I have read comments on my Facebook page from people who state prisoners deserve every bad thing that happens to them inside. No, they don’t. But the rights listed below are constantly ignored by the prisons because no one oversees whether they abide by them.
What Are a Prisoner’s Rights?
Prisoner’s Rights Law deals with the rights of inmates while behind bars. Many of these laws relate to fundamental human rights and civil liberties.
Cruel and Unusual Punishments – Every inmate has the right to be free under the Eighth Amendment from inhumane treatment or anything that could be considered “cruel and unusual” punishment. Unfortunately, the Eighth Amendment did not clearly define what “cruel and unusual” punishment includes, meaning much of the definition has derived from case law. Generally speaking, any punishment that is considered inhumane treatment, like torture or abuse, or a violation of a person’s basic dignity may be considered cruel and unusual within the discretion of the court.
Sexual Harassment or Sex Crimes – Inmates have a right to be free from sexual harassment or sex crimes, like being raped or molested while in custody. This applies to crimes or harassment from both inmates and prison personnel.
Right to Complain About Prison Conditions and Access to the Courts – Inmates have the right both to complain about prison conditions and to voice their concerns to prison officials and the courts.
Disabled Prisoners – Inmates with disabilities are entitled to certain reasonable accommodations under the American with Disabilities Act to ensure they receive the same access to prison facilities as those who are not disabled.
Medical and Mental Health Care – Prisoners are entitled to receive medical care and mental health treatment. These treatments are only required to be “adequate,” not the best available or even the standard treatment for those outside of incarceration.
First Amendment Rights – Inmates retain basic First Amendment rights (i.e., free speech and religion), but only to the extent that the exercise of those rights do not interfere with their status as inmates.
Discrimination – Inmates have the right to be free from discrimination while imprisoned. This includes racial segregation, disparate treatment based on ethnicity or religion, or preferences based on age, among others.
If you have questions about what rights an inmate has (or will have) under specific circumstances, you can review the materials below and should also contact a local attorney familiar with criminal law. You can find a list of attorneys in your area on our Civil Rights Law Firms page.
So many unanswered questions of right and wrong. Ten years ago, before I met Jamie, I was totally clueless about how the prison system worked and how it connects to our past history of slavery. I didn’t know anyone in prison. My knowledge came from the same place everyone gets their information – TV and movies – and slanted propaganda the media is paid to report, depending on which political party that particular news organization is affiliated with.
There is a need to justify to American citizens why there has been such an enormous need to lock up a high percentage of our “lesser than us” citizens – more than almost all other countries combined. This is the mass incarceration of blacks. The people needed to fill the prisons were expendable. They were, and still are, the blacks, and then minorities, and now foreign citizens, AKA illegal aliens. It is so important to keep us afraid of them, even though we created the need to be afraid in the first place. Why?
Why has it been so important for white people to believe black people have a higher propensity to be criminals than white people? Has it been our ego? Could we not stand the thought that black people are just as good as we are? No, we had to keep them down – keep them in their place. Why do black people have to be so much more afraid of police than white people? We know that is a fact. All of us know it, yet it continues to happen. Why do my half-black grandchildren have to be afraid that a cop will shoot them in the back? Because that is what cops do, and get away with, because black people are so dangerous, so they tell us.
Why do so many white people think they are better than blacks? Do they think they are good Christians? They say they are good Christians. Some racist people will even tell you they aren’t racist because they don’t want other people to know. I’m not lumping all Christians into that mix, because even black people are Christians, even though they aren’t supposed to be. “Dirty niggers”, we have called them so many times. It’s hard to even type the letters it is so disgusting. But not printing them doesn’t make it go away. I could type half the word and put ** in the middle for the missing letters, but that doesn’t change the word, either. Since the time black people have been slaves, we – the white people couldn’t picture black people being equal to us. The white race did a horrible things to this race of people with beautiful colored skin of many shades. White people have tried for a hundred years to acquire their beautiful brown tones of skin. Because of the law of cause and effect or, you reap what you sow, is strict, a price will be paid for what was done. Even though the current generation of people were not alive while slavery was being enacted there is something drastically wrong because some kids are still being raised with the same hate their parents were probably raised.
Now, with everything going on today in the world with terrorism in the middle east, that we created, children are now being taught to hate Muslims, as if Christianity was such a loving religion. So much blood has been shed in the name of Christianity. The degree of hate I hear from those who say they are Christians is sickening. Any child now who is racist learned it from the adults in his life – and that is inexcusable. Again I say, not all Christians fall into this group, but it is enough of them that it stands out.
There is something massively wrong with America, starting with the people who govern it. What we were never told, as the prisons swelled with people, was the real reason why we had to lock up so many people. Sure, there was the war of drugs, but that wasn’t the real reason. That was just the easiest reason for the public to swallow. Our government knew all along this was never going to get rid of drugs or crime. What it did was allow certain corporations to make a heck of a lot of money, and those corporations gave politicians a lot of campaign money. now they have to support what these corporations want. The people in power had to prey on the minds of people who were susceptible to believing black people were dangerous. They needed a reason to destroy black families. It was the only way to legally continue to enslave them. Take away the fathers, and make sure they were kept poor. Lock up their kids in juvenile detention for poor or nonexistent excuses. Treat black kids differently than white kids. Make sure they have a hard time getting an education. Show society that black people are beneath white people. If you are ignorant and think being white makes you smarter, or you deserve more, then there is no hope for you. Because, no matter what you believe, it doesn’t make it true.
Cops have killed too many people with the stupid excuse they were afraid for their lives as they shot the person as he was walking away from them. That excuse won’t work any more. People are angry.
While locking up so many people, no one put enough thought into how much it was going to cost to keep them locked up. They also didn’t think about how much money it would take to care for them medically. And what about the elderly? Who pays for them? Everyone – we all pay – it comes out of every taxpayer’s pocket. But who cares? Not the corporations with the contracts.
So much money is being made by the prison industrial complex – fine upstanding American corporations who want their products to be made by incarcerated slaves for free or close to it. Do you boycott these companies? No – you don’t – because you have no idea which companies I’m talking about. Have you even thought to find out who these corporations are? No, and they count on that.
You get angry when animals are hurt. You get angry over the vets who are mistreated. You get upset about the homeless, but you think the inmates in prison deserve what they get. In the prisons there are corporations who bid on the commissary products they sell, and corporations who are supposed to supply the food, and corporations who are supposed to take care of medical needs, and corporations who are supposed to supply educational needs. But they can only make the big bucks by denying these things to the inmates as often as possible. Do you think they are going to give up their profit when they have more money than anyone to fight it?
In prison, Jamie is being denied medications for his heart. Just this week I have called 4 days in a row trying to reach someone in the medical unit to ask why. I can never reach the right person, or they are out of the office and they won’t return my calls. Is there an attorney reading this who can help me? The prison doesn’t care if they kill him. Would you stand for that if it was YOUR family? Is anyone angry for the inmates who aren’t receiving care, or do you fall for the propaganda that they deserve it? Do you believe they get three squares a day and free medical? Are you the kind of person who believes what you read and doesn’t look at the other side of the story?
These things make me angry. I know there are really bad people in prison, but every single one of them is a human being. The percentage of the really bad is small compared to the rest of the prison population who got a sentence that did not fit the crime, or is innocent. Add to that the ones who are mentally ill and have no way to get the help they need. I’m not trying to say that everyone imprisoned should be let go. I’m talking about the ones imprisoned who are there to fill a bed so more profit can be made. These are the ones given extraordinarily long sentences that serve no purpose beyond financial gain. The parole board won’t parole them even though they have numerous letters of recommendation that they be given their life back. These are the people inside who help fill the percentage dictated in the contracts the corporations have with the prisons. These contracts say the prisons have to be kept full or the government has to pay them for empty beds. Do you know about this? It doesn’t matter that these are real people whose lives have been destroyed to fill a quota.
Our injustice system is sick. It is the same system that will arrest a young girl for using the camera on her phone to document a cop abusing his role and hurt a student and then arrested the girl who took pictures of the abuse. We protect the criminals with a badge and instead lock of the citizens who are whistleblowing the cops. How long can this country function with these corrupt standards? How many people have to have their lives destroyed for the sake of the profit for someone else? Why is this allowed? I know there are people and organizations who are trying to stop it. Why isn’t it working? Who is pulling the strings? Not one of us is safe.
I have read monstrously stupid comments that people leave on the internet when they have been sucked into the propaganda and lies. You would think by now they’d be tired of being sheep, led around by their noses. Even so, many of those who do know the truth do nothing. They read – they sing to the choir – but when it comes right down to helping any of the people who have been destroyed by this system it is too much for them. How can people not want to help? If each person reached out to even one person, what a difference it would make. So many people are fanatical about saving unborn children but they do NOTHING to help a living human being who needs to know that he matters. No, that is too much to ask. What has anyone done for one of these babies, born into an abusive home who ends up in a foster home and then over 70% of them end up in prison because of that abuse? What have you done for these people? The people who want to control other people’s pregnancies are a bunch of hypocrites. You climb onto a cause and shoot off your mouth but really have no concern for people. If you did, you’d do something for someone already living.
This election cycle there is a lot of talk for the first time about changing our prison system but there has been no talk about the contracts the prison corporations have. So, to me, it sounds like a farce. Tell the people what they want to hear, knowing it will just be another thing that will never happen, just like all the promises were got in the past that never happened. But people will vote based on the promises that mean nothing. Then, when it is too late to do anything, they will get angry when the promises aren’t fulfilled. Then they will call their elected leaders names. Big deal, what will that accomplish? People need to do something now, not when it is too late.