Critical Thinking Sample Paper on Rights of Prisoners

Human rights cannot be misplaced just because an individual has been incarcerated, as they are unconditional. The Eighth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution outlaws harsh and unusual forms of punishment which implies that convicted criminals have the rights to be protected from physical and mental harm. However, many jails and prisons have struggled to balance their responsibilities and what the constitution indicates concerning the rights of prisoners. While the use of force by an individual on another is considered a violation of law, the same law allows force to be applied in cases where all non-force options have failed.

The U.S. constitution enables prisoners to exercise their human rights through the Eighth Amendment. Prisoners have a right to be protected from sexual harassment, which includes being raped or assaulted while in custody. Inmates should be allowed to complain about prison conditions, as well as access to courts if they want access to the judge. On the other hand, corrections officers must ensure that the prison facilities are safe and secure to facilitate the rehabilitation of inmates (Finney, et al., 2013). Prisoners have the right to medical care, as well as mental health treatment, which should be sufficient for a person who is incarcerated.

Correction facilities play a critical role in ensuring the safety of the prisoners. Jails and prisons isolate offenders from society in order to maintain stability and cohesion, as prisoners are a threat to peaceful coexistence in society. Prisons are involved in the punishment of offenders by inflicting them with some suffering for violating social and legal norms. According to Palmer (2014), there are some situations where prison officials are justified in using “reasonable” force to control the prisoners. Society must be satisfied that punishing the law-breakers would discourage them from committing crimes, in addition to preventing them from recidivism.

Prisons are not law firms; neither are they legal aid bureaus. Thus, most of the rights accorded to prisoners are based on judicial rulings, rather than federal or state regulations. This implies that prison administrators are permitted to implement regulations that they sit fit under different circumstances. Thus, prisons regulate visits by setting rules that conform to the due process clause. Prisoners are usually graded based on their dangerous propensities, where the most dangerous inmates are either placed in grade V or VI (Palmer, 2014). Such prisoners are not allowed to receive visitors, unless in rare cases. Prisoners should also be allowed access to courts in case they require any assistance concerning their cases.

Correction officers have a duty to maintain security in prisons, in addition to ensuring that both prisoners and staff are safe and healthy. Prison employees usually work together with prisoners, thus, correction officers have to ensure that the staff members are protected from violent prisoners (Libolt, 2012). Correction officers’ role is to ensure that order has been maintained in the detention facilities. Maintaining order incorporates enforcing the rules and regulations that guide inmates within the prison environment.

Prisoners must be accorded their rights, as human rights should be offered to all humans, whether free or in custody. Prisons are considered as inherently dangerous, thus, regulations and decisions concerning discipline, safety, and order, should be at the pleasure of the prison administrators. Prison administrators must ensure that prisoners are safe and healthy, do not experience unusual punishment, and are permitted to meet visitors under certain regulations. Corrections officers must guarantee prisoners’ safety and security inside the prisons while assisting inmates to become law-abiding citizens.


Finney, C., Stergiopoulos, E., Hensel, J., Bonato, S., & Dewa, C. S. (2013). Organizational stressors associated with job stress and burnout in correctional officers: a systematic review. BMC Public Health, 13(1), 82.

Libolt, A. L. (2012). A deputy warden’s reflections on prison work. Eugene, Or: Resource Publications.

Palmer, J. W. (2014). Constitutional rights of prisoners. New York, NY: Routlege