It’s a common misconception that inmates do not have any rights while behind bars. That’s untrue. Inmates absolutely do have rights, but they vary depending on the state and holding facility. Still inmate’s rights are definitely curtailed. You lose a lot when you’re behind bars.
An Inmate’s Rights
While imprisoned, inmates’ rights vary depending on where they are incarcerated and what stage of the criminal process their undergoing. During the pretrial stage, inmates have the right to be held in a humane facility and cannot be treated as guilty while awaiting a trial. They cannot be punished. Other common inmate’s rights include:
- Freedom from Cruel and Unusual Punishment – Every inmate has the right, under the Eighth Amendment, to be free from inhumane treatment, or “cruel and unusual punishment.” A few examples including being burnt, tortured, publicly dissected, drawn and quartered, waterboarded, etc.
- Freedom from Sexual Harassment or Crimes – Inmates are free from sex crimes or sexual harassment, including crimes or harassment from other inmates or prison personnel. Many guards, administration personnel, and government officials have been charged with sexual harassment in prisons.
- Disability Rights – Prisoners with known disabilities are entitled to reasonable and humane accommodations, according to the Americans with Disabilities Act.
- First Amendment Rights – Inmates retain their First Amendment rights while in prison, including freedom of speech and religion.
- Freedom from Discrimination – Inmates have the right to freedom from discrimination while imprisoned in any facility. This includes, but is not limited to, racial segregation, ageism, or varied treatment based on ethnicity or religion.
What Rights Inmates Do Not Hold
Then, of course, there are the rights that inmates lose. First and foremost, inmates lose the right to protection from warrantless searches of their person or cell. Furthermore, though they retain the right to due process, this right does not cover contraband of any sort.