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Handbook on Prisoner File Management

NCJ Number
Rachel Stokes; Mel James; Jeff Christian
Date Published
68 pages
After explaining the importance of effective prisoner file management, this handbook outlines the key international human rights standards that apply to prisoner and detainee file management and summarizes the key requirements that prison systems must meet in complying with these standards.
The presence, accuracy, completeness, and accessibility of prisoner files prevents and assists in the investigation of human rights violations against prisoners. Prisoner files should indicate the nature and timing of various legal procedures in which the prisoner has participated; show the prisoner’s classification and placement; record prisoner misconduct and discipline procedures; and describe rehabilitative programs, health care received, prisoner belongings and personal effects, contacts in the community, complaints and grievances, and transfer and release. In providing guidelines for the creation of a prisoner file system that achieves these objectives, this handbook stipulates that a file should be created and the minimum content requirement for that file in order to comply with international standards regarding prisoner management. Some requirements presented need the force of national law, and others can be required by regulations, policies, or local procedures. Law is necessary when the intent is to hold the detaining authority to strict account; policy is generally a means for defining what is expected, and procedure is a means of defining how something is to be done. The handbook indicates which prisoner file requirements need the force of national law and must be applicable to any agency that has the legal authority to detain any person. Checklists provided for prisoner files pertain to identity information, detention information, judicial information, and arrest/investigation information. The handbook’s concluding section explains how to create a general prisoner file, medical files, a central file register, and a prison registry. Policies are recommended for access to files, transferring files, and archival and storage. 5 figures