"This dissertation seeks to investigate: (a) whether national human rights institutions are best suited to oversee the improvement of prison conditions; (b) why national institutions are in a better position than others working in this field to monitor the respect of prisoners' rights; and (c) some of the ways in which national institutions can achieve this objective. This will entail an examination of the nature of prisoners' rights and prison conditions and, thereafter, the general character and elements that define national human rights commissions in terms of organization and establishment. These elements will be considered with a view to finding out whether they offer any advantages that can positively influence the conditions of prisons and prisoners and if so, how. It is recognized that national institutions are not the only ones involved in seeking to improve prison conditions. It will be argued however, that even with the existence of the other bodies, there still exists the need for national institutions to be expressly mandated to inspect and monitor the adherence to standards on prisoners' rights. The argument will again be based on the examination of the unique characteristics that these institutions possess as distinguished from other bodies, and the potential these characteristics have to ameliorate the conditions in which prisoners find themselves. ... Chapter one introduces the study and the questions that have prompted the study. Chapter two looks at the nature of pisons, how they began to be and what purposes they serve. This chapter also examines the conditions of prisons in Africa. The scope of chapter three is prisoners' rights, what they are, their justification and the legal regime that regulates their observance. Chapter four focuses on the implementation aspect by looking into what national human rights instiutions are. The final chapter will examine how national institutions have utilized or might utilize their characteristics in favor of the protection of the human rights of prisoners. Conclusions and recommendations will then follow." -- Chapter 1.