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The rights of prisoners according to Islamic teachings - Part 1

Adopted from the book: "The rights of prisoners according to Islamic teachings" by: "Sayyid Muhammad Sadiq al-Shirazi"

As it was previously mentioned, the prisoner must be allowed to visit the sick or attend the funeral of a family member. On the other hand, if the prisoner wishes to be transferred to another prison, a comfortable means of transport must be used, and the cost of transport must be met by the prisoner if s/he requested the transport and can afford the cost of transport, otherwise it must be paid from the prison budget.

Men and women prisons

Prisons for men must be staffed by men entirely and those for women must be staffed by women only. Men may not staff women prisons and vice versa. Male staff must be married and so too must female prison staff 91. If any of the prison staff wanted to live with his/her family, in the living quarters of the prison complex, they may do so. Juveniles must be segregated in prisons. It is important to have separate prisons for boys and girls.

Insanity of prisoner

If a prisoner became insane s/he must be treated and if their illness is incurable, s/he must be detained in mental hospital or unit. If it was diagnosed that the prisoner would develop insanity or other such illnesses (as a result of being imprisoned) s/he should be released from prison. No to Violence

Prison staff may not use force with prisoners unless in cases such as self- defence, or to prevent prisoner escape or to prevent a prisoner harming others. In case force was used it must be reported to the prison governor immediately. Prison staff must be trained to deal with abusive prisoners. Prison staff may not carry guns unless they have written permission and that they are qualified to use it.


Teaching and education program must be provided for the literate and the illiterate prisoners as well as the young offenders so that their time is not wasted without any education for those who want to study.

Employment inside prison

This is to reduce or prevent such conducts as sexual harassment and abuse.

Rights of a Prisoner

The prison management must prepare prisoners to work in accordance with their intellectual and physical abilities. Work opportunities must be available to stimulate and also encourage them to earn for themselves and their family through honourable means. Prisoners must also be trained to gain new work related skills especially for the young prisoner. Prisoners must choose the work they wish to do and not be compelled to do so. The standard of work conditions inside prison must be the same as those outside so that prisoners are prepared for life outside. The interest of prisoners must take priority over that of the prison institution.

Labour law

The working conditions such as the number of working hours per week must be the same as those for workers outside prisons. Similarly prisons must have a day off work and must have enough time to engage in recreational activities.

Observation of religious occasions They must also be given the chance to observe or celebrate religious occasions.

Equal treatment

If a prisoner accomplishes manual or scholarly work s/he should be paid according to rates outside the prison. He should be allowed to spend his/her earnings on himself or his family. The prison should be provided with the facility to secure his wealth either through a bank or through the prison service itself.

The insane

The insane, and mentally retarded may not be imprisoned. As for one who suffers from periodic insanity may only be imprisoned (for committing offences) during recuperation periods.

Diminished responsibility An individual may not be imprisoned for a crime if s/he was forced, impelled, etc. to commit such an act.

Death of prisoner If the prisoner dies as a result of part of the prison building collapsing or due to flooding, earthquake, etc. and the prison management had

anticipated such events 92, in that case the prison authority should pay compensation (blood money). Similarly if the prisoner lost a limb or sustained other injuries, he is entitled to compensation. However, if the prisoner dies of natural causes there is no compensation to pay.

Prison building

The prison building must be strong enough such that prisoners do not easily damage it. There should be no tools or means inside the prison that could be used to damage the building, harm other fellow prisoners or even harm themselves in any way, such as hanging.

Prison staff

Prison staff must have an appropriate mental and intellectual level as well as being physically able. Prior to assuming their post in prison they must have received relevant education and have attended specialist-training programmes to prepare them for the tasks involved in such posts.

Furthermore they should maintain those standards but also develop further during their service. They must have a conduct such that they set a good example to the prisoners in terms of behaviour and moral values. Prison staff as well as the general public must be made aware of the role and importance of prisons and the prison service.

The salary of prison staff must reflect this aspect and must compensate the important hard work involved. There may even be bonuses given in appreciation of the excellent services provided by the prison staff. Such bonuses could include leave of absence, etc.

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