8th Amendment Rights In Prison Research Paper

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Prison is an extremely dangerous place, for both correctional officers and inmates. Nonviolent prisoners are held in the same quarters as convicted murderers, sex offenders, and other dangerous felons. With such unpredictable criminals, many pre-existing rights are abolished and new regulations set in place to maintain order within the prison. However, many times inmates are taken advantage of by prison staff simply for the prison’s benefit, and the few rights inmates have are taken from them without their knowledge. The rights of prisoners are constantly being infringed upon, and stricter enforcement of the rules needs to be set in place. Prison conditions, from hygiene to other inmates, are extremely dangerous and can majorly impact an inmate’s…show more content…
Inmates are only allowed to retain their Eighth Amendment rights and several aspects of their First Amendment rights, both of which may be forfeited for security purposes. The Eighth Amendment states that inmates have the right to be free from “cruel and unusual punishment” (U.S. Constitution. Art./Amend. VIII), a term which is not thoroughly described in the Constitution and is therefore up for interpretation by the court. Several of the First Amendment rights that are preserved in prison including sending and receiving letters, reading approved material, using the telephone, and visitation privileges. However, many of these rights are restricted or banned entirely if the prison sees danger in allowing access to the activities. The remainder of the relevant Amendment Rights are completely forfeited in prison, Inmates lose their search and seizure rights, the right to vote, and aspects of their freedom of speech. Even then, the scarce rights that prisoners have are often waived by the prison in order to maintain order. Nevertheless, prisons must have a legitimate concern for safety if they desire to prohibit certain activities from the general population or certain inmates, and many times this is not the case. In a famous court case, inmates protested against mail censorship in their prison. It is common for threatening material in incoming mail to be censored by prison staff; however, in this case the censored portions were not malicious, but discourteous in racial, religious, and personal ways. The Supreme Court eventually ruled the prison’s censorship unjust, because the content of the letters was not threatening the lives of other inmates, prison staff, or any other civilians outside prison. (Procunier v. Martinez. Supreme Court. 1974. Print.) Prisons have certain jurisdiction over the rights of inmates; nonetheless, their actions may not always be

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