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Human rights conformity: An ideal type analysis of prisoners' rights in the United States and England.

  • Dissertation/ Thesis
  • Doctoral Dissertations -- University at Albany, State University of New York; 1999, p1-210, 210p
  • sing the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights 1 as a starting point, an ideal type analysis 2 will be used to assess the degree to which prisoners' rights law in the United States and England 3 conform to these standards. 4 This research is not concerned with the 'physical (actual) conditions of confinement' but with the `legal conditions of confinement'. Using textual legal data, the core area of freedom from cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment will be ranked on a conformity continuum. The intent of the continuum is to propose a model for classifying correctional systems according to relative conformity to United Nations Human Rights guidelines. Although primarily concerned with description, explanations for deviation from the international standard will be suggested and future applications of the research provided. As the initial test of the proposed model, the United States and England have been selected for several reasons. First, each plays a crucial role in the international promotion of human rights. An examination of their respective prison legal atmospheres will help justify such claims since the rights granted the convicted are often a strong indicator of human rights generally. Second, there is a common public perception that these states are at or near the top of various human rights rankings. In a general sense, this is most probably correct. However, in the correctional arena, international courts and non-governmental organizations have found both the United States and England to be in violation of human rights. A more accurate reading of the literature indicates that both states are average in terms of human rights abidance as compared with similarly situated states and above average when compared to all the worlds States. Since this research amounts to a pilot test of a taxonomic model, avoiding outlier States is methodologically preferable. Thus the United States and England have been selected as test cases for this exploratory study. 1 The Universal Declaration of Human Rights is a sweeping document. In the interest of clarifying sections of the UDHR, various other United Nations documents will be used. They include, inter alia, the Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment, and the Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners. In addition, regional documents, such as the European Convention on Human Rights and the American Convention on Human Rights, are used where relevant. 2 Based on the writings of Max Weber. 3 'England' refers to both England and Wales, to which this study is confined, unless otherwise specified. The common legal systems of England and Wales is the result of the Acts of Union of 1536 and 1542. Due to its historic political association with France, Scotland has developed a body of law more akin to the civil law tradition and so, is not discussed here. Similarly, due to the complex history of Northern Ireland and its relationship with the British Crown, it will be left out of this analysis. 4 The initial idea for this dissertation first appeared in Bouloukos, Adam C., "At the Mercy of the King: A Comparison of Inmate Rights in the United States and the United Kingdom", an unpublished paper presented at the annual meeting of the Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences, Pittsburgh, 1992, with input from Professors Leslie Wilkins and Fred Cohen. [ABSTRACT FROM AUTHOR]
Additional Information
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