If you face or are currently serving a prison sentence and have a disability, you have federally protected rights under the Americans With Disabilities Act. If you experience discrimination because of your disability, you can seek legal recourse.
Review the disability rights of prisoners and actions to take if discrimination occurs.
Understanding your rights
The prison must provide effective communication methods such as audio, Braille, videophone, closed captioning and interpretation services. You must receive reasonable modifications to procedures and policies because of your disability if these accommodations do not put others in danger. You must receive an equal opportunity to participate in programs and receiving housing at the appropriate level of security.
You may be a victim of disability discrimination if:
- You are in solitary confinement or in a segregated cell.
- You do not have access to a cane, wheelchair or other necessary medical devices.
- You are hard of hearing and the prison does not provide an interpreter for education programs, health care and legal appointments.
- You do not have access to services, programs or facilities available to other prisoners.
If these situations sound familiar, your first step is a formal grievance through the prison. You should also contact the facility’s ADA coordinator of available.
When the grievance process does not effectively address the discrimination, you can file a lawsuit in federal court. You must show that you have a disability and the facility prevented you from participating or accessing something for which you qualified because of your disability. If the discrimination constitutes cruel and unusual punishment, you may be eligible for Eighth Amendment relief.