Prisoner's Rights By: Jack Crowley

In America, prisoners who commit crimes are not under the same laws as regular American people. In 1787 when the Constitution was signed, people were given laws that protected them from the government. These laws applied to all Americans no matter what gender, race, religion, or age you were. However, due to prisoners not having the same rights as freed Americans, this is unconstitutional. For example, “Inmates generally lose their right to privacy in prison… and retain basic First Amendment rights.” (hg.org). In other words, inmates do not have the Fourth and Fifth Amendment rights (protection from unreasonable searches and protection of property). All they get in return is limited speaking rights (another minor violation of the constitution). Even though many people stereotype prisoners as weapon-wielding maniacs who can easily escape prison with certain tools, it is written in the Constitution that authorities can not do this.

The first reason that prisoners should have the same rights as the average American citizen is because they should be able to vote in all states. In the United States, “Two states allow felons to vote from prison while other states may permanently ban felons from voting even after being released from prison, parole, or probation, and having paid all fines.” (procon.org). Also, “Thirty US states deny voting rights to convicts on probation. (scholarstrategynetwork.org). The argument that prisoners deserve equal rights must be true because felons do not have the right to vote from prison, trashing the idea of Civil Rights. Even after they are released from prison, many of their voting rights are taken for the rest of their lives. Voting is a very important American right and should be practiced and exercised for every American citizen. Very similar to racial segregation where the Fourteenth Amendment allowed African American citizens to vote. Once blacks were completely free from slavery, many years later, they were able to vote. “All persons born or naturalized in the United States and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”

However, even though these topics are very similar, they are also very different. The government gives prisoners poor treatment with dirty cells and food that would seems inedible. Also, medical care is very limited. “Often those with illnesses like AIDS or variations of cancer are given only the minimum treatment.” (hg.org). With this evidence, it is easy to prove that the government contributes little effort to the health of prisoners. As if they were like slaves, they are not helped and forced to live in a world where they have no say in what happens. Although blacks were treated very poorly, the government was not the problem, it was the people. People can not torture people in prison like whites tortured blacks. Blacks did have equal rights at times, however, this did not cause them to be treated equally. After blacks even served in the military to gain equal rights, they succeeded in the war but failed to gain rights. “About half of the rest were from the loyal border states, and the rest were free blacks from the North. Forty thousand black soldiers died in the war: 10,000 in battle and 30,000 from illness or infection.” (history.com) Clearly, after serving in the military for the United States, whites still harassed blacks.

To conclude, even though prisoners rights and blacks were very similar, they are still very different. A way that you can help is by peacefully protesting or telling/mailing your local congressperson. People don’t want to protest prisoners rights because if you aren’t in prison, it’s not your problem! Nobody wants to take time out of their day to march for something you don’t care about. But if everyone came together, we would easily be able to give prisoners rights.

History.com Staff. "Black Civil War Soldiers." History.com. A&E Television Networks, 2010. Web. 23 Mar. 2017.

"The Struggle to Restore Voting Rights for Former Prisoners - And a Telling Success in Rhode Island." The Struggle to Restore Voting Rights for Former Prisoners - And a Telling Success in Rhode Island | Scholars Strategy Network. N.p., 01 Mar. 2017. Web. 23 Mar. 2017.

"Prisoner's Rights." Hg.org. N.p., n.d. Web. 23 Mar. 2017.

"Do Inmates Have Rights? If So, What Are They?" Hg.org. N.p., n.d. Web. 23 Mar. 2017.

"Top 10 Pros and Cons - Felon Voting - ProCon.org." Should Felons Be Allowed to Vote?N.p., n.d. Web. 23 Mar. 2017.

Created By
Jack Crowley
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Created with images by Desertrose7 - "prison jail dark" • landrachuk - "vote sign voting" • Photographing Travis - "Cell" • capotian - "glory nuclear o'reilly unit 3"

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