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Jails - Legal Rights Of Jail Inmates

court detainees pretrial punishment

Until the late 1960s, state and federal courts refused litigation by jail and prison inmates against their keepers, preferring a "hands off " doctrine grounded in the constitutional separation of powers between the judicial and executive branches of government. This situation changed during the early 1970s owing to the expansion of defendants' pretrial rights and of judicial review of administrative agency activities. Federal writs of habeas corpus, litigation under the Civil Rights Act of April 20, 1871, 42 U.S.C. section 1983 (1976 & Supp. III 1979), and class action suits have brought relief in the form of release, injunctions, damages, and declaratory judgments for violations of inmates' constitutional rights.

Pretrial detainees are entitled to the presumption of innocence; hence, any imposition of punishment on them constitutes a denial of due process. In Brenneman v. Madigan, 343 F. Supp. 128 (N.D. Cal. 1972), the court stated that convicted offenders are denied their liberty in the interest of satisfying such objectives of the criminal law as punishment, restraint, or rehabilitation. Consequently, they have fewer rights than detainees and can be subjected to a range of restrictions and correctional programs. By contrast, pretrial detainees have not been convicted of any crime and therefore should not be treated in the same manner. Since Brenneman, a number of courts of appeals adopted the "least restrictive alternative test" for detention, holding that jailers must use the least restrictive means when depriving detainees of their liberty pending trial ( Jonesv. Wittenberg, 323 F. Supp. 93 (N.D. Ohio 1971); Moore v. Janing, No. C-72-0-223 (D. Neb. 1976)).

In 1979, the U.S. Supreme Court overruled this test in Bell v. Wolfish, 441 U.S. 520 (1979), holding that restrictions on pretrial detainees violate the Constitution only if they affect an independent constitutional right or if they amount to the imposition of punishment. Although confirming that the due process clause prohibits officials from punishing persons awaiting trial, the Court noted that not every condition of confinement amounts to punishment. Thus, it upheld as reasonably related to the effective management of a detention facility such practices as housing two persons in cells designed for one. The Court also held that neither blanket prohibitions on contact visits for pretrial detainees, nor routine body cavity searches of inmates after contact visits, nor random "shakedown" searches violated the constitutional right to due process. However, since most correctional standards recommend single-cell occupancy (with the exception of housing for work release or similar minimum-security programs), contact visits (when appropriate), and protections against unreasonable searches, the Bell decision is clearly a backward step for corrections.

Since Bell, the determination of whether a particular restriction imposed on pretrial detainees violates due process requires courts to decide whether that restriction is for the purpose of punishment or whether it is reasonably related to a legitimate and nonpunitive governmental purpose (Robbins, 2000). In spite of this legal setback, Bell does not affect the rights of convicted prisoners, nor does it affect cases in which any or all aspects of incarceration are challenged in particular facilities. In general, Eighth Amendment prohibitions continue to set a minimum below which jail conditions may not fall. Recent data on jail litigation provide strong evidence of continuing court involvement with jail conditions. Of 112 reporting jail systems, sixteen percent indicated that one or more of jail facilities they were operating were under a court order in 1998. An additional 20 percent noted they were under court-mandated population caps, and 6 percent had facilities under the supervision of a court monitor or master (Criminal Justice Institute, 1998). Finally, definitions of what is considered cruel and unusual punishment will continue to change because of what a previous Supreme Court has called "the evolving standards of decency that mark the progress of a maturing society" (Trop v. Dulles, 356 U.S. 86 (1958)).

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almost 4 years ago

How long can a person who has been arrested be denied access to call an attorney or call out at all?

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over 5 years ago

My husband is in jail for something he didn't do, and jumping bail when he was not notified of a court date. He was not read his rights when arrested and is being given only milk to drink when he is allergic to dairy products. He is being denied access to the law library and access to info regarding his case. I need help!!!

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6 months ago

Does the 6th amendment apply in inmate disciplinary hearings and is the burden of proof beyond a reasonable doubt

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about 3 years ago

The St.Joseph, Michigan county jail has disallowed pretrial detainees from receiving letters from anyone, family included, it has also prevented detainees from communicating with co defendants.

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about 3 years ago

Glad to stumble onto this page & that it was cited. Pre-trial conditions are a way of life for misdemeanor offenders and it includes many conditions that most certainly do amount to punishment and pre-trial, whether being held in a cell or having to call in and do this, that, and six other stupid things, is a violation of due process because that person was NOT found guilty: they have been accused. And you sir, the commenter down below me, Mr. Robert Lawman, have had a boring life of few significant experiences or you would be incapable of adding such an idiotic post.

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over 3 years ago

What a bunch of crybabies here, as a good citizen I hope they bring back torture and hanging for child molesters and murders.

When you break the law, you have the right to suffer in jail, while your victims suffer. If it were up to me your as* would suffer like the scum you are

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almost 4 years ago

I LOVE UR MOM DUDE

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about 4 years ago

I'm currently the only access to certain law material for the jackson county minnesota inmates I dont even know what I'm doing or were to find most this stuff can someone please tell me how to better help them web sites I can go to something

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about 4 years ago

Most inmate populations have a code of silence they don't speek of there hard ships threw the propper chanelles. It's looked at as snitching. This hard headed aproach makes it easy for the neglect to continue, and even where people do want to speak out there isn't many outlets. ACLU usualy stays to bizzy, and for proffit lawyers ignore most cases because of proffit liitations placed on prison cases. Pluss with past criminal conduct ( inmate wittnesss') credibility becomes an isue, not to mention the powre of th Corectional Officers to look out for there own. I was assaulted while fully restrained on a brand new prison transport buss for dropping oarnge peels on the ground, but the hard drive on the buss wasn't installed so no evidence was available. I still have spots in my vision today from it but nothing I can do. what needs done to help resolve this is first public relations. The community needs to know that not even close to the majority of the population fit the stereo type afixed on them. Most are young scared everyday kids. I met a man in jail for stealing wood for a bon fire (just one example of many ). Yet most picture tattood scared and huge inmates that arent even human anymore. For public safety we can keep them behind bars but for future security ( after there release ) we need to keep inmates in touch with society and the comunity. We have to create a way for them to communicate. when I was in prison a 20 minute call cost me $18 and making $30 a month that gave e contact for 20 minutes a month. You lose contact with almost all support. Nobody has time to write a letter and find an envelope and a stamp and put it in the mail. like any revolution/evelution. You most have a voice. we most give them a voice

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over 4 years ago

to all whom have posted on here these are all horrilble stories to the women whoms husband is being accused of rape and finding glass in his food you most definetly need to call leagal aid in your area inmates do have rights I am a criminal justice major and if what you are saying is true you need to seek leagal action ASAP these are act of violations in the US constitution and there are hundreds of lawyers who would jump all over this case and plenty who are probono meaning they will not charge you a fee at all, start digging make complaints to the warden of the jail document phone calls and get help for him I read about things like this happening while I was studying but never thought I would actully find a case like it I am overwhelmed with what you need to be doing there is lots you can do if you have a hhs worker you should seek some free numbers to call and make a police report of the incidents happening

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over 4 years ago

well as i was saying we have all these problems and want a quick fix from law inforcement .Impossible let"s jump in help and get some bills passed. community help is needed.The few law officers in any field need the communities help.imagine there case loads.without the people yo help we will go nowhere think about it!

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over 4 years ago

I think if people would stop complaing and let"s get together within our society some things could change some of the neglect in the law. Let"s remember the law inforcemnt is small cmpared to all of us depending on them to do the right things all of the time.remember they are human too.We all make mistakes some things done ententional some are noy .Let"s help get bills passed and stop depending on a hand full of us to carry a load impossible without public help.







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almost 5 years ago

My boyfriend was arrested in NYC 2006 for possession of stolen good he was placed on probation for 5 years & told to pay restitution which he was but then lost his job all this took place in NYC. In March of 2009 he was arrested in Bergen county with marijuana which I won't even lie he was gonna smoke with his friend the marijuana was in the car which my boyfriend was not in but anyways he was arrested & his court appointed lawyer adviced him to plead guilty which he did he was told he would receive more probation time (which still has not been giving to him) & as part of his sentence he enrolled in a drug rehab program I helped him to get a job & all was going well his probation officer informed him she would have o violate his probation cuz of that bergen county case 2 weeks ago he received a letter to appear in court on 2/17/10 his P.O adviced him against bringing an attorney & failed to inform his legal aid, when he appeared in court the judge said "violation of probation & no attorney, you will be held" now my 3 month old daughter is left without a father, my boyfriend loses his job & I am left confused & helpless cuz the people I do try to talk to about this issue don't want to hear I have never been thru this process & don't know where to begin to help I contact his legal aid & was told "oh no one called me, it's impossible that the judge would say that cuz if he has no attorney they appoint to him but it was never done. he also said that he was gonna be held anyway cuz it was probation violation so why make him waste his time gettin a job & enrolling in a program if the whole time he was gonna go to jail, I feel frustrated & I know even though he made this mistake & violated his probation he was on the right track & yet no one cares!

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almost 5 years ago

A good friend of mine was taken to jail in Clark County, WA for some robberies that happened here. Long story short. A young Mexican male in his early 20's robbed 4 stores but did a total of 5 robberies. The picture is on the news and in the paper and it could be any young mexican male. The pictures are blurry. My friend was at home and someone knocks at the door. It is the police. They tell him he is under arrest. Not telling him why though and they slam his head into the wall in front of his small daughter when he wasn't resisting. He was cooperating. They take him down for questioning and get a search warrant. Tell him why he is there. For all the robberies. Did a search and do not find what they are looking for. But take a few things anyway. Book him in jail and set his bail at 100,000 dollars. He has a long record from when he was a minor but now is 22 and has been clean for a few years. I can tell, and so could you tell, that the person in the pix is not him. The police take his mug shot to the stores that were robbed and only 2 out of 5 robberies said it was him. Now, if he robbed all the stores they should all be able to point him out. But only 2 did so that is all they can charge him with. Now, he was at my house every single night when the robberies occured and some nights I even have pictures of him here. They are not at the exact time of the robberies though but close. Also one night he went and rented a movie right before a robbery and the police say it doesn't matter because it wasn't at the same time. I have met with the detective and his court appointed attorney (who isnt doing a very good job at all) and have given them written and sworn statements and pictures from him. Basicly they are telling me that since I am a friend I am not much help. What can we do. We need to hire a scetch artist to prove the pix are not him but what are his chances of getting off and what else can we do to help him. Thank you for any help you may have!!

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almost 5 years ago

My husband Carlton Russell Is being held in White County Detention Center. There is alot to my story, so Ill try to make it as brief as possible. He was detained and put on a parole hold by his parole officer becuase of a change of residence and not notifying his parole officer of change of residence. The only thing is he never moved anywhere and his P.O knew that. Anyway since he has been incarcerated he has been mistreated. He has had his life threatened by deputys. He has been jumped on by deputys. He has went to the ER becuase of dehydration. I have been callin up there to let them know about these things and nothing has been done about it. It only seems to make things worse for him when I try to help. Deputys have tried to beat him up ,break his fingers and hands he has found glass in his food. Ive tried to send him a 1983 form but they did not give it to him and ever since i have sent that form he hasnt recieved any of the letters i have written him. As i said before there is alot to this story. I cant tell it all,but if there is anyone out there that reads this and can help, please contact me by email tehya501@yahoo.com. I need help and we need a lawyer but cant afford one.I miss my husband and our kids need their father home. I have wriiten everything down that has hapeened with dates He has witnesses in the jail and camera footage. I need help quickly before they try to get rid of the evidence. The police have already said "they can do what they want and they dont care who he tells." They put a rape charge on him a month in a half after he had already been locked up. He made some wrong choices and slept with this white woman and now she is saying he raped her. I know that is not true she was calling my husband and telling him about her and her boyfriends problems before all this happened. She gotmad at him and now is saying he raped her.The detectives told me that her story didnt line up and they came and searched our house and I wasnt even there noone was. They told me they didnt find what they were looking for. They charged him with it anyway.

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over 5 years ago

zanmarie fludd,

I would need to know a little more to be able to help you with information in trying to free your son. From what you have described I have a few items that might help (contact legal aid in your area on these issues)

1. Did the officers chase the other person when he drove off in the car, leaving your son behind? If so what did they say were the grounds for them coming back to arrest him?

2. When searched and it was found he had no weapon or stolen merchandise, what reason did they give for his arrest.

3. Most Important - were his Miranda Rights properly read to him, and did he understand them?

4. An appeal could be made on the grounds of not being provided proper legal counsel for his trial, if it is true he was given a real estate lawyer instead of a criminal lawyer. (Can the real estate lawyer also practice criminal law, but just prefers real estate?)

Hope these things help. There are plenty of websites out there to help you with legal questions and procedures.

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over 5 years ago

My son is now 21 years old and he was arrested on March 15, 2008 and in still in jail as of April 10, 2009. He was arrested for two counts off arm robbery with a weapon and have a total of 5 charging because they say that he had a gun. When all this support to have happen back when he was 20 yrs. old. Now my understanding off all this is that the witness did not described him at the scene, the police did not find anything on him nor him at the scene. The evening of the 15th when the robbery support to have happen, my son was at the gas station on hwy 17 and main road coming out of the gas station headed to the gas pump were his friend call Ballin was pumping gas. Several police officers with the blue lights on pulled up to the pumps and Ballin jumped in the car leaving my son standing there. Now my son who is a Emotional Handicap (EH) student with a lot of issues tried to get in the back door of the car which was locked. Mr. Ballin led the police on a high speed chase and catch him some where on Brownswood Road on John's Isl. While my son was in jail, the Dorchester County jail said that they wanted him as well for the same type of robbery. There camera have as i was told two black male with black hookie on with a bandaner covering they faces tall around the ages of 18 and 20 years old any. Now how many black males that you know off fits this description because by that description i am still seeing my son on the street which i know he in jail. He was recently offered a 10 - 20 years sentence. Please tell me if this was your son what would you do when you don't have the money to fight the system. This is not fair and i thought that we all were innocent until proven guity in a court of law. It's seem like the state have already found my son guilty without given him a trial. One last question, why would the court appoint a real estate attorney to represent my son on his crimmal charges? My sons name is Ernest Jerome Fludd 1088557 in Leeds Ave Detention Center. He have spent the last year and one months in jail now. Someone please help me to help my son because they is something really wrong with our system when we are holding young boys who may or maynot have made a mistake and who are our future generation in jail just making them very bitter about life. This all started a year and one month ago

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over 5 years ago

My brother is in jail as a sex offender, he got taught up with the wrong women and was wrongful accused and convicted, now he is being label in jail and someone attempted to murder him. I need some answer as to why the label them and how can i protect him.Please can someone give me answer before it's to late

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over 5 years ago

My brother is in jail with a sex offense charge against him,he is innocent but they labeled him in prison with a bracelet that identifies him as a sex offender, the day they put that bracelet on him they tried to murder him! i want to know why they do this,prisoners make mistake but labeling then is just a death sentence. what can be done? hopefully someone is listening and can help me change this labeling process

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over 5 years ago

My friend's son is in jail and he has diabetes. He has an insulin pump to control his diabetes; but they won't let him have it in prison and he is getting worse, health-wise, because of it.

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about 6 years ago

My 18 year old brother is mentally challenged and is in jail for something he didn't do and they wont listen to us... his name is Jashua Mollett, his bond is right now 50,000 dollars!

A black male- around 50 yrs old talked my brother into walking in woods gas station with him, and my brother didn't know what he was gunna do or didn't know any better- then the man robbed woods- but before that he used my sisters boyfriends phone to call a cab- why wouldnt they take finger prints to find this man... Why is it all on my brother- he had a pole threw his head when he was in foster care because they werent watching him on a trampoline- almost died- he will now have the IQ of a 10 year old for almost everything he does for the rest of his life:( I miss my brother and he is innocent and didn't have no part of that incident- and didn't know that he would get into this much trouble or he would of said no...

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about 6 years ago

I need help for my 20 yr old son who now has 30 stitches in his face from being assulted at a suffolk county jail