As those incarcerated in prison or jail in the U.S. are intimately aware, the rules are different behind bars. Prisoners are often treated poorly with many of their basic human rights being withheld. Families of inmates may not be as well-informed as their loved ones, but awareness is the first step towards reform. From prison rape to general bullying of prisoners, there are many issues plaguing those in the criminal justice system.
Increased Solitary Confinement
Over the past couple decades, solitary confinement has soared. Prisons are creating more and more facilities for solitary, with safety being the biggest stated reason. While some inmates are legitimately dangerous and in need of solitary confinement, no regulations have been put into place about what counts as dangerous, which has led to many harmless inmates being put into solitary unfairly.
Inmates from all over the United States have reported that many prison officials are abusing their powers, using solitary for those they don’t know how to handle or who cause too many annoyances.
Prisoners have cited incidents of being put into solitary for filing grievances or being mentally ill. It is argued that this overuse of solitary is detrimental to the mental and emotional well-being of inmates. Putting those with mental illness into solitary may only make that problem worse, which then becomes a major problem when the inmate is re-introduced to the outside world.
Censorship. Banned Books and Magazines for Inmates
There are two sides to the censorship issues with prisons and jails. Many facilities have bans or restrictions on media coverage, and the news coverage that makes its way through, but portrays the prison and its officials in a bad light is often fought against.
This limits outsider knowledge of the many human rights issues within the facilities. On the other side, many prisoners have extremely limited access to different types of media. Literature is carelessly regulated, with many facility bans being blown out of proportion and taking out innocent books for nebulous words or phrases. List of banned books.
In addition to literature, many inmates have limited or no internet access whatsoever, in their cell or otherwise. With prisons and jails having some of the lowest literacy rates, limited media exposure is argued by many as being counter-productive and detrimental to inmates.
Inadequate Prison Medical Health Care Service
Among calls for retrials and claims of innocence, one of the biggest complaints heard from prison inmates is that they receive inadequate medical care. Claims of delayed care or outright denials prevailed, with some complaints being taken to court as suits against the prison system.
This is hardly surprising when many prisons lack sufficient medical staffing, either due to negligence or a deficiency in funding.
Prisoners have complained of specific instances such as delayed x-rays and treatments for broken bones, oversights in medical results, and insufficient treatment for illnesses ranging from sore throats to cancer.