A prison is a place where those convicted of crimes serve time as a way to repay a debt to society. While there is a common conception of prisons as being places where officers can freely treat inmates poorly because of their criminal history, the fact is that such behavior is not acceptable.
When you are in prison, the law protects you from abuse at the hands of other prisoners as well as from officers and prison officials. Know about your rights that protect you from various types of abuse that may take place in the prison setting, including assault and discrimination.
Your rights against assault
The Department of Justice outlines a prisoner’s right to be free from assault as provided by the U.S. Constitution. This includes instances of using excessive force, acting with an intent to harm a prisoner and even making threats. Sexual assault is a particularly intolerable crime and one that inmates should report immediately whether they are a victim of it or not.
Your rights against discrimination
Discrimination is another form of abuse that occurs in prisons on an unfortunately common basis. However, prison officials may not discriminate against a prisoner based on disabilities, gender identities or any other similar personal traits. Religious discrimination is also unacceptable, and in fact, prison officials must make reasonable accommodations for all inmates to observe religious exercises safely.
You should immediately talk to someone you trust if you feel that you are a target of prison abuse, even if that means a social worker rather than an officer. While it can feel like you have no choice but to follow the status quo, you do have options for seeking legal action against inmates and officers that would do you harm in prison.