Prisoner rights deals on the principle of prisoners being deprived their liberty when they should be entitled to basic rights. People who advocate for prisoners rights say that prisoners are deprived basic rights with cooperation of prison authorities. Prison authorities has problem turning blind eye to prisoners who are raped and assaulted where they fail in offering protection and allowing them to be assaulted and raped by their fellow inmates. Prisoners are not given sufficient medical care in case of medical conditions that are serious, they suffer in prisons without anyone to take care of them and some end up loosing their lives.
When prisoners raise complaints about bad conditions, they are punished and are not given room to air their views. These make prisoners to suffer and they are not taken care of if they are in problems that need attention. Prisoners do not have freedom to express themselves, communicate to each other and to read materials that can enlighten them. This is depriving prisoners of their rights because, they are normal human beings and even though they have been imprisoned for doing wrong; their rights need to be respected.
Prisoners do not have the right to sue their officials. This right has been taken away from them which make them to be mistreated by the official. They do not also sue the government for maltreatment and in case of injuries that result from prison authorities being negligent, they are not compensated. Inmates are deprived of their freedom of religion where they do not worship room the churches where they belong to. Prisoners do not have access to legal materials and do not have the right to access the courts.
Prisoners are not fed well and their cloths are not in good conditions. (Palmer, 1984). Prisoners have right to good time credit and privileges. These privileges can be forfeited only if the prisoner is caught with serious misconduct where prisoner looses minimum procedures that are appropriate depending on the circumstances under which he has misconduct. If the prisoner behaves well while in prison, he enjoys the privileges of living a normal and comfortable life until his term in prison is over.
The interests of prisoners are balanced with the prison valid interest in maintaining order, security and preventing guards from being retaliated by the prisoners and lowering tension in prisons. Some prisoners may be drug addicts who interfere with security in prisons. These prisoners should be handled with care so that may not cause tension in prison or harass the guards. Their behavior should be monitored every now and then and there is need to isolate them from the ones that do not cause chaos, this would be very necessary to both the inmates and officials.
Prisoner has right to close analysis of regulations and statutes that are applicable before there can be transfer of prisoner from one prison to another and the harm that has been suffered by the transferee should be put into consideration. Before a prisoner is transferred, his records should be analyzed so that they can be presented to the prison where he is transferred to so that he can continue serving for the remaining term until his release from prison. If he suffers any harm in the course of transfer, he should be compensated accordingly. Davis, 1989).
Prisoners with mental problems are supposed to be transferred to mental institution here their health condition is checked and they get the necessary treatment until their health condition comes back to normal. Prisoners without mental problems have the right to be separated from those with mental problems so that they may not be attacked or harmed by the ones with mental problems. This allows normal prisoners to feel secure while serving their sentence because they should not be exposed to any danger.
Due process which is minimal requires process of revocation, parolee arrest and formal revocation. There are rights of parolee where following his arrest; there is informal hearing that determines reasonable grounds for the revocation of parole. Preliminary hearings are done in a reasonable manner to determine whether the parole should be arrested and there should be adequate sources of evidence which should be heard by someone who is not directly involved in the case.
The parole should be given notice on the day when his case will be heard so that he can make the necessary preparations depending on the alleged violations in order to stand on his own behalf and give evidence. He should be given chance to examine the people who give adverse evidence that are against him unless it is needed not to reveal. Once the hearing is digested by the hearing officer, his decision should be based on adduced evidence at the hearing. Prisoners who have physical, sensory or mental disabilities have right to equal participation in the life of prison.
They should not be refused to live like other prisoners even if they have disabilities because disability is not inability. Every prisoner has the right of not being bulled, abused or intimidated at any given time. Even if a prisoner has committed crime, the right legal procedure should be followed to make judgment but it is against the prisoner right to abuse them when they are imprisoned. The legal rights of prisoners include, rights to be visited by solicitor and have correspondence, right to begin court proceedings in person or by use of solicitor and present their case in court.
Board for monitoring or a governor must avail themselves everyday to listen to complaints and requests of prisoners and reply to them in writing within a period of seven days. The prisoner should not explain why they are complaining but should only say the reason why it is a secret. This will make the prisoners be satisfied with the final judgment because, it shall have followed the right procedure until a fair decision is made. (Hall, 1971). Prisoners have the right to have newspapers, books, leaflets and information for all ethnic groups that are in prison that reflects their culture.
This helps them to be informed about the day today activities and advancements in the country as they read the daily newspapers because even if they are in prison, they still belong to the country and knowledge of current affairs is very important to them. Books and other reading material help them to know the shared beliefs and values of the tribes where they belong and how to follow the good conduct and behavior expected of them by the communities where they originated before they were taken to prison. Prisoners have the right to prison medical service. When they fall ill, they need not consult their own doctor or dentist.
These doctors provided in prison are experienced in their duties and they offer good quality treatment to prisoners after diagnosing the problem and administering the necessary treatment. Once the prisoners are treated, they have right to be given copies of their medical records so that they can use them for future reference if they required similar medical care. (Cooper, 2002). Prisoners have the right to have sometime set aside for exercise. The prison allows one hour each day for exercise and there are facilities available to be used for exercise although they are overcrowded most of the times.
Evening classes are provided where prisoners who have attained school age have fifteen hours of vocational training or for education and there are teachers available to teach them. Many prisoners develop a career while in prison that is very helpful to them when they go out. This is because they are given training in areas where they are best talented and gain skills necessary to earn a living by either being employed or to begin self employment. Once convicted prisoners arrive in prison, they have the right to be visited immediately and thereafter, one visit after two weeks.
Unconvicted prisoners can be visited on daily basis if the prison is able to facilitate this. Two letters can be sent every week by convicted prisoners where one of them is paid for by the prison and the other one they pay themselves. This serves as a good means of communication between prisoners and members of their families because they keep updating them on the progress in prison and to request for assistance needed. Prisoners have right to legislative reforms to prevent the deaths of Hepatitis C and HIV infected prisoners who are under healthcare providers in prison.
Prisoners who are HIV positive are given the necessary medicines all the time to increase their chances of survival and Hepatitis C patients are treated. In 1980s, rising populations in prisons strained the budget of state and there was rise in budget of health care in prisons at fast rate. Budget of health care was stretched by prison officials. Different protocols were employed for treating prisoners who were infected and analyzing variation in protocols of treatment was difficult. (Armstrong, 1935). Prisoners have the right to marry and have families.
Even if a person has committed crime, arrested and found guilty, he has the right to maintain his marriage and family even while he is in prison. He can not be denied a family because he has the right to have it at his own wish and take care of his children through providing for their daily bread the moment his term in prison is over. If the family breaks because some one has been imprisoned, it should not be the duty of court in that matter because, the family of the prisoner is separate from the case in hand.
Prisoners have the right to be disciplined once they are found guilty of an offence. This discipline helps to mould the character and to teach the prisoner how to behave in manner that is acceptable by the law. The term a prisoner serves in prison should help to change his behavior for the better and teach him how to observe good virtues. If punishment is required to be administered to the prisoners, it should be done in the right manner and the prisoner should be told why he is being punished depending on the crime committed. Prisoners have the right not to be tortured.
If a prisoner fails to give the information regarding the crime committed, torture should not be used to force him to disclose information that would act as evidence to the crime he committed. This is because, if he is tortured, he can give information which may not help in investigation in order to avoid any more torture. The prisoner should be allowed to provide evidence at his own free will and it is upon the judge to make the final judgment depending on the evidence provided. Prisoners have the right not to be discriminated according to the race or the ethnic group where they belong.
In making judgment, there should be no favor or discrimination. This means that, rules and regulations should be in place so that there is fair judgment to all prisoners. Prisoners have the right not to be executed if they are found not guilty of any offence. If the prisoner is found not guilty after providing evidence before the court, he should be set free. There should not be payment of bribe for the prisoner who is found guilty to be proved not guilty. If a judge is found receiving bribes from guilty prisoners, he should face the law because bribery is prohibited in making the final judgment of a crime. (Washington, 1990).
Courtney from Study Moose
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