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Filing a Lawsuit for Prison Abuse

Steve Wagner

News of prison abuse and violation of prisoner rights seems to have been all over the news this year. However, prisons are not places where a person is deprived of all rights and criminals still deserve the protection of the law and the preservation of their human rights, even while in custody. The law protects prison inmates from:

  • Physical assault, including torture
  • Sexual crimes, including rape, sodomy, abuse of female inmates by prison staff, and other forms of sexual harassment
  • Inadequate medical care, for both physical and mental health issues
  • Racial abuse or segregation
  • Unauthorized and intentional deprivation of their personal property by prison officials

Despite such safeguards of the law, prison abuse, where prisoners are deprived of their civil rights guaranteed by the constitution, are far too common.

It is important for prisoners to stand up for their rights when they face negligence in prison, or when prison officials deprive them of their rights. The very people entrusted with enforcing the law cannot be allowed to deprive the rights guaranteed by the constitution to citizens, regardless of whether these citizens are criminals or not.

However, filing a lawsuit against prison officials is tricky. The Prison Litigation Reform Act expressly gives courts the right to dismiss any prison lawsuit it deems as frivolous or malicious. Worse, prisoners also stand the risk of losing credit for good time if the judge deems their lawsuit for harassment as being false. The prisoners can also (typically) no longer file another lawsuit if the court rejects three previous lawsuits. Moreover, prisoners cannot file a claim for mental or emotional injury unless they can prove an accompanying physical injury.

Prisoners should take care to get all injuries documented, and to put the state on notice regarding their injuries. The services of a skilled injury attorney can be invaluable in this regard to help prepare a solid lawsuit that will not result in a dismissal.

Wagner Reese has a team of highly experienced attorneys who are experienced in law enforcement misconduct and prison negligence cases, and we can help you with this difficult process. Contact us today for more information on how we can bring justice to you or your loved ones who have suffered from prison abuse.


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