The treatment for prisoners used to be inhuman, severe and even merciless, and they languished in solitude till the completion of their prison terms. The mode of correction and retributive actions varied from disciplinary confinements and exile to painful lashes or even death. (Prisoners’ Rights) [1]
Every right thinking citizen in society hopes for the day when the surface of the earth will be crimeless and whatever is left of crime get nipped in the bud. But as of now, everyone is aware this is, at best, a distant dream.
The Geneva Convention of 27 July 1929 comprising 97 articles, laid down general principles for humane treatment of prisoners at all times. It was a historical landmark which recognized the basic rights of the prisoners such as food and clothing, hygiene, mental and physical recreation, contact by mail with the near and dear ones, and their religious practices. It particularly emphasized on protection of the inmates from acts of violence, insults and public curiosity. (Geneva Convention) [2]
The silver lining of the present time is that there is a growing school of professionals and social activists who are firm in the belief that it is possible to prevent crime to a large extent, and in many cases where it has taken place, it is possible to apply corrective measures without resorting to custodial confinement within the four walls of a prison. (Rehabilitation of Offenders) [3]
Rehabilitation of Offenders Act, 1974
In England, the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act, 1974, is the landmark legislation towards this effort. It seeks to provide the offender, particularly the youth a second chance to get back on track and join the mainstream with a sense of responsibility and purpose.
This act provides opportunity, under some conditions, to the ex-offender to ‘wipe the slate clean’ and begin all over as if he had not committed any criminal act at any point in his lifetime. Nonetheless, this happens after a period of rehabilitation depending on the gravity of the offence and the custodial sentence awarded as consequence.
A rehabilitation period is the length of time set from the date of conviction. Once this period is over, subject to certain conditions and exceptions, an ex-offender does not have to mention his conviction when applying for a job. The Act is likely to help people facing minor convictions. People with many convictions, especially serious convictions, may not find the Act beneficial unless the last convictions are very old.
For someone with a criminal record and on the lookout for work, it is necessary to know about the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act, 1974, which explains the legal requirements for both employers and employees, and the rules associated with the rehabilitation period. It is quite a complicated Act and as such, it is advisable to go through it with someone who is familiar with the act.
Under this legislation, the conviction is said to be "spent" after the period of rehabil

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