International Research Group

The “Caught from Inside: the Other Side of life” Project intends to deepen the awareness on the theme of the protection of fundamental rights of people in Jail among Law/Medical Students in Europe. It is proposed by ELSA Italy, ELSA Croatia and SISM (Italian member of the IFMSA – International Federation of Medical Students’ Associations).

Prisoners are human being and they should, so as far as the Law can allow, have the same rights as all other citizens. Prisoners are people who lost their personal liberty whilst they are in prison, due to the crime they have committed but they should not lose their human dignity and their right to an equal treatment at Law in their Country. In few words, Criminal Offenders who are sentenced for imprisonment should not bear any extra punishment than imprisonment itself, particularly in a civilized modern country. Despite this, in our modern world, prisoners’ human rights and civil liberties are breached on a daily basis. On one hand, overcrowded jails contribute to the cruel, inhuman and degrading prisoners’ conditions of confinement, leading in certain cases even to death in custody and physical or mental disease, especially as regards vulnerable people. On the other hand, a criminal Justice service which respects individual rights should also allow Prison to be, beyond a place for punishment, also a place for rehabilitation, where a minimum level of civil rights such as freedom of religion, expression, association, access to health care are guaranteed.

In the recognition of this very important issue, ELSA Italy, ELSA Croatia and SISM are launching the Project “Caught from Inside: the Other Side of Life”.

– What is the project “Caught from Inside: the Other Side of Life” and what are its main aims?
This International Project intends to create an international platform for Law Students in order to let them exchange mutually experiences and knowledge on the actual protection of Prisoners’ Rights provided by National Legislations, in coherence with the main International and European Law Tools on this topic. The project is aimed at investigating the degree of implementation of this particular field of Human Rights Protection and it will have a special concern on the topic of Prisoners’ Right to Health and Medical treatment. In order to carry out this goal, ELSA Italy will work in close connection with the SISM, (Segretariato Italiano Studenti in Medicina), which is one of the most important organizations of Italian Medical Students and that will provide aid and collaboration in order to get a more complete comprehension of the phenomenon, especially on Health condition of Prisoners inside Jails.

The Project is made of three different phases, a Legal/Medical Research Group, a cycle of Institutional Study Visits to National jails in the different countries involved in the Project and a Final Conference and Workshop.

The international community needs to have more information on the Protection of Prisoners’ Rights, especially on their chances to have access to Medical Treatments. The ELSA/SISM Project “Caught from Inside: the Other side of Life”, and in particular the Legal/Medical Research Group, aims at reaching a high quality academic report which illustrates the actual degree of implementation of the protection of Prisoners’ Rights.

More specifically, the Legal Research Group will make wide use of a comparative approach. The National Groups will aim at providing academic knowledge in the Legal field which will be comparable also with the main European level and will help to understand where the respective national Legal systems could intervene to strengthen the protection of Human Rights inside Jails.

As concerns the Medical Research Group, Mental Health and access to Primary Healthcare will be the main aspects Students will focus on. The Research Group will provide a wider and deeper knowledge of the living condition in Jails through the analysis of the suicidal tendencies, the abuse of drugs and narcotic substances, but also an epidemiological approach as regards infectious diseases like AIDS and hepatitis. In order to analyse social determinants of health and inequalities, the condition of immigrant people and the oncoming closure of OPGs (Psychiatric Judicial Hospitals), the affective and emotional context of maternity in Jail as well as Maternal and Child Health, will be subject of the research. By approaching all these topics according to medical and social point of view, Students will understand how global health actors and social factors influence Health described as “a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity” by WHO (World Health Organization) in 1948.

I) How the research will work?
The structure of the Research Group will be based on a National Level: each of the States involved in the project, ELSA Italy, ELSA Croatia and ELSA Republic of Macedonia, will deliver a Call for Researchers for a minimum of 5 and a maximum of 10 Law Students or early Graduates, who will work during the months of April, May and June, under the supervision of the National Coordinators and the Project Managers, chosen among the ELSA officers. On the other hand, SISM will coordinate a group of 5 to 10 Medical Students or early Graduates who will focus on the Medical part of the research under the supervision of the SISM National Officer on Human Rights and Peace.

As concerns the Legal part of the Researcher Group, the Academic framework will deal with five main issues regarding Prisoner’s Rights. The Research should be very focused on actual condition of jails and shall be supported by many statistical and practical data

1. Main frame of National Jail System, Re-education of Prisoners, Main measures Alternative to Detention;
2. Analysis of Living Conditions in Jail and Suicides.
3. Social Rights of Prisoners: Right to Vote, right to Work.
5. Pregnancy and Maternity in Jail and in general Care of incarcerated pregnant women and their children.

As concerns the Medical part of the, SISM students will mainly focus on the issues of Right to Health and Access to Medical Treatment in Prison and Pregnancy and Maternity in Jail.

The Researchers will be given some indications on how to draft the structure of the research and bibliographical references, beyond Research Guidelines. The National Coordinators will have to be the link between the researchers and the Academic Advisors, which will give support and supervision during the Research and also for Final Revision. The researchers will be provided also with developed Academic Framework Guidelines.

This is definitely an opportunity not to be missed if you wish to diversify and deepen your legal, medical, social knowledge on this peculiar Human Rights topic. This could be also a unique way to take part into a project having a European dimension, to work in heterogeneous environment and aiming at building an internationally-minded knowledge and a new awareness on Prisoners’ Rights.

For further information on how to apply, please, see the Call for Researchers Document.

Project National Researcher Application Form

Launch of the Project and Call for Researchers: 5th April 2013
Deadline Call for Researchers: 23rd April 2013
Announcement of Appointed Researchers 25th April 2013
Beginning of the research 1st May 2013
Mid term deadline for RG 30th May 2013
Final Deadline for RG 30th June 2013
1st Study Visit in Italy: July 2013
2nd Study Visits in Croatia: September 2013
Final Conference and presentation of RG outcome. Fall 2013

ELSA Italy:
ELSA Croatia: