Criminal Defense Blog

Get a free consultation now

What Rights Do Prisoners Have in California?

Committing a felony or misdemeanor could result in imprisonment. Being a prisoner in California means that you give up some of your rights. However, just because you serve time in jail or prison doesn’t mean all your rights are taken from you. As humans, we have basic, fundamental rights that continue during incarceration, as well as certain legal rights.

Basic Rights of Individuals Incarcerated in California Jails and Prisons

One of our country’s fundamental principles is treating prisoners humanely. Jail and prison are not intended to be comfortable or pleasant, but they should afford prisoners humane conditions. For example, prisons should have clean, running water and working toilets. They should not be infested with insects or rodents.

In addition to being afforded humane conditions, prisoners have the right to freedom from cruel and unusual punishment. 

Prisoners in California have rights that include:

The Right to Medical Care and Mental Health Treatment

Prisoners might not receive the best state-of-the-art healthcare as they would if they were private citizens seeking healthcare. 

However, the Corrections and Rehabilitation Department has a duty to provide access to healthcare that prevents cruel and unusual punishment for an inmate. Prisoners should also have access to mental health treatment as necessary.

Freedom to Practice Their Faith or Religion

Prisoners should be afforded the right to practice their beliefs and religion. They can receive reasonable accommodations. However, the accommodations must not interfere with the operation of the prison or place other prisoners, guards, or staff at risk of harm.

Freedom from Mental, Physical, and Sexual Abuse

Prisoners have the freedom from being mistreated or subjected to excessive force while in jail. They have the right to be free from physical and mental abuse. The Prison Rape Elimination Act sets a zero-tolerance policy for rape in prisons throughout the United States.

The Right to Due Process

A prisoner does not lose their right to due process in jail. If an inmate is subjected to disciplinary actions while in prison, they have the right to be notified of the charges, have legal counsel, present evidence, and call witnesses on their behalf.

The Rights of Prisoners with Disabilities

Prisoners with disabilities have the same rights as other individuals protected by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). For example, deaf prisoners should have access to interpreters for hearings, education programs, medical appointments, etc.

They should also have access to services, programs, and facilities afforded to other prisoners. Reasonable accommodations should be afforded unless they cause an undue administrative, financial, or safety issue.

Freedom From Discrimination

Prisoners should not be subjected to discrimination or sexual harassment, including discrimination based on their age, sex, gender identification, color, religion, or gender. Discrimination can take many forms, including being denied rights based on a protected class.

Prisoners May Have Rights Curtailed and Are Not Automatically Entitled to Privileges

The prison system can curtail some personal rights if they impact the safety and security of the facility. For example, prisoners do not have a right to privacy. The prison can search cells, belongings, and the prisoners for weapons, contraband, and drugs.

Privileges are not rights. Rights are guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution, a state’s constitution, or statutes. Privileges are things the prison may allow for good behavior, such as entertainment and social interaction. Therefore, prisons can deny privileges for poor behavior.

What Should a Prisoner Do if Their Rights Are Violated in a California Jail?

Unfortunately, some individuals are subjected to horrible conditions in prison. They are victims of police misconduct and cruel and unusual punishment. They are not afforded their basic rights that allow for health and safety while incarcerated.

A prisoner whose rights are violated by a prison facility should contact a lawyer. If your loved one is being subjected to cruel and unusual punishment or the prison is not affording them their rights, call a civil rights attorney.

Prisoners and their family members can also write to the court and file documents with the court, but hiring an attorney is often the best course of action. An experienced civil rights lawyer understands the law and how to navigate the system to protect a person’s rights while they are in jail or prison.

Contact a San Jose California Lawyer for Help

For more information please contact our california law firm of Ahmed & Sukaram, DUI and Criminal Defense Attorneys at the nearest location for a free consultation.

Ahmed & Sukaram, DUI and Criminal Defense Attorneys – San Jose Office
1625 The Alameda, Suite 405, San Jose, CA 95126
(408) 217-8818

Ahmed & Sukaram, DUI and Criminal Defense Attorneys – Redwood City Office
600 Allerton St Suite 201G, Redwood City, CA 94063
(650) 299-0500

Recent Posts

What Are the Safest and Most Dangerous Areas in Northern California?

What Happens if You Get an Out of State Warrant for Your Arrest?

How Often Do DUI Cases Go to Trial in California?

Call Now Button