5.4 Prison hygiene and sanitation
Detention homes such as prisons and jails, including temporary arrest facilities, must be hygienic. The transmission of communicable diseases such as diarrhoea, relapsing fever, scabies and typhus fever could be possible due to crowding and poor sanitation in prisons. The following provisions are important to check:
- Sanitation promotion: the strict nature of the prison requires some form of local organisation that could be actively involved in cleaning the interior rooms and compound. A sanitation committee can organise this with the guidance of the authorities of the prison. Its duty is to plan and execute a sanitation day at least once a week. Room and compound cleaning, clothes washing and personal hygiene are some of the priorities to maintain the health of detainees.
- The presence of any possible epidemics in a prison must be checked through regular prison inspection.
- Access to safe water, showers, clothes washing stands, latrines and solid waste disposal facilities are essential in a prison.
- An insanitary interior of the prison is attractive for insects such as cockroaches, fleas, lice and bedbugs. Inspection of new prisoners’ clothing and bodies for the presence of these insects must be done when they arrive. High standards of personal hygiene through frequent body washing, maintenance of clean premises and clean clothes should be enforced.
- The rooms for detention should have an adequate supply of indoor light and fresh air. The surface area of windows should be a minimum of 10% of the floor area in order to admit daylight and adequate air.
- Overcrowding must be controlled as much as possible. Overcrowding leads to the transmission of many communicable diseases.
- Periodical hygiene education on selected relevant topics is important in order to maintain the healthy behaviour of prisoners.