Although an inmates rights are specifically guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution, it can be very difficult to sue for and recover damages against the government. This is because of a principle called “Sovereign Immunity,” which protects both the Federal government and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania from most legal claims.
As many people know, the laws of our county are usually enforced by the executive branch of government, along with the police and other agencies.
There are several overarching principles that must be understood when filing a civil rights claim.
As discussed in the Mizner Law Firm Sovereign Immunity post, which you can access here, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania generally cannot be sued for negligence or other types of torts which it or its employees cause.
In old England, while the system of law we still use today was being developed, kings realized that the courts they were setting up might leave them vulnerable to being sued by their own subjects. In response, the principle of sovereign immunity was developed and enshrined as law: you cannot sue the king.
Even though a person is in prison, they still have rights guaranteed by the United States Constitution.
This federal law requires institutions, like as the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections, to ensure that disabled prisoners have access to the same services and programs as everyone else.
Although the United States Constitution was drafted with the understanding that all citizens must be treated equally, our nation’s collective understanding of what that means has expanded dramatically over the past two centuries.
The United States Constitution specifically provides certain rights to prisoners, especially under the Eighth Amendment, which states that prisoners cannot be subject to “cruel and unusual punishment.”