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What Are My Rights While Incarcerated?

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Regardless of where inmates are housed or what types of crimes they may have committed, people who are incarcerated are entitled to basic protections under the United States Constitution. If you are incarcerated in Washington state, you have the right to safety, humane conditions, and medical care, among other protections.

If a facility or prison official violates your rights while incarcerated, you deserve justice. It is important to remain aware of these protections and to speak with a criminal defense attorney about your options.

The Right to Humane Facilities and Conditions

The Eighth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution states that prisoners are protected against cruel or unusual punishment. As such, prisons and jails have a duty to ensure that inmates are housed in humane facilities and conditions.

Any punishment or living condition that is considered inhumane or violates a prisoner’s dignity is a form of cruel or unusual punishment. Generally, facilities must be clean, safe, and provide the basic necessities for humans to live in, such as toilets and showers.

The Right to Medical Care and Attention

As an inmate, you have the right to receive medical care as you need it, for both short-term and long-term conditions. The prison or jail staff must ensure that this care is adequate to treat your illness or injury.

The Right to Be Free from Assault or Excessive Force

According to the Eighth Amendment, staff at prisons and jails have a duty to protect prisoners from instances of assault or violence. Officers must also refrain from using excessive force or using force in a malicious or harmful manner; force may only be used to maintain order.

The Right to Be Free from Racial Segregation

Racial segregation is prohibited in prisons except when necessary for the security of the facility. The staff at the prison or jail cannot divide different racial groups or treat one group worse than others.

The Right to Be Free from Sexual Crimes

According to the Prison Rape Elimination Act, you have the right to be free from any type of sexual crime, including sexual harassment, sexual assault, and other forms of misconduct.

The Right to Protections Under the Americans with Disabilities Act

If you have a disability, you have the right to assert your protections under the Americans with Disabilities Act while in prison or jail. You deserve the same access to prison programs and facilities, and the staff must make reasonable accommodations to ensure that you are able to participate.

The Right to Appropriate Mental Health Care

If you have mental health needs, you are entitled to receive appropriate treatment for your condition. Like your right to medical care, the staff at the prison or jail should ensure that your mental health treatment is adequate.

Speak to a Washington Criminal Defense Attorney

If you or a loved one is experiencing inhumane conditions while in prison or jail, you deserve justice. A Washington criminal defense attorney can help protect your rights and advocate for your fair treatment under the U.S. Constitution.

As soon as possible following the arrest or incarceration, contact a criminal defense lawyer to discuss your or your loved one’s case and discuss your next steps.

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