University of Phoenix
CJA204/Introduction to Criminal Justice
April 20, 2011
Inmates Rights Paper
Prisoner rights operate under the understanding that although a prisoner will be deprived of his or her freedom he or she will still be entitled to basic human rights, and these rights must not be infringed upon. Prisoner rights are an important set of checks and balances to help avoid illegal activity and regulate the actions of the corrections department in the criminal justice system. Even though these individuals have committed a crime, he or she is still a person and remains protected for certain basic rights guaranteed to him or her under the United States Constitution.
Awarding individual rights to violators of the law created concern for public order advocates. In 1974, the courts developed a principle known as a balance test. A balance test is, A principle, developed by the courts and applied to the corrections arena by Pell v. Procunier (1974), that [sic] attempts to weigh the rights of an individual, as guaranteed by the Constitution, against the authority of states to make laws or to otherwise restrict a person’s freedom in order to protect the state’s interests and its citizens. (Schmalleger, 2009, p. 521) With the balance test in mind, there are a few essential rights provided to persons in the United States by the Constitution. Four of the main amendments that protect prisoners are the First Amendment, the Fourth Amendment, the Eighth Amendment, and the Fourteenth Amendment. The First Amendment is an all inclusive right to the freedom of speech. This entitles prisoners to amenities such as mail, telephone calls, religion, and visitation rights. Although the communication is supervised and restricted to locations the right is still present even during ones incarceration. Privacy while incarcerated is one right that cannot be effectively provided to individuals. Using the balance test, courts have determined an...