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Prison law

van Zyl Smit, Dirk


Dirk van Zyl Smit


Markus D. Dubber

Tatjana H�rnle


This chapter discusses prison law in relation to criminal law from the perspective of the law governing the implementation of imprisonment. It begins with a historical overview of prison law as a means to regulate state powers in establishing and governing institutions for offenders. The chapter defines prisoners’ rights with an emphasis on the relationship between prison law and modern human rights law. It then examines contemporary theories of prison law, particularly offenders’ loss of rights and limitation of rights. The chapter also discusses prison labor, the right of prisoners to start a family, review of whole life sentences, and the outcomes that may result when the scope and substance of prison law are subjected to varying interpretations. It concludes by looking at the major challenges prison law currently faces and must address, including prison overcrowding, prison privatization, and the rise of international imprisonment.


van Zyl Smit, D. (2014). Prison law. In M. D. Dubber, & T. Hörnle (Eds.), Oxford Handbook of Criminal Law (988-1011). Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Acceptance Date Apr 3, 2013
Online Publication Date Mar 4, 2015
Publication Date Nov 26, 2014
Deposit Date Nov 27, 2018
Publisher Oxford University Press
Pages 988-1011
Book Title Oxford Handbook of Criminal Law
Chapter Number 43
ISBN 9780199673599
Public URL
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