notes on prisons

Are prisons an infringement of fundamental human rights?

You will not find anecdotes of prison horrors on following pages. China's systematic use of torture and slave labour, the rapes and drugs and murders which make up much of prison life in most countries, 24-hour lockups in American maximum-security prisons - specific degrading and dehumanizing conditions are not the primary focus of these pages.

Rather, the goal is to try to determine to what extent modern prisons are, by their very nature, a violation of fundamental human rights and to offer a workable and philosophically-consistent solution to the problems imprisonment is supposed to address.

Any comprehensive discussion of the use of prisons must take into account the following:
I. The fundamental rights of the prisoner

II. The fundamental rights of the victim

III. The fundamental rights of the individual in a society

IV. The valid powers of government

V. The real world

a. When is imprisonment justified?

b. What should and can prison be?