What Basic Rights Do Prisoners Have?


Quick Answer

Every prisoner in the United States has a right to be free from cruel and unusual punishment and sexual harassment. Each prisoner has the right to complain about prison conditions, the right to freedom of speech, and the right to receive medical care or mental health assistance. Prisoners have protection by the first and eighth amendment and can retain basic freedoms such as the freedoms of speech and religion and equal protection of law, explains HG.org.

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Full Answer

Prison inmates also have the right to be free from racial segregation and have access to judicial courts. While prisoners receive these basic rights in confinement, prisons have the power to curtail the rights of their occupants in order to preserve the safety and security of the prison. In prisons, inmates lose their right to privacy and do not have protection from unwarranted searches of their bodies or cell quarters. Courts tend to give deference to prison officials regarding prisoners' rights, according to the Cornell University Law School.

Although America has only 5 percent of the world's population, the United States has more than 20 percent of the world's prison population. This statistic makes the United States the world's largest jailer. In the United States today, one in 110 adults are in prison, notes the American Civil Liberties Union.

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