Prisoners are allowed to challenge the conditions of their prison and the treatment they receive, so long as their challenge is not frivolous or malicious. A challenge must be made in good faith and have a legal and factual basis. If the challenge is frivolous or malicious, a judge will dismiss the suit and the prisoner’s credibility may be harmed.
What are the Steps to Challenging Prison Conditions?
First a prisoner may be required to exhaust any internal grievance procedures the prison may have. This requires the prisoner to try and solve the problem locally without getting the courts and legal system involved.
If the internal claims procedures turn out to be inadequate, a prisoner may file a claim in the courts. In order to succeed, a prisoner must show that the prison guards, employees, or officers knowingly violated his civil rights. The elements of proving such a claim include:
- Evidence of a violation of the prisoner’s rights
- Showing that the prison guards, employees, or officers were aware of the civil rights violation
- Proof that the prison guards, employees, or officers did nothing to protect the prisoner’s civil rights, or encouraged the violation of the prisoner’s rights
Can a Lawyer Help Me Challenge My Prison’s Conditions?
If you are incarcerated and want to make a challenge, an experienced criminal defense lawyer can help you file a complaint. An attorney also can help you gather evidence and represent you in court.