As an inmate or loved one of an incarcerated person, you expect to serve your sentence free of negligence and abuse. You still have your constitutional rights, even while imprisoned. Some of these rights are medical care, living in humane conditions, being free from racial discrimination, expressing complaints about your living conditions and having access to mental health care.
If someone at the prison violated or denied any of your constitutional rights or if you suffered any personal injury while incarcerated, you might have legal recourse.
Common examples of prison injury and abuse
Jail officials or prison guards might violate inmates’ rights through psychological abuse, unlawful strip searches, failure to treat a medical condition or provide medication, participating in assault or neglect, medical malpractice and even failure of staff to provide suicide watch.
Assault and neglect can appear in a myriad of ways. Document everything that happened for your records and keep copies of any reports you file.
What to do if you experience prison abuse
If you think prison personnel or a fellow inmate violated your rights, you should file a grievance as soon as possible through the appropriate channel at your facility. If you think you are in immediate danger, speak to somebody you trust like a teacher or mental health worker. For instances of disability discrimination, you can speak to an Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) coordinator at the prison.
You or your incarcerated loved one do not need to lose civil rights while locked up and working with professionals who can advocate for you when you cannot may alleviate overwhelming stress or hopelessness.