Pierre de Vos examines oversight of prisons by the courts. Noting that the Constitution contains generous and explicit provisions elaborating prisoners' rights, he expresses surprise that so few cases have been launched.

The study reveals that many cases are settled and that the terms of such settlements are not publicised, so that no precedent is established and no standards are laid down to which the Department can be held. The author also reflects on the myriad practical obstacles in litigating against the Department and lack of respect within the Department for legal processes. Despite this, he concludes that strategic litigation in the sphere of prisoners' rights can be an effective way of ensuring that the most fundamental problems relating to prisoners' constitutional rights are addressed.

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