Timothy O. McCalep

Is your loved one facing inhumane conditions in prison?

Many people don't think twice about the conditions that prisoners in local, state and federal facilities face. That is until they are faced with the reality themselves or know someone who is in one of these facilities.

There seems to be a school of thought that prisoners should be treated in whatever way the jailers dole out. This isn't the case because prisoners are humans and their rights still apply. While prisoners shouldn't expect accommodations equivalent to a four-star hotel, they also shouldn't be in a place with conditions that rival a third-world country.

Examples of inhumane conditions

The inhumane conditions that prisoners face can include: 

  • not being given access to vital medical care
  • being forced into overcrowded conditions.

Prisoners have reported having to sleep in gymnasiums that were outfitted with double and triple bunks, which often caused the population of the building to be more than what was allowable, to not being given vital treatments for diagnosed conditions, such as chemotherapy for cancer.

Prison systems have claimed that many, if not all, of the issues that they are facing are due to the overcrowding of the prison system. Advocates for prisoners' rights note that overcrowding is a problem but that the criminal justice system should still be held responsible for the conditions that it is sending prisoners to live in when they are incarcerated.

Damage these conditions can do

The Eighth Amendment to the United States Constitution forbids cruel and unusual punishment. People tend to forget that just because someone was convicted of a crime doesn't mean that he or she should be subjected to torturous conditions. The individual still deserves to be safe and to have necessities met.

When prisons are too crowded, things might turn violent. A prisoner in an overcrowded prison in California was beaten to death and none of the guards noticed for hours. This took place in a gym that was converted into a dormitory.

Another issue is that patients aren't getting the medical or mental health care they need. This can lead to a worsening of conditions or even death. Some suicides in prisons could be attributed to the lack of mental health care. While this is a severe problem for people who had mental health issues when they started their sentence, it could also be a problem for people who aren't able to adjust to the conditions of the prison.

Rectifying the system takes an effort

Getting the prison system reformed will take time and effort. But, until then, prisoners aren't the only ones who can help to protect their interests. If you know a prisoner who is experiencing a violation of their civil rights, it is okay to speak up and say something.

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