This handbook is intended to assist everyone who has anything to do with prisons. Readers are likely to include government ministers whose portfolio covers parliamentary accountability for prisons, officials who work within Ministries of Justice and other ministries which have oversight of prison issues, as well as intergovernmental agencies such as the United Nations, the Organisation of American States, the African Union, the Council of Europe, the European Union, the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe and the World Health Organisation. It will also be of interest to the many non governmental organisations and groups from civil society which work in prisons. It should be made available where possible to prisoners. But its primary audience is intended to be those who work directly with prisons and prisoners. These include national and regional prison administrators. Above all, it is intended for those who are actually employed in prisons and who deal with prisoners on a day to day basis. The topics covered in the handbook demonstrate the complexity of prison management and the wide range of skills which are required from those whose task it is to direct prisons.
The issues covered show that there is a common set of factors which, when taken together, constitute a model for good prison management. However, it is not sufficient to consider these topics in a vacuum. It is also important that they should be grounded in a set of clear principles. Since it is intended that this handbook should have application in every prison system in the world it is essential that the set of principles which is to be used as a reference point should be applicable in every country. They should not be based on a particular culture or on the standards which are accepted in one country or region. The handbook meets this requirement by taking as its starting point for each chapter the relevant international human rights standards.