The Rights of Inmates

In the beginning, courts granted minimum rights to inmates in the 1960’s, much less than current rights for inmates (Bartol & Bartol, 2012). Inmates should have the legal rights they are granted and deserve ethical treatment. Inmates have several rights, to receive mail, practice religion, treatment, and treatment refusal. Even though inmates have these rights, the court is able to step in and decide to what level the inmates are approved for. One example of having the right to treatment needs to be ethical.  Inmates do not typically receive the greatest healthcare or healthcare systems, and could potentially receive inadequate medical care which violates his or her eighth Amendment  right. The biggest question is what is the standard for determining the constitution had been violated? The inmates would have to prove that they are not receiving standard treatment and show a lack of carelessness in regards to the correctional officers (Bartol & Bartol, 2012). If an inmate is severely ill and not receiving medical treatment, this is unethical. Whether the inmate committed a cruel crime or not, he or she still has the right to proper medical attention.

Inmates also have the right to receive mail. This is of course censored. I think that it is extremely important for mail to be censored because more crimes could be committed on the outside and on the inside if their mail was not being censored. Some may feel that it is a violation of privacy, however the bottom line is safety.  Inmates have the right to receive mail as long as it does not affect security as a whole and cause other grievances. I think it would be unethical and cruel for them not to receive mail from family.  I do agree with the censorship to protect the greater good.

Inmates loose precious rights when incarcerated and convicted of a crime. Freedom being number one. By establishing particular rights to each inmate creates a better understanding for following a proper set of ethics. This way the prison operates without violating the prisoner’s rights.  Not only are the prison’s and the prison’s employees supposed to follow law, but the forensic psychologist must be educated in both state and federal guidelines. Forensic Psychologists that are currently in correctional settings are also guided by both the American Psychological Association’s ethical guidelines and the American Psychology-Law Society’s Specialty Guidelines for Forensic Psychologists (1991).




Bartol, A. M., & Bartol, C. R. (2012). Introduction to Forensic Psychology Research and Application (3rd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications Inc.

Specialty Guidelines for Forensic Psychologists. 1991. Committee on Ethical Guidelines for Forensic Psychologists. Law and Human Behavior Vol. 15, No. 6.


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