared to the countries where no such law is present (Mowry, Pimentel, Sparks, & Hanlon, 2013). The study should also emphasize on the law and order that implement on the areas where individuals are deprived of their freedom, also, the availability of the suitable lawful safeguards. Furthermore, the process by which the legal system is applied should closely be examined. The functioning and organization of the criminal justice framework is another significant element to consider (Zimring, 2001).Human poise is the key thought behind the disallowance of debasing treatment since it just applies to individuals and grounded to the unmistakable limits. This hypothesis allows that every single person are equivalent, in which profound quality equivalents worth for all. The hypothesis stretches out to expound that mental capacities permit people to obtain unqualified worth.
The independence level of the judiciary, also the confidence level of confessions in the criminal system of justice, can have a direct effect on the increasing torture risk (Hannah-Moffat, 2003). As the torture risk is increased in the initial phase of custody, special attention should be given to the authorities of law enforcement. In this case, the institutional background, the role, and system of the law enforcement agencies and employment and training activities of the officers can all directly influence the torture risk. Also, in general, the environment of the institutions should also be analyzed to understand the increasing risk of torture (Gilabert, 2018).
The level of transparency and accountability of the authorities, the presence of public policies to deal with prevention of crime and the efficiency of complaints system are the core factors that can decrease the torture risk, with the help of external independent actors like public organization and NHRI (Simon, 2015).
Situations of risk
Any situation in which an individual denied of his or her freedom and while there is a difference of authority, where the individual is completely reliant on another, develop a condition of risk (Shapland& Bottoms, 2019). The risk of being ill-treated or tortured is increased at specific times through the period of custody, like the initial time of arrest and police detention, also at the time of moving from one place of custody to another (Hannah-Moffat, 2003).
In such situations, the risk of ill-treatment and torture increases when individuals denied of their freedom is not allowed to be in contact with others, especially incommunicado custody or solitary confinement (Ginneken& Hayes, 2016). The torture risk and other types of ill-treatment happen inside the closed facilities, not only police stations or prisons but also, for instance, juvenile custody centers, psychiatric treatment centers, immigration detention facilities, and transit regions in international ports.
It is quite difficult to recognize groups or individuals that are at a bigger risk of ill-treatment or torture, as it can differ considerably as per the national context. Actually, any individual can possibly be at risk (Rights, 2007). Generally, disadvantaged and vulnerable groups in culture – like as minority groups (ethnic, racial, linguistic, or religious) minors, women, disabled persons, the homeless, poor, and the migrants normally are at higher torture and ill-treatment risks(Gilabert, 2018).
A preventive policy requires special political support to be effective in combating the torture, which should be publicly presented and available for the monitoring. In such conditions where torture is especially used for political purposes, prevention programs are expected to be unsuccessful or used against the political opposition (Shapland& Bottoms, 2019). It is significant to understand that no country is free from torture risk and ill-treatment.
Punishment Impact and Imprisonment
An opaque institute of a state is the prison where a person is kept due to its crimes. If a person goes to prison, four main factors arise in the decision. These are retribution, safety, rehabilitation, and deterrence (Ogbozor, Schoeny, & Baer, 2017). Retribution is punishing the offender, and safety is keeping threats away from the community; rehabilitation is to correct the problematic behavior, and deterrence is to ensure that the offender is scared to break the law in future (Hannah-Moffat, 2003). Criminal prosecutors often believe that a long prison structure and punishment is necessary. For example, the US attorney general is pushing on harsh sentences to restrict drugs and violence off the streets. Tough sentence advocates put it that long punishments are the most fitted ones, so it allows prisoners to think about how they have done wrong, and when they will be free, they have to stay on the track (Foster, 2016).
The long sentences produce overcrowd prisons and also costly for taxpayers. According to a report of the New York School of Law in 2016, the US can save $200 billion in ten years if a 40% inmate population was decreased. Research indicates that long prison sentences are arbitrary. As such, it presents that giving long sentence punishment to offenders deters ex-prisoners from committing offenses because criminals value future less than non-criminals (Liebling, 2008). Less-educated criminals apparently less put off under harsh sentences. There are many theories, and theoretical evidence underlie the purpose of punishment. The main aim of the prison was to provide social equilibrium, and in studies, it is shown that prison has failed to deliver it. For example, the valid proposition in this regard is, prisons damage people on different factors and different degrees, and prisons only serve a meager purpose for keeping society safe (i.e., less than 5%) as compared to the internal threat to society.
Prisons that operate for disciplinary hearings deal allegations of rule-breaking. These adjudications are disrespect, disobedience, and property offenses (Criminal, 1981). A prisoner involved in adjudication has to face different punishments. In 2014, 438 years were imposed as imprisonment for adjudications. For children, the number of additional days imposed was increased, though the number of children imprisoned has halved. Imprisonment is the main punishment considered effective for criminals, and it should be kept for offenders to restrict future crimes (Bersani& Doherty, 2018). According to the justice policy institute 2011, it was found out that sentencing time for the same crime can be different in the world, such as, in Finland, robbery convicted people suspects in jail for 16 months, but in Australia, it was 72 months. Similarly, for assault in England, 15 months were decided and in US 60 months.
Since 1970, a number of prisoners in the US have quadrupled, so now prison is getting longer, and most people are punished an incarcerated for violence or drug-related offenses. According to the US constitution eighth amendment, people who are accused of a crime have the right to be free of unusual punishment, no matter if they are in jail (Criminal, 2015). This situation can be explained as if criminal defendants are sentenced, and the constitution can guarantee them fundamental human rights regarding confinement conditions. The punishment that violates basic human rights and dignity is deemed a cruel and degrading treatment. In case of a challenging confinement situation, a correctional institute can provide medical and foodservice, and its officials are to act with deliberate indifference (Bridges, Crutchfield, & Simpson, 1987).
Most offenders have a common perception of excessive force. A prisoner may allege that officials use physical force against them; however, the use of physical force and restraints are common to preserve safety and order. According to the US Supreme Court, inmates do not have to show any significant beaten or injury, but excessive force should be claimed that how it was applied. For instance, if excessive force was not used in good faith, not a part to restore rule or it was based on malicious intent, this will not be permitted. Degrading treatment of punishment is commonly used by the administration, yet the process differs because it needs a form of submission about events or issues.
Why Prohibition on Punishment Should Not Extend to all Prisoners
Prohibition on punishment may not work for all kinds of prisoners. For instance, offenders involve in serious crimes should be provided punishment and sentencing in order to safeguard societal interest. Punishment to children and individuals involved in slight offends should be prohibited. For example, in local English prisons, 31% of prisoners locked in cells for more than 21 hours per day. In addition, poor conditions are increasing overcrowding. According to HM inspectorate of prisoners, 21,000 prisoners in local English prisons are in overcrowding conditions. These prisoners are facing unhygienic unsanitary and degrading treatment due to overcrowding. Universal Declaration of Human Rights and Geneva Conventions prohibited inhuman conditions, torture, and degrading treatment. Charter of UN considered inherent identity for all members of society because the human family is founded on justice, freedom, and peace (Bridges, Crutchfield, & Simpson, 1987).
According to the European Convention on human rights, no one can be subjected to degrading treatment due to socioeconomic rights. An instrument developed by EC claims to the socio-economic services to increase the standard of living and medical care for prisoners (Matthews & Richardson, 2005). Human dignity is the key idea behind the prohibition of degrading treatment because it only applies to human beings and grounded to the distinctive capacities. This theory that all human beings are equal is, according to Kant, in which morality equals worth for all. The theory extends to elaborate that psychological capabilities allow humans to acquire unconditional worth. The idea of dignity relates to incomparable value and absolute. According to Zellick, degrading punishment is inescapably debasing or humiliating a person that reduces the essential dignity or humanity of the victim. Degrading the dignity of humans can lead to denying the idea of human beings. Extreme punishment or severity for the human race should be discarded because it is not consistent with fundamental human rights (Bersani& Doherty, 2018). A prisoner can positively adapt the imprisonment so its status cannot be degraded. Children and people involved in fewer criminal offenses are to be confronting dignity when officials of corrective settings are treating them under human rights. In Furman vs. Georgia case, the Supreme Court of the US said that severe punishment is not acceptable because it indicates that it is not supporting human dignity. To that end, while involving in degrading treatment, the judicial objective should be considered.
In most of the countries, imprisoned people face degrading treatment and punishment. The degrading treatment should be prohibited to some prisoners, for instance, less serious crimes, drug-related, or violence. Prison buildings often face inhuman living conditions, poor hygiene, and sanitation, the treatment with prisoners, needs to be oriented on human grounds to maintain dignity. Different kinds of criminals, under trial, unconvinced, women, children, lifers, and young offenders, need maintenance of human rights and dignity. Human rights foundation and dignity is foremost significant to consider for prisoners.
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