Prisoners' Rights

Although the state is permitted to deny a person certain rights to liberty and property under criminal justice laws, prisoners retain their rights to other basic protections and freedoms - among these are freedom from cruel and unusual punishment, freedom of religion, the right to legal representation, and the right to due process.

The ACLU works to ensure that conditions of confinement are constitutional and consistent with health, safety, and human dignity.

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Legal Cases

  • PILP v. Wetzel (Hayes v. Wetzel)
    Federal lawsuit challenging Pennsylvania Department of Corrections' procedure of copying and storing mail between lawyers and their clients housed in DOC facilities
  • Arison v. Fayette County
    A class-action lawsuit challenging the cruel and inhumane living conditions for prisoners at the Fayette County Prison
  • Reid et al. v. Wetzel
    A lawsuit challenging the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections’ policy of housing inmates sentenced to death in solitary confinement
  • Williams v. Allegheny County
    A lawsuit filed against Allegheny County on behalf of Jules Williams, a transgender woman who was repeatedly abused while incarcerated at the Allegheny County Jail (ACJ).
  • Stum v. Thompson
    A federal lawsuit on behalf a woman who has been denied the right to marry her fiancé due to Department of Corrections (DOC) policy.

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