The Rights of Prisoners: Overview

Appealing to Justice: Prisoner Grievances, Rights, and Carceral Logic



Rights of Prisoners .--Until relatively recently the view prevailed that a prisoner ''has, as a consequence of his crime, not only forfeited his liberty, but all his personal rights except those which the law in its humanity accords to him. He is for the time being the slave of the state.'' This view is not now the law, and may never have been wholly correct. In 1948 the Court declared that ''[l]awful incarceration brings about the necessary withdrawal or limitation of many privileges and rights''; ''many,'' indicated less than ''all,'' and it was clear that the due process and equal protection clauses to some extent do apply to prisoners. More direct acknowledgment of constitutional protection came in 1972: ''[f]ederal courts sit not to supervise prisons but to enforce the constitutional rights of all 'persons,' which include prisoners. We are not unmindful that prison officials must be accorded latitude in the administration of prison affairs, and that prisoners necessarily are subject to appropriate rules and regulations. But persons in prison, like other individuals, have the right to petition the Government for redress of grievances. . . .'' However, while the Court affirmed that federal courts have the responsibility to scrutinize prison practices alleged to violate the Constitution, at the same time concerns of federalism and of judicial restraint caused the Court to emphasize the necessity of deference to the judgments of prison officials and others with responsibility for administering such systems.

Save for challenges to conditions of confinement of pretrial detainees, the Court has generally treated challenges to prison conditions as a whole under the cruel and unusual punishments clause of the Eighth Amendment, and challenges to particular incidents and practices under the due process clause as well as under more specific provisions, such as the speech and religion clauses. Prior to formulating its current approach, the Court recognized several rights of prisoners. Prisoners have a right to be free of racial segregation in prisons, except for the necessities of prison security and discipline. They have the right to petition for redress of grievances, which includes access to the courts for purposes of presenting their complaints, and to bring actions in federal courts to recover for damages wrongfully done them by prison administrators. And they have a right, circumscribed by legitimate prison administration considerations, to fair and regular treatment during their incarceration.

Reconciling the Rights of Sikh Prisoners | The Langar Hall

  • Andy Worthington says...

    Amy Mueller wrote:

    Prolonged segregation is increasingly becoming a problem in US prisons and it is in place under the guise of punishment and safety. One of the inmates I work with was taken off of death row to be put into segregation for six months and having all of her goods taken from her. There is no reason for this other than individual people upset that her death sentence was over-turned, though the ‘official’ reason is to monitor her as she transitions from death row to general population. (How does segregation help a transition when one was segregated in death row to begin with?) BUT, should a foreign government hold a US citizen in solitary for more than a few days, they are torturing our citizen. Doesn’t matter that we do it to our own citizens. Doesn’t matter that we do it to the citizens of other countries. The systematic violations of basic human rights of prisoners within the US is maddening – the fact so few people care makes me feel insane.

  • Defending the Rights of Prisoners and Inmates | People's Law Office

    The right of a prisoner to inherit property or receive a pension can be affected by various state laws. Most of the legal disabilities to which prisoners are subject are upheld because they do not interfere with fundamental human rights.

    the functions of the jail or prison. As an example, discuss the mandatory rights that prison administrators must provide prisoners and discuss how those rights are balanced with the security, safety, court requirements, visits, and other functions of the facility. Provide an example of where a corrections officer must balance the rights of the inmates with his own daily functions. According to the Course Text there is a consideration of constitutional law and prisoners’ rights such as civil rights of prisoners, the prisons and jails must operate under the law to be able to successfully take care of the inmates by which they house within their facilities, they have to teach and educate each officer on all levels of the understanding of the constitution, and not only for the guiding and maintaining a safe environment and implementing the proper rules and regulations when it comes to inmates but the officers on duty within the jail and prisons are heal accountable for knowing and understanding they have the rights and must be also treated under the constitution as employees, the inmates within the confinement has over the years been able to study and gain a knowledge that may even be superior to 85% of the officers that works within a facility and often times know how to work and use the constitution against