Inmates Rights and Special Circumstances Research Paper


Convicted fellows must always try to understand their options, and find ways to make things easier as they stay in the correctional facilities. This is why the inmates need to feel like they have been given fair trials and convictions. This paper features a discussion of some of the issues affecting the lives of inmates, such as applying for appeals and the issuance of a habeas corpus, the rights of special needs inmates, and also the use of supermax housing.

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Legal Mechanisms In Which An Inmate Can Challenge His Or Her Confinement

inmates rights
Inmates Rights And Special Circumstances

There are two ways for an inmate to challenge his or her confinement. The first option involves an appeal, and the next one involves filing a habeas corpus petition. Commonly, the appeal usually precedes the habeas corpus petition (Gershowitz, (2014). After conviction, the inmate may appeal by asking a higher court to examine the decision made by the higher court. This is supposed to help determine whether a proper procedure for giving the sentence was followed. Basically, the aim of this appeal is to prove an error on the part of the trial court that led to the inmate not being given fair trial. All criminal defendants, according to the United States Constitution  are entitled to receive due process (Gershowitz, (2014). This means that the defendant must be subjected to fair trial. Although appeals are quite common, the supreme court has never considered it as constitutionally required. However, when it is granted, the higher court may either affirm or reverse the decision made by the lower court. In case of a reversal, the higher court may require the trial court to repeat the process while taking into consideration its feedback.

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Habeas corpus is similar to the appellate process in that it also offers the inmate a chance to challenge the conviction decisions offered. However, the difference is that this mode features an indirect method of challenging a legal decision made by the court to convict the inmate . It is also considered a constitutional right, as is stated in Article I, Section 9, Clause 2 of the U.S constitution (Gershowitz, (2014). Only the incarcerated individuals can seek a writ of habeas corpus. This individual can contact the federal court, most commonly the district court, to ask for the issuance of a writ of habeas corpus. If this is issued, the petitioner will appear before the court to have his or her confinement reviewed appropriately. According to the constitution, the right to petition is the only factor that is guaranteed, the court still has the power to decide whether a hearing should be granted (Gershowitz, (2014).

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The writ also has an outstanding difference from an appeal because of its purpose. Although the appeal is supposed to challenge a lower court’s decision, the habeas corpus is designed to challenge the constitutionality of an inmate’s confinement. Therefore, the latter can only be an option when an individual has been convicted and sentenced to a term of confinement.

The cost of such challenges to the state and federal government should be abolished. This is because, the constitution requires that every accused individual is offered with fair trial. Unfortunately, by offering costs the fairness is limited to the people who can afford the payments. Therefore, when a person files for an appeal, it should be granted without any forms of payment to ensure fair trial for all people who feel like their conviction was not done in an error free manner.

Management Issues that Arise as a Result of Inmates with Special Needs

The management issues arising due to inmates with special needs include: One, inconsistent definitions for disabilities as is used by staff (Ahalt et al., 2013). When different people in the management team view disability from different angles, it is difficult to come up with a united result on how they should be treated. For example, what factors make an individual to qualify as disabled, or as a person of special needs? Does it have to be the lack of limbs, deaf and dumb or any factor making it difficult for the individual to carry on with the daily activity effectively? Some members of staff think disability is only the visible part, such as being blind or crippled. This is a wrong approach, as a person suffering from minor developmental problems may end up in the correctional facility. This person will also need special care for him to survive.

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Two, the absence of disability related information on the systems such as Offender Management System (OMS) (Ahalt et al., 2013). When the information of special needs inmates is absent, it makes it difficult to access the condition of the facility.  The management will not be aware of any equipment shortage, or when a person with special needs is feeling left out and unable to cope due to absence of support.

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Three, lack of adequate disability records as they have no specific location. When new staff are hired, it will be difficult for them to know how these individuals were being treated, how many there are, and who specifically need the special care (Ahalt et al., 2013). This is because there are no records kept in the correctional system.

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Four, little or no distinct program codes meant to reflect the specialized programs put in place to address the needs of the special needs inmates. Without any distinct program codes, the members of staff will not have any guidance to follow on how to treat the special needs inmates. As a result, they are neglected, with their basic rights being ignored simply because there is no guidance offered through a unique program, specifically designed for them (Ahalt et al., 2013).

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            For all the above management issues, there are certain changes that can be made to ensure special needs inmates are not neglected and mistreated in the correctional facilities. For the first management issue, it would make a big difference if the leaders of the correctional facilities took necessary steps to provide a written description of what qualifies as disability. This is important as it will ensure that the staff do not end up using their own feelings, or imaginations of what they think describes a special needs person. Therefore, all characteristics of any special needs individual should be written down, and the leaflet kept in record for reference. The second issue can be addressed by ensuring that whenever a special needs individual is taken into a correctional facility, the characteristics are taken into account and recorded as required. The facility should ensure that it knows the number of special needs individuals who are present, and they unique disabilities. Third, the facility must have a specific place within its system whereby these records should be kept. It is important as it ensures an ease of access and reference when required. Keeping records in unspecified areas of the system makes it difficult to analyze and retrieve any information required. Therefore, it is important to have a specific folder where the type of disability, the name of the special needs inmate, and the number of such individuals present in the facility are recorded. Lastly, the facilities need to establish a program code that will specify how exactly such individuals are supposed to be treated in the correctional facility. These codes should offer guidance on a variety of special needs cases to ensure that all inmates are covered and protected.

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Supermax Housing

Supermax housing refers to the units set aside for individuals who are difficult to control in traditional segregation, thus they are set aside from having any contact with staff or other inmates (Schmitt & Galloway, 2013). However, what is supermax, in one jurisdiction may not qualify in another. This is because of the varying definitions given to the name “supermax housing”. Some jurisdiction view this as an extension of their traditional segregation, hence it may house either the protective custody or administrative disciplinary segregation inmates.

The Eighth Amendment to the United States Constitution  offers protection for inmates on many accounts, including the cruel and unusual punishments. Being secluded for good reasons does not count as cruel and unusual punishment, as the management will only be trying to maintain peace and protect the health and lives of others within the facility. Basically, for an individual to be taken to the supermax housing, he must have done something that led to him or her being considered a threat (Schmitt & Galloway, 2013). For example, threatening or injuring another prisoner or staff, found in possession of dangerous weapons, disrupted the orderly operations within the facility, or attempted escape in a manner that injured or threatened the life of others. Therefore, the action of using supermax housing only serves to protect the life and wellbeing of others, and not as a cruel and unusual method of punishment.


Understanding what is the right of inmates is important as it ensures they are not mistreated once convicted. All accused individuals need to be educated about some of the things to expect, and what they can do about them. This paper has covered the use of appeals and habeas corpus to challenge decisions made by trial courts, what to expect when the inmate is a special needs individual, and also what to think about the supermax housing.

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