Prisoner rights in America are based largely on the provisions of the Bill of Rights. In this assignment, research and explain the primary amendments that have had, and still carry, an impact on prison law.
Referencing at least 4 credible sources and using proper American Psychological Association (APA) format and guidelines, address the following points in a 3–4-page Word document:
Identify and explain the following amendments:
Explain why prisoners have diminished constitutional rights.
Explain the limitations of these amendments as applied by correctional facilities.
Discuss how case law related to the aforementioned amendments have significantly impacted prisoner rights and corrections.
For each amendment, provide at least 1 example of case law.
When pursuing a redress of grievances against the government, what are the 2 major avenues of relief utilized by prisoners?
CRJS435 IP Assignment Overview: Unit 1 Individual Project
Often, when people are incarcerated, their constitutional rights begin to diminish, mostly because they are held in facilities where privacy and freedom to indulge in routine activities like other civilians is mainly controlled. Nonetheless, like other civilians, prisoners in the United States have rights, which are based on the country’s Bill of rights. Although they are subject to multiple limitations, the First, Fourth, Fifth, Eighth and Fourteenth Amendment of the constitution has a significant impact on the protection of inmates’ rights against cruel punishment, unreasonable search and seizure and promotion of due process on practices that deprive prisoners of their right to property and liberty.
The First Amendment of the American constitution is among provisions that govern the rights of prisoners in correctional facilities. The amendment “guarantees freedoms concerning religion, expression, assembly, and the right to petition” (“First Amendment”, n.d.). This Amendment forbids Congress from restricting people’s freedom to religious practices and promotes the right of people to assemble peacefully and express themselves through speech and other actions.
The Fourth Amendment of the constitution also governs the rights of prisoners in correctional facilities. Notably, the Amendment guarantees citizens protection against any unreasonable searches and seizures of property by the government (“Fourth Amendment”, n.d.). Often, the application of this Amendment is limited in correctional facilities due to the restricted privacy rights among prisoners.
The fifth Amendment governs the rights of life and property and has a significant impact on prisoners. Notably, the Amendment requires due process to be part of proceedings that deny any citizen life, liberty or property (“Fifth Amendment”, n.d.). In other words, the Amendment balances the power of the government over citizen’s rights.
Furthermore, the Eighth Amendment also plays a role in governing the rights of prisoners in correctional facilities. The Amendment prohibits cruel and unusual punishments among lawbreakers (“Eighth Amendment”, n.d.). As such, the Amendment carries an impact on prison law by protecting criminals against the infliction of cruel punishments by the criminal justice system.
Also, the Fourteenth Amendment has had and still carries an impact on the United States prison law. Notably, the Amendment offers protection to citizens against unequal treatment (14th Amendment, n.d.). In correctional facilities, the Amendment protects inmates against any form of unequal treatment based on ethnicity or race.
Despite being established to offer protection to civilians and prisoners, the five highlighted amendments are subject to a myriad of limitations when applied by correctional facilities. Notably, some of the Amendments, such as the Fourth Amendment has limited application in prisons, as prisoners may not have a reasonable expectation of privacy from searches and seizures of their cells by correctional officers. Furthermore, the implementation of the First Amendment is subject to limitations because prisoners are deprived of the right to speak freely in correctional centres. Also, placing prisoners in correctional facilities subjects them to potential physical and psychological harm, an aspect that appears to inhibit the application of the Eighth Amendment in correctional facilities. Based on this information, it can be argued that while the constitutional Amendments offer some form of protection to prisoners, their degree of protection is limited because one’s an individual is sent to jail, their capacity to provide security on their own and speak freely is stripped off.
Over the past few years, case laws related to the five amendments have significantly impacted prisoner’s rights and correction in the United States. For example, the Jones v. North Carolina Prisoners’ union (1977) case law has considerably influenced the prisoner’s rights to expression and assembly as established in the First Amendment. Notably, in the case scenario, the Supreme court held that prohibition of inmate-to-inmate solicitation to join the prisoner’s union did not unduly abridge inmate’s free speech rights as the prison officials were entitled to control organized union activity in the facility (“Jones v. North Carolina”, n.d.). This legal precedent has significantly limited prisoner’s rights to expression and assembly in correctional facilities.
Furthermore, the Hudson v. Palmer case law related to the Fourth Amendment has significantly impacted prisoner rights in prisons. Notably, the court in the identified case scenario held that prisoners were entitled to the protection of the Fourth Amendment against unreasonable searches by prison officers, such as those that aim at harassing or humiliating the inmate (“Hudson v. Palmer”, n.d.). This legal precedent has significantly fostered the prisoner’s rights to some degree of privacy in correctional facilities.
The Hudson v. Palmer case law has also been referenced in the majority of cases involving the application of the provisions of the Fourteenth Amendment in prisons. Notably, the respondent in the case scenario contended that the search and seizure by the prison officials violated the Due Process of the Fourteenth Amendment. The court held that the destruction caused by the search by the petitioner did not violate the Amendment since the respondent had adequate post-deprivation remedies for loss suffered in the facility (“Hudson v. Palmer”, n.d.). The selected case law has significantly balanced the power of the prison system and offered prisoners protection against destruction of property by prison officials.
Bell v. Wolfish (1979) case law has also had a significant impact on detainees’ rights in the United States. Notably, inmates in the Metropolitan Correctional Center filed a class action arguing that the conditions of confinement and practices in the Metropolitan Correctional Center infringed provisions of due process as established in the Fifth Amendment. Nonetheless, the court held that if restrictions in pretrial detention did not amount to punishment of the detainees, then the practice did not deprive the latter of their liberty without due process in contravention of the Fifth Amendment (“Bell v. Wolfish”, n.d.). This legal precedent has significantly limited detainees’ rights to the due process in prisons.
The Hudson v. McMillian case law has also had a significant impact on inmates’ corrections in prison. Notably, Hudson filed a suit after suffering minor bruises from a beating by correctional officers. Based on further testimonies by the petitioner, the court held that “the use of excessive physical force against a prisoner may constitute cruel and unusual punishment even though the inmate does not suffer serious injury” (“Hudson v. McMillian”, n.d.). This legal precedent has strongly impacted correction practices in the United States prisons and protected inmates against cruel punishment.
Despite having part of their rights stripped away, prisoners incarcerated lawfully have a right to pursue a redress of their grievances against the government through the district and Supreme courts. The first avenue, district court, can be utilized to file complaints against the prison administration or personnel for any form of unequal treatment and damages suffered in the correctional facility. Inmates can also redress their grievances through the Supreme court in instances where they are not satisfied with the decisions of the district courts.
“14th Amendment” (n.d.). Legal Information Institute. https://www.law.cornell.edu/constitution/amendmentxiv
“Bell v. Wolfish, 441 U.S. 520 (1979)” (n.d.). Justia. https://supreme.justia.com/cases/federal/us/441/520/
“Eighth Amendment” (n.d.). Legal Information Institute. https://www.law.cornell.edu/constitution/eighth_amendment
“Fifth Amendment” (n.d.). Legal Information Institute. https://www.law.cornell.edu/constitution/fifth_amendment
“First Amendment” (n.d.). Legal Information Institute. https://www.law.cornell.edu/constitution/first_amendment
“Fourth Amendment” (n.d.). Legal Information Institute. https://www.law.cornell.edu/constitution/fourth_amendment
“Hudson v. McMillian” (n.d.). Legal Information Institute. https://www.law.cornell.edu/supremecourt/text/503/1
“Hudson v. Palmer” (n.d.). Legal Information Institute. https://www.law.cornell.edu/supremecourt/text/468/517
“Jones v. North Carolina prisoners’ Labor Union, Inc., 433 U.S. 119 (1977)” (n.d.). Justia. https://supreme.justia.com/cases/federal/us/433/119/