Stuck in the Big House? Here Are Your Prisoner Rights

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Sheriff Joe Arpaio became infamous for pushing the limits of prisoner’s rights.

He would often make prisoners wear bright pink underwear for mental humiliation. Inmates slept in tents in the Arizona desert where it reaches up to 114F.

While very controversial, Arpaio continued to push boundaries for 20 years. He faced several lawsuits. The public continues to be divided over whether his actions violated an inmate’s rights or not.

Actions such as these call into question what rights an inmate actually has. Wouldn’t you like to know about your rights in case you are ever convicted of a crime?

Keep reading to learn more about prisoner rights and privileges.

A Comprehensive Guide to All Inmates Rights

Do prisoners have rights?

When you’ve been convicted of a crime, it’s hard to remember that you do. After all, the point of imprisonment is to punish you for breaking the law.

Here are some things to remember about your Constitutional rights. Even as an inmate, you have the right to:

  • Remain free of cruel and unusual punishment
  • Be free from sex crimes
  • Medical care
  • Free speech and religion (with restrictions)
  • Be free from discrimination
  • Humane living conditions
  • Express complaints (and seek a lawsuit)

The only way an official can get away with subverting your rights is by doing so against the law. Guantanamo Bay Prison has been controversial for this reason.

When Officials Violate your Prisoner Rights

When a person of authority violates your prisoner rights, you have legal options.

You can file a lawsuit by following the steps outlined in the Prison Litigation Reform Act.

It’s challenging to go through these procedures while you’re locked up. It’s advised that you seek out a criminal defense attorney for help.

Will my Lawsuit be Successful?

On top of the legal complexities, you’ll be facing an uphill battle seeking justice as an inmate.

Prejudices still exist, and courts will often take the side of correctional officers.

A recent example of this is the execution of Chris Young. The inmate’s behavior should’ve allowed him to get clemency in Texas, but his pleas fell on deaf ears.

Many suspected racial discrimination played a part in his denial. Lawyers pursued a lawsuit, but it went nowhere. The judge denied the suit and claimed it would’ve been impossible for Young to get a fair hearing.

Overview of Inmate Rights

Despite a conviction, no one can take away an inmate’s Constitutional rights. An overview of the most important prisoner rights are:

  • The right to be free of cruel and unusual punishment
  • The right to remain free from sex crimes and discrimination
  • Right to healthcare
  • Right to freedom of speech and religion (with restrictions)
  • The right to seek a lawsuit against violations

Even winning your lawsuit may not mean justice.

Among the list of prisoners’ rights is the right to remain free of wrongful imprisonment. Californians who win their cases still face challenges collecting their rightful compensation.

It’s important for us all to stand up for the rights of inmates when we hear of violations.

Keep up with the latest news about this topic and more by following us on Twitter @axcessnews.

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Melissa Thompson

Melissa is a mother of 2, lives in Utah, and writes for a multitude of sites. She is currently the EIC of and writes about health, wellness, and business topics.