4 Things You Never Knew About Inmate Rights

Wisconsin Criminal Law Blog

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If you do end up having to serve a jail or prison sentence, don’t forget that you have rights – and if corrections officers, other inmates or anyone else violates them, you’ll need to get in touch with your criminal defense attorney to see what he or she can do to protect you.

4 Rights that Wisconsin Inmates Must Have

In addition to basic human rights, there are four rights that the public doesn’t generally talk about, including:
1.The right to sue due to the unconstitutionality of a meal. That's exactly what a Milwaukee County Jail inmate did in 2010. Inmate Terrance Prude sued the prison because the "nutriloaf" the jail’s staff served him made him violently ill. Prude was sick for several days and dropped from 168 pounds to 154 pounds as a result. 

Nutriloaf is a meal served to prisoners as punishment for “bad behavior.” It’s notorious for its foul taste and tendency to sicken those who eat it. Prude's lawsuit claimed that the meal was a violation of the 8th Amendment prohibition on cruel and unusual punishment. When an appeals court inquired about the recipe for nutriloaf, the jail would not reveal its ingredients.

2.The right to funding for hormone therapy and sexual reassignment surgery. Wisconsin law once blocked prisoners suffering from Gender Identity Disorder (GID) from receiving state and local funding for hormone therapy and sexual reassignment surgery. According to the Harvard Law Review, the state's Inmate Sex Change Prevention Act blocked funding and resources to treat those conditions in prison inmates. The act was ultimately ruled unconstitutional, and now inmates are entitled to the proper treatment.

3.The right to a limit on days spent in solitary confinement. There is a limit to the number of days that an inmate in a Wisconsin state prison can spend in solitary confinement. Unfortunately, that limit is surprisingly high – it’s 360 days – but the limit is still in place to protect inmates. 

4.The right to give birth free from handcuffs and shackles. It wasn't until 2006 that the Wisconsin Department of Corrections ended the practice of using handcuffs and shackles on pregnant inmates during labor, delivery and recovery.

It’s important to know that your attorney is there to protect your rights, even if you are incarcerated. Stepping inside a jail or a prison doesn’t mean you lose everything; you are guaranteed human rights by the Constitution, regardless of whether a judge has convicted you of breaking Wisconsin or federal law.

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4 Things You Never Knew about Inmate Rights - Wisconsin Criminal Defense Lawyer
Attorney Carlos Gamino

Although prison inmates forfeit many rights, that doesn’t mean that they’re not entitled to the most basic of those. While your Milwaukee criminal defense lawyer will build a strong strategy and get you the best possible outcome for your case, sometimes incarceration is unavoidable. 
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