Essay Example on Prisoners' Rights

Published: 2023-01-05
Essay Example on Prisoners' Rights
Type of paper:  Essay
Categories:  Justice Penal system Punishment Constitution Human rights
Pages: 4
Wordcount: 828 words
7 min read


The prison system in the United States involves concurrent power where the federal governments have powers, which they share with state governments on the same subject matter, citizens and territory. The prison system consists of juvenile, psychiatric, and high, medium and minimum security with Supermax prisons and solitary confinement are examples of high-security prisons in the United States. Solitary confinement involves holding of prisoners in a single cell with only one hour or less for seeing the sun or light with restricted contact with prison staff, fellow prisoners and the outside world. Supermax prisons involve strict and long isolation of prisoners by providing top-notch security to prisoners classified as difficult to control or high risk (Shalev, 2011). The paper will explain rights that prisoners should possess provide arguments for prison rights and state one negative consequence of having prisoners' rights.

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Rights to Possess

The 8th amendment, right to court access and complain about prison conditions, right to freedom from sexual harassment and crime, right to seek medical attention and the 1st amendment are rights which convicted felons and inmates should possess. The eighth amendment involves prisoners to be provided with minimum living standard and be free from usual and cruel punishment such as burning alive, beheading, public dissection, quartering and drawing, disembowelment and other forms of violating basic dignity of a person (Jurkowski, 2017). Also, convicted felons also have a right to access courts to voice their concern on the prison conditions that are considered as inhumane and be free to exercise the due process of administrative appeals and parole process.

Additionally, the right of freedom from sexual harassment and crime is also protected under the fourteenth amendment clause of equal protection, which states that all prisoners are protected from unequal treatment regarding creed, sex, and race with a further Act of model sentencing and corrections adding religion and national origin as ways not to discriminate. Prisoners also have a right to seek medical attention and care that is affordable and adequate to keep them reasonably comfortable (Jurkowski, 2017). Conclusively, prisoners have a right to the first amendment, which gives freedom of free religion and speech so long as the rights do not intervene with their inmate's status.

Arguments for Prison Rights

Social interaction and humanity are arguments that support prison rights. No man is an island, and thus human interactions are important for the well-being and health of people. Having rights such as the 8th amendment ensure that solitary confinement is not advocated as a means of punishment as it is considered cruel and inhumane (Matter, 2010). Further, social interaction prevents prisoners in solitary confinement from having suicidal thoughts, engaging in violent behavior, having a mental breakdown and psychotic episodes, and falling into a mindless condition (Fathi, 2010). Humanity is also an argument for prison rights as though they are confined, prisoners are human with emotions and feelings and that having rights is not a privilege but a basic need for all people. Going to prison is already a punishment as one is excluded from society and its values and denying them rights will cause more harm than good (Chin, 2011).

Negative Consequence

Security threat is a negative consequence of having too many prison rights. Having too many prison rights such as access to court and complains about prison conditions results in a reduction in the discretionary powers of prison officers, which threaten the independence, and autonomy of the prison system and its administrators. Prisoners with rights appear to be privileged and thus differ with justice and punishment as the primary purpose of the judicial systems (Harris & Stanley, 2018). Also, having too many prison rights creates a sense of ownership where prisoners feel like the government owes them for infringing their rights, and this creates feelings of destruction and violence on failure to implement their rights.


Conclusively, all prisoners should possess rights as they are human just like other people. Rights to 1st and 8th amendment, seek medical care, and access to courts and complain about prison conditions should be posses by the inmates fully. Further, prison rights should be embraced for purposes of social interaction and humanity as all people including prisoners require basic needs and minimum decent treatment with a clear avoidance of too many rights which may hinder the autonomy of the prison administration system.


Chin, G. J. (2011). The new civil death: Rethinking punishment in the era of mass conviction. U. Pa. L. Rev., 160, 1789.

Fathi, D. (2010). Supermax Prisons: Cruel, Inhuman and Degrading. Retrieved from

Harris, A., & Stanley, E. (2018). Exacerbating risks and diminishing rights for 'at-risk'prisoners. Criminology & Criminal Justice, 18(5), 515-532.

Jurkowski, S. (2017). Prisoners' rights. Retrieved from

Matter, L. (2010). Hey, I Think We're Unconstitutionally Alone Now: Th Eighth Amendment Protects Social Interaction as a Basic Human Need. J. Gender Race & Just., 14, 265.

Shalev, S. (2011). Solitary confinement and supermax prisons: A human rights and ethical analysis. Journal of Forensic Psychology Practice, 11(2-3), 151-183.

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