As a class, prisoners are vulnerable to numerous privations while in custody. In particular, prisoners are at a distinct disadvantage in terms of being able to control the central features of their daily lives. The lives of prisoners are circumscribed by numerous rules and regulations and their administration by correctional administrators. It is important that prisoners are aware of the content of the rules that govern their existence and the precise basis upon which power is exercised over them. In a recent freedom of information application in Victoria, a prisoner sought a personal copy of the rules that would govern his life in that particular institution. The prison authorities refused that request. The prisoner then appealed that decision to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal and was unsuccessful. It is contended that the analysis used in that case was flawed through the misreading of the nature of correctional environment and the fundamental importance of transparency in such a context.
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