Incarcerated Individuals Maintain Civil and Fundamental Rights

Debra Blackwell
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The California Attorney General is the state's top lawyer and law enforcement official. Safeguarding Californians from harm and promoting community safety are among the Attorney General's responsibilities, including determining whether a law enforcement agency has "engaged in a pattern or practice" of violating state or federal law. Riverside County Sheriff's Department is one of Southern California's largest law enforcement agencies. It is now under investigation following a two-decade-high record of deaths of incarcerated persons within the county jails, amongst other disturbing allegations. The investigation is breaking news. However, the troubling allegations have been a concern for quite some time, and now the California Attorney General is shedding light upon the Riverside County Department. An oversight committee was called for regarding the significant rise in deaths of incarcerated persons. However, that call was not answered; Sheriff Chad Bianco stands by the department stating, "this investigation would be a waste of time and resources," adding the department has "nothing to hide." No specific examples of alleged misconduct have been disclosed at this time.

Contrary to what some of the general public may believe, incarcerated individuals maintain fundamental rights.

Inmates have the right to humane conditions, not necessarily comfortable, but working toilets, running water, and free from insect infestation and other hazards to human health.

Inmates maintain the right to adequate mental health and medical care. Corrections and Rehabilitation do not have to provide cutting-edge health care and access to care preventing cruel and unusual punishment, which falls under the Eighth Amendment, which covers basic needs and care. However, prisons should take steps to protect inmates from known harm that may fall under "inhumane." And these name a few of the rights incarcerated persons maintain.

Personal rights and fundamental rights of the incarcerated in California include the right to attend religious services, and prison officials must make reasonable efforts to provide for the spiritual welfare of prisoners. However, all personal rights depend on safety and security, and any personal rights can be infringed upon if the potential for danger is imminent in the correctional facility.

There is a remarkable difference between personal rights and privileges; there are conditions. Privileges may be considered entertainment, mental stimulation, and opportunity for social situations and personal growth. However, these privileges depend on behavior, a secure environment, and safety.

However, suppose suspicions arise regarding any rights infringed upon or circumstances that could have been prevented within the jails and prisons, including alleged discrimination. In that case, an investigation should not be a surprise when launched. As the general public watching from the outside, we must keep in mind the daily life of not only the well-being of the incarcerated but the law enforcement agency as well. Law enforcement juggles several different situations and personalities, physical health issues, mental health issues, and confined quarters for the inmates, which could cause strife and other problems that may arise daily. The department is responsible for ensuring with all due diligence, the facilities are monitored as closely as possible.

With all due respect to the Riverside County Sheriff's Department, let us focus not only on the negative light being shone but on the positive impacts they have on our community.

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Debra Blackwell has been writing content for over 20 years. Breaking news, news that impacts our country, such as social injustice, operations that impact incarcerated individuals, homelessness, and relevant local news her most passionate interests.

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