There are many important underlying facts when it comes to the rights of prisoners. Any individual convicted on a felony charge that has either served prison time, or was convicted but never seen the inside of a prison facility, will lose a great deal of civil rights. The United States Constitution was writing for the sole principle of establishing guaranteed rights to all individuals. But with the increase in crime, and prison population, laws have been passed to bring forth harsher consequences to those who decide to break the law. The right to vote, and own firearms for hunting, or protection, is lost, while the burden of carrying one’s criminal history throughout life is another penalty.
Prisoner’s rights are needed in order to maintain democracy. Without prisoner’s rights, there would still be wardens applying the old autocratic style in their prison system, and inhumane methods of punishment would continue to be used. Rights of prisoners keep a positive list of checks and balances within the system, and allow for proper rules and regulations to be implemented. Sanitary living conditions, nutritional food, healthcare, rehabilitation, and religion are just a few of the rights prisoners have earned back over the years. Furthermore, prisoners are allowed to appeal their cases, this is necessary for capital punishment cases, and legal action can be taking against administrative abuse (Wikipedia, 2008).
There are many benefits prisoners have regarding rights. First prisoners are not left feeling as though the court system disregards any concerns one may have. Prisoners are now allowed visitation with family and friends, and in certain states conjugal visits are permitted. Appeals are now immediately filed for capital punishment cases, and appeals can be file based on neglectful representation by counsel, and for the purpose of analyzing a case regarding a lower court’s decision. Another leading benefit is prisoners can file lawsuits for grievances, abuse by other inmates and officials, and for a number of other concerns while incarcerated (Wikipedia, 2008).
A few leading negative concerns regarding prisoners right’s is the over profusion of meaningless lawsuits filed each year. These lawsuits have cost tax payers millions of dollars, and in return are congesting the court room. Moreover, correctional officials are hesitant when it comes to making decisions that may bring forth a personal lawsuit by the prisoner, or on the prison facility. Now that prisoners are capable of filing lawsuits and class action law suits at hardly any cost, prison lawsuits are growing immensely.
Social behavior over the years has become much better behind prison walls then in the past. Prison officials are offered better training, and education to deal with, and prevent numerous situations. Recreations such as outside-inside activities, along with rehabilitation-treatment programs are now offered, and help alleviate inmate idleness. For those individuals who pose a serious risk to themselves and others, higher levels of security and prison restriction are bestowed upon them. There is still a great deal of prison violence that occurs on a daily basis. Ethnic diversity is increasing in the United States, and our prison systems are being flooded with different cultures, outlooks, behaviors, and personal beliefs, for what is right, and wrong. Moreover, overcrowding is another issue that has brought negative social issues in the prison system (Campbell, 2006).
The Eight Amendment to the Bill of Rights of the U.S. Constitution has enormous importance for every legal and illegal individual and prisoners residing here in the United States. The Eight Amendment affirms all bail amounts-fines will be reasonable and non-excessive. In addition no individual will be forced to endure a cruel and unusual punishment. Over the years a few leading case laws have forced our legal system to take notice and reject the use of certain Capital Punishment techniques, such the execution by shooting. In Wilkerson vs. Utah 1879, the United States Supreme Court ruled against the use of shooting. The Supreme Court stated death is not cruel and unusual as long as the execution is conducted in a humane manner without the use of torture and lingering pain. After the civil war in 1868, the 14th Amendment litigation was created and forced on all states, guaranteeing the Due Process of Law, and equal protection. (Eisenhower, 2008).
Section 1983 of title 42 is another method that can be used in the event a prisoner’s rights have been violated. The Supreme court noted that correctional facilities are exempt from any such lawsuit, but municipalities, and counties are allegeable for suite if the courts find either is in violation of a local government policy. Even though correctional facilities are exempt from suit, any official that deprives a prisoner of his, or her, rights, privileges, or disregards security can be held liable. Many lawsuits have been filed in regard to healthcare, inmate attacks, Due Process issues, habeas corpus, sanitary conditions, and religious expression (Cornell University Law School, 2008).
I strongly agree prisoners should have certain rights, but these rights need to be limited. Prison was originally designed for the sole purpose of punishment, an environment filled with convicted murderers, rapists and other serious offenders. Prison to some has become a way of life, and with this being said, those particular individuals have fought hard for certain rights that should not be allowed. The frivolous law suite’s that are constantly filed by prisoners should not be taking lightly by the courts, and inmates filing these suits should be reprimanded in return. In the 1990’s Mr. Washington pollster Jan van Lohuizan invented the term “lawsuit abuse.” Reason being was a study showed that the Chamber of Commerce spent over $100 million dollars in as little as three years on Tort reform and other advertising to prevent prison lawsuits. Moreover, in 2002, lawsuits cost the economy over $233 billion dollars; therefore, forcing each American citizen to pay an annual “lawsuit tax” of approximately seven to eight hundred dollars (Insideperson.com, 2006).
Campbell, D. (2006). Progressive Librarian: The Context of the Information Behavior
of Prison Inmates. http://www.libr.org/pl/26_Campbell.html
Retrieved December 14, 2008, from
Cornell University Law School. (2008). U.S. Code Collection: 1983 Civil action for deprivation of rights. Retrieved December 14, 2008, from http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/html/uscode42/usc_sec_42_00001983—-000-.html
Eisenhower, D. (2008). Eight Amendment. Retrieved December 14, 2008, from http://law.jrank.org/pages/6368/Eighth-Amendment.html
Insideperson.com. (2006). Lawsuit Abuse Statistics. Retrieved December 14, 2008, from http://www.insideprison.com/lawsuit-abuse-statistics.asp
Wikipedia. (2008). Prisoners Rights. Retrieved December 14, 2008, from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prisoners’_rights