Source: (2008) Criminal Justice Handbook Series, United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime.

The maintenance of prisoner files is easily associated with the realms of prison administration and bureaucracy—often a burdensome task for overworked prison staff. The role of prisoner files in relation to the protection and promotion of human rights, however, is rather less obvious. The presence of complete, accurate and accessible prisoner files is not only a prerequisite for effective prison management and strategic planning, it is also an essential tool for ensuring the human rights of prisoners are respected and upheld. If prison systems deny such rights, the rehabilitative purpose of imprisonment is necessarily undermined, along with public confidence in the criminal justice system and the rule of law in general. The realities of prison systems worldwide are characterized by limited resources. However, effective prisoner file management is not entirely dependent on financial investment; it is more about having a clear and workable system for recording information, accompanied by procedures that are respected and followed by prison staff. (excerpt)

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