Almost seven years ago the Pennsylvania prison system was sued after allegations of officers physically abusing inmates surfaced at State Correctional Institution in Pittsburgh. Of the six officials charged in these incidents, all but one faced allegations of physically assaulting inmates. Guards and nurses among other prison staff are in complete control over the lives of people who are incarcerated. That power dynamic can often lead to the mistreatment of prisoners. It's often hard to see convicted criminals as victims in these situations.
Long-term prison homicide rate
America's correctional system houses 2.2 million people making it the fourth largest city in the nation. The brutality behind bars often goes unnoted. Unfortunately, the likelihood that someone will be investigated, charged and prosecuted for crimes committed in prison is very small.
Even the most hardened criminals have the right to be free from cruel and unusual punishment. The Eighth Amendment states that the following rights must be taken into consideration to prevent inhumane treatment:
- Humane facilities and conditions
- Freedom from being subjected to sexual crimes or harassment
- Freedom from racial segregation
- Expression of complaints about the conditions within the institution
- Use of Americans with Disabilities Act
- Medical and mental care as needed
- Entitlement to a hearing, if the prisoner is moving to a mental health facility
Often if inmates speak out against mistreatment, from guards or fellow prisoners, the result is the same, retaliation and threats. The debasement of inmates occurs across the country with troublesome frequency. Prisoners come out of lockup more damaged then when they went in.