UC Irvine Journal of International, Transnational, and Comparative Law


Prison standards are an important element of transnational criminal

justice. This Article shows how legal standards governing prison conditions

emerged at the international and regional levels and considers how,

increasingly, they have gained legitimacy. It then describes how these

standards are applied in a way that contributes to a recognizable

transnational legal order in respect of prison conditions, which has real

impact at the national level. The Article pays close attention to the transfer

of prisoners between states, as a mechanism that operates transnationally

and, in the process, enhances the importance of international prison

standards. It concludes that the benefits of common prison standards are

mixed. On the positive side, they have the potential to give states that are

asked to extradite suspects, or transfer sentenced prisoners, leverage to

demand the improvement of prison conditions in the receiving states. There

is, however, a risk that states will accept and implicitly endorse sub-standard

prison conditions in order to rid themselves of troublesome offenders.