New York City and state prisons have been the subject of significant accusations regarding civil rights violations. While they are serving time as a penalty for criminal actions, prisoners deserve human dignity and respect.
These are some of the key initiatives of the Prisoners’ Rights Project, a nonprofit advocate of humane prison conditions in New York and worldwide.
Access to medical care
Prisoners have the right to comprehensive mental and physical health care. New state laws passed in recent years ensure that incarcerated individuals who have HIV will receive the care they need to prevent progression to AIDS. In addition, the state has established limits on confinement and other punitive measures for patients who have mental illness. Prisoners should receive the medical services they need for both physical and mental conditions.
Women in prison are susceptible to sexual abuse by staff. Victims of physical or sexual abuse in prison have the right to hold their abusers accountable, including financial restitution through the state court system. The state has also moved to pass laws against the use of abusive restraints, including the practice of shackling pregnant women in labor.
Access to education
Minors in New York detention have the right to an education. In response to a lawsuit from PRP, Rikers Island opened a high school facility and the city improved the provision of secondary education to youth inmates.
Individuals who have suffered human rights violations in prison have the right to pursue justice. These violations include not only violence and abuse but also the deprivation of needs such as health care and education.