Legal basis for practice principle 3

While the principle of rehabilitation has early origins in the United States, today this practice principle is far more firmly rooted in international human rights texts and European jurisprudence. The first clear statement of the rehabilitative ideal in America occurred in 1870 at the National Congress on Penitentiary and Reformatory Discipline. In the aftermath of the Civil War, the nation’s prisons were crowded, filled to the brim by the so-called “dangerous classes of impoverished immigrants.” Francis Cullen, “Correctional Rehabilitation,” in Reforming Criminal Justice, Volume 4: Punishment, Incarceration and Release, edited by Erik Luna (Phoenix, AZ: Arizona State University, 2017), 235-60, 241, The leading prison administrators and reformers reaffirmed that “the supreme aim of prison discipline is the reformation of criminals, not the infliction of vindictive suffering.” Ibid. Today, there are many examples of nonbinding declarations that acknowledge human dignity. For example, the American Correctional Association’s Declaration of Principles recognizes the principle of ‘‘humanity’’ as being essential to the foundation of sound correctional policy and effective public protection by stating that ‘‘[t]he dignity of individuals, the rights of all people and the potential for human growth and development must be respected.” See American Correctional Association (ACA), Declaration of Principles: Humanity (Alexandria, VA: ACA, 2002). The American Bar Association’s Standards for Criminal Justice also promote human dignity: “Correctional authorities should treat prisoners in a manner that respects their human dignity, and should not subject them to harassment, bullying, or disparaging language or treatment, or to invidious discrimination . . . .” American Bar Association (ABA), ABA Standards for Criminal Justice: Treatment of Prisoners, Standard 23-7.1 (Chicago: ABA, 2011), For modern, international guidance on rehabilitation, see Rule 4 of the Nelson Mandela Rules, which states that protecting society against crime and reducing recidivism "can be achieved only if the period of imprisonment is used to ensure, so far as possible, the reintegration of such persons into society upon release so that they can lead a law-abiding and self-supporting life.” U.N. General Assembly, United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners (the Nelson Mandela Rules): resolution / adopted by the General Assembly, January 8, 2016, A/RES/70/175, Also see Rule 91, which states: “The treatment of persons sentenced to imprisonment . . . shall have as its purpose . . . to establish in them the will to lead law-abiding and self-supporting lives after their release and to fit them to do so. The treatment shall be such as will encourage their self-respect and develop their sense of responsibility.” Ibid. Also, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, Article 10(3), states: “The penitentiary system shall comprise treatment of prisoners the essential aim of which shall be their reformation and social rehabilitation.” U.N. General Assembly, International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (December 16, 1966), United Nations, Treaty Series, vol. 999, p. 171, For example, in Vinter and Others v. United Kingdom, the ECHR held that a sentence of life imprisonment is not a violation of Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights so long as the person is offered a prospect of release and a possibility of review. A prospect of release, the court reasoned, is essential “under the Convention system, the very essence of which . . . is respect for human dignity.” Case of Vintner and Others v. United Kingdom, 2013-III, 317 § 113,  

The ECHR agreed with a ruling of the German Federal Constitutional Court, which had previously considered the issue and recognized that forcefully depriving people of their freedom without at least providing them with the chance to someday regain it “would be incompatible with the provision on human dignity in the Basic Law [of Germany].”Ibid.  As such, and echoing the German court, the ECHR concluded that “prison authorities have the duty to strive towards a life sentenced prisoner’s rehabilitation, and that rehabilitation was constitutionally required in any community that established human dignity as its centrepiece."Ibid.  

The ECHR reaffirmed this view in Murray v. The Netherlands and stated: “a life prisoner must be realistically enabled, to the extent possible within the constraints of the prison context, to make such progress towards rehabilitation that it offers him or her the hope of one day being eligible for parole or conditional release. . . . Life prisoners are thus to be provided with an opportunity to rehabilitate themselves. . . . [E]ven though States are not responsible for achieving the rehabilitation of life prisoners, they nevertheless have a duty to make it possible.”Murray v. The Netherlands, Application no. 10511/10 § 103-4,