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The Legal World, Prisoners’ Rights


  1. Chapter 11, “The Legal World, Prisoners’ Rights,” in your Corrections in the 21st Century textbook.
    1. Summarize inmates’ rights and the U.S. cases that awarded them those rights.
    2.  Explain how inmates’ rights impact correctional administration.
    3.  Articulate your perspective about whether inmates have too many or too few rights.
    4.  Assess the rights of inmates in the U.S.

Prisoners do not have full access to constitutional rights but they are protected by the Eighth Amendment's prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment. This protection also requires that prisoners be afforded a minimum standard of living. For example, in Brown v. Plata, the Supreme Court upheld a court-mandated population limit to curb overpopulation which violated the Eighth Amendment in California prisons. However, federal and state laws govern the establishment and administration of prisons as well as the rights of the inmates.

Regardless, prisoners retain some constitutional rights, such as due process in their right to administrative appeals and a right of access to the parole process. Additionally, the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment applies to prison inmates, protecting them against unequal treatment on the basis of race, sex, and creed, and the Model Sentencing and Corrections Act, created by the Uniform Law Commission in 1978, provides that a confined person has a protected interest in freedom from discrimination on the basis of race, religion, national origin, or sex. Prisoners also have rights to speech and religion, to the extent these rights do not interfere with their status as inmates.



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