Center on Sentencing and Corrections

A.B.A.'s Standards for Criminal Justice

Treatment of Prisoners

A.B.A.'s Standards for Criminal Justice

American Bar Association, Standards for Criminal Justice: Treatment of Prisoners (Third Edition), 2010.


“These Standards on the Treatment of Prisoners, over five years in the drafting, were approved by the American Bar Association House of Delegates in February 2010. They replace the ABA’s 1981 Criminal Justice Standards on the Legal Status of Prisoners, which were supplemented by two additions in 1985 but not subsequently amended. In the 1980s, the now-replaced Legal Status of Prisoners Standards proved a useful source of insight and guidance for courts and correctional administrators, and were frequently cited and used. But this revision is long overdue: enormous changes have affected American corrections since 1981, and even in the 1990s, the 1981 standards had grown sadly out of date. It is this project’s goal to provide up-to-date guidelines addressing current conditions and challenges and helping to shape the fair and humane development of the law and operation of the criminal justice system.…

The revised Standards apply to all prisoners confined in adult correctional and criminal detention facilities, regardless of age or immigration status, but do not seek to cover facilities dedicated entirely to either juvenile or immigration detention. While the 1981 Standards were an important starting point, the revised Standards identify significant current problems that were not addressed by the 1981 Standards, such as long-term and extreme isolation of prisoners, crowding, and prisoners whose mental and physical health or other circumstances create a variety of special needs.…

The Standards’ role is to provide guidance to judges, policy-makers, lawyers, and correctional administrators, and to help shape the just development of the law and operation of the criminal justice system.”


Click here to view the standards.


Keywords: classification, administrative segregation, disciplinary segregation, rationales for segregation, conditions of confinement