Your Rights While In Custody

The fact that you are in custody either following a conviction or awaiting trial does not mean that all of your constitutional rights disappear. As a rule, you have no reasonable expectation of privacy in your cell or your person while in custody, so law enforcement can search you and your belongings. To a more limited extent, they can also search your incoming and outgoing mail.

However, other important constitutional rights still adhere to citizens in custody:

The right to reading material

You have the right to receive legal publications and communications from attorneys and publishing houses. A recent attempt by Nevada prison officials to ban prisoner receipt of legal publications has drawn a First Amendment lawsuit to protect the inmates’ rights to reading material.

Protection from discrimination

The Fourteenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution protects inmates against mistreatment or discrimination on the basis of gender, race, or religious affiliation.

Prohibition on cruel and unusual punishment

The Eighth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution prohibits cruel and unusual punishment, which has been interpreted to include ensuring the provision of decent housing and food for prisoners. However, courts traditionally do not interfere with prison authorities’ classification of prisoners ― the decision to classify a prisoner as a maximum security or minimum security inmate is almost always left to the discretion of prison authorities.

Right to due process

The Fifth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution states that an alleged criminal must be accorded due process of law before being deprived of life, liberty or property. For prisoners, this means that they have a right to due process even while incarcerated. An inmate has a right to appeal a criminal conviction or sentence, a right to appeal any administrative action by prison staff and a right to the parole process. However, the right to litigate has been severely circumscribed by the Prison Litigation Reform Act (PLRA) of 1996, which has placed innumerable and time-bound requirements in the way of inmate appeals.

If you know or are someone in custody who is being deprived of the constitutional rights to which all citizens are entitled while incarcerated, then avail yourself of our Sixth Amendment right under the U.S. Constitution to counsel ̶ contact an experienced and aggressive criminal appellate lawyer familiar with the Nevada and federal penal system to help you fight the prison system and navigate the PLRA maze.

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