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NCJ Number: 47936 Find in a Library
Title: LEGAL RIGHTS OF PRISONERS (FROM JUSTICE AND CORRECTIONS, 1978, BY NORMAN JOHNSTON AND LEONARD D SAVITZ - SEE NCJ-47922)
Author(s): D FOGEL
Corporate Author: John Wiley and Sons, Inc.
United States of America
Date Published: 1978
Page Count: 12
Sponsoring Agency: John Wiley and Sons, Inc.
Hoboken, NJ 07030-5774
Format: Document
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: JUDICIAL DECISIONS MANDATING THE SCOPE OF THE LEGAL RIGHTS OF PRISONERS ARE REVIEWED.
Abstract: FIRST, DECISIONS RELATING TO CHALLENGES OF THE CONDITIONS OF CONFINEMENT ARE EXAMINED. USUALLY, THE CONSTITUTIONAL BASIS FOR THESE SUITS IS THE EIGHTH AMENDMENT'S BAN ON CRUEL AND UNUSUAL PUNISHMENT, THOUGH THE DUE PROCESS CLAUSE OF THE FOURTEENTH AMENDMENT IS SOMETIMES INVOKED. USING THESE PROVISIONS, PRISONERS HAVE CHALLENGED PHYSICAL BRUTALITY, CONDITIONS IN SOLITARY CONFINEMENT, PUNISHMENT FOR IMPROPER REASONS, FAILURE OF PRISON PERSONNEL TO PROTECT INMATES FROM ASSAULT AND OTHER INJURIES, AND FAILURE TO PROVIDE MEDICAL CARE. THERE ARE TWO MAJOR CASES IN THE AREA OF CORPORAL PUNISHMENT, AND BOTH EXAMINED THE CONSTITUTIONALITY OF WHIPPING AS PUNISHMENT IN THE ARKANSAS PRISON SYSTEM. ALTHOUGH THE U.S. SUPREME COURT RULED THAT FLOGGING WAS BY NATURE CRUEL AND UNUSUAL PUNISHMENT, BY THE TIME THE CASES WERE ADJUDICATED, FLOGGING HAD BEEN OUTLAWED BY THE STATE. REGARDING PHYSICAL BRUTALITY IN GENERAL, A MORE RECENT CASE GREW OUT OF THE INMATE RIOT AT ATTICA, NEW YORK. AFTER THE RIOT, THE PRISONERS' COMPLAINED THAT THE GUARDS RETALIATED AGAINST THEM WITH BRUTAL AND ABUSIVE TREATMENT. THE COURTS FOUND THAT THE PHYSICAL FORCE USED WENT FAR BEYOND WHAT WAS NECESSARY TO KEEP ORDER AND THAT THE GUARDS' CONDUCT AMOUNTED TO A VIOLATION OF THE EIGHTH AMENDMENT. PRISONERS HAVE ALSO USED THE EIGHTH AMENDMENT TO CHALLENGE THE CONDITIONS OF SOLITARY CONFINEMENT. NONE OF THE RESULTING DECISIONS HAVE DECLARED SOLITARY CONFINEMENT TO BE CRUEL AND UNUSUAL PUNISHMENT, BUT THEY HAVE SOMETIMES PROHIBITED ITS MORE INHUMANE APPLICATIONS. NEXT, CHALLENGES REGARDING FIRST AMENDMENT RELIGIOUS RIGHTS ARE DISCUSSED. BECAUSE FREEDOM OF RELIGION IS CONSIDERED ONE OF THE FUNDAMENTAL FREEDOMS, THE FEDERAL COURTS HAVE SHOWN GREATER WILLINGNESS TO SCRUTINIZE PRISON PRACTICES ALLEGEDLY BURDENING RELIGIOUS RIGHTS. SPECIFICALLY, THE COURTS HAVE RULED THAT PRISONERS ARE GUARANTEED THE RIGHT TO SPECIAL RELIGIOUS DIETS, THAT PRISONERS MAY RECEIVE RELIGIOUS LITERATURE, AND THAT THEY MAY MAINTAIN COMMUNICATIONS WITH SPIRITUAL ADVISORS. REGARDING MAIL AND MEDIA RIGHTS, THERE IS GENERAL RECOGNITION THAT IMPRISONMENT NECESSITATES SOME CURTAILMENT OF FIRST AMENDMENT RIGHTS TO EXPRESSION, BUT HOW MUCH CURTAILMENT IS A MATTER OF DISAGREEMENT. IN A 1974 DECISION, THE SUPREME COURT INVALIDATED CALIFORNIA MAIL CENSORSHIP CRITERIA, CRITICIZING THEM AS TOO PERVASIVE ARBITRARY. WHERE REGULATIONS ON RECEIVING PUBLICATIONS ARE LIKEWISE PERVASIVE AND ARBITRARY, THE COURTS HAVE RULED ON THE BASIS OF THE EQUAL PROTECTION CLAUSE OF THE FOURTEENTH AMENDMENT. COURTS HAVE BEEN PARTICULARLY SOLICITOUS IF THEY SUSPECT DISCRIMINATION. (KBL)
Index Term(s): Constitutional Rights/Civil Liberties; Cruel and unusual punishment; Equal Protection; Freedom of speech; Inmate grievances; Judicial decisions; Prisoner's rights; Religious freedom
Note: REPRINTED FROM '...WE ARE THE LIVING PROOF...' - THE JUSTICE MODEL FOR CORRECTIONS, 1975
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http://www.ncjrs.gov/App/publications/abstract.aspx?ID=47936

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