Right of Prisoners


There are many state laws that dictate how citizens are to be treated. There are also state and federal laws which dictate how prisoners should be treated and what rights they are still allowed to have as a prisoner. A prisoner is someone who is paying their debt to society for a crime they committed. That is why their rights are somewhat lessened than the average citizen.

State and federal laws tend to govern both administration of prisons and their initial establishment along with the rights of inmates. The prisoners don’t have full constitutional rights but they are still protected by the document against cruel and unusual punishment. This goes on to require that they are given at least a specific minimum standard of living. Some are able to retain their rights. They also have the right to due process through which they can appear their sentence and they can also have access to parole. The Equal Protection Clause in the 14th amendment also applies to prison inmates. They cannot be judged simply because of their sex or their race or creed. In fact, they have an interest in freedom from discrimination from these things. Their rights to speech and religion are also limited.

Some state prisons have no rights to classifications under most state law. Courts are reluctant to limit these things and usually leave them up to the discretion of prison state officials to classify the prisoners in their care. This includes things like solitary confinement, maximum security, etc.

Congress has gone ahead and provided some officials in federal prisons the full power to classify prisoners and affect the conditions of their confinement. These matters are general given by the federal bureau of prisons. The courts provide deference to the prison officials on matters of human rights. That is, as long as the degree or conditions of said confinement are not violating the constitution and are not going beyond the scope of the sentence. Due process does not require judicial oversight, however. The real test is to see whether there is a rational relation to state interest.

Overall a citizen is given rights protected by the government the same way a prisoner is. The difference is that a prisoner has fewer rights while they are serving their debt to society than the average citizen. Nonetheless they are afforded some level of protection by state and federal laws.

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