Many people think that, just because a prisoner is within the criminal justice system, they do not have rights. This is far from the truth. Even the most hardened criminals have basic rights protected by the U.S. Constitution. Now you can find out about some of these rights and what they mean for you.
Prisoner Rights FAQ
Do I, as an inmate, have the right to be free of cruel or unusual punishments? Yes, even as a prisoner you have Eighth Amendment rights that say you must remain free from inhuman conditions in prisons. This means that, any punishment that can be considered inhumane treatment or violates dignity may be found as cruel and unusual. For example, a federal court in the District of Columbia found that prison officials were sexually harassing, raping, assaulting, and sodomizing female inmates, which brought action against the prison. Along with this, there was also a lack of medical care available, which is a necessity within functioning prison walls.
Do I have a right to medical care or disability programs? Yes. If you are a disabled prisoner, you have rights under the Americans with Disabilities Act and are permitted to have access to prison programs. Furthermore, as an inmate you are entitled to medical care and attention to treat either short-term and long-term illnesses and conditions. The treatment must be “adequate” under all circumstances.
What First Amendment rights do I have? You do have First Amendment rights, but it really depends on the situation because you must also watch what you say. You have rights that are not inconsistent with your inmate status and must keep order, discipline, and security. This means, for example, that you are not permitted to tell other inmates that you are going to kill them, because this is threatening behavior. Prison officials are also able to breach privacy in matters involving mail to ensure that mail does not contain illegal items or weapons, but may not censor parts of the correspondence that they find to be “rude.”
Do I have the right to privacy? In some cases, no. The prison is permitted to take action against a prisoner to conduct a search of their cell at any point to look for weapons, drugs, or other contraband they suspect may be in there. However, they are also entitled to advance written notice when action is taken against them.
What happens if I am to be moved to a mental health facility? If the prison system wants to move you to a mental health facility, they must first give you the right to a hearing. However, you are not entitled to a full-blown hearing if you have not been taking medication distributed to you by the government for your ailments.
How far is a police officer permitted to enforce the law? In some situations, you may wonder if the police violated your rights and because of this, you landed in the prison system. Here are some of the cases in which this occurs, which may warrant having an attorney on your side:
- False arrest by an unreasonable search and seizure
- Malicious prosecution when there was no probable cause and a hearing was brought against a victim maliciously
- Excessive force by the police, without being reasonable
- Failure to intervene when an officer watched another officer take illegal action
Do you feel as if your rights are being violated in the criminal justice system? Do you want justice brought to your case? Hire a defense attorney who can help you every step of the way in regards to your case. If you were treated unfairly, we will fight for you. Give us a call at The Law Office of Peter Blair today.