The United States has both the highest incarceration rate and the largest incarcerated population in the world. However, prison oversight in markedly less developed in the United States than in many other democracies. No other group in American society is so completely disabled from defending its right and interests. The passage of the Prison Litigation Reform Act has significantly weakened oversight by the Federal courts, historically the main bulwark against mistreatment and abuse. The Standards on the Treatment of Prisoners, discussed in length in this article, provide suggestions for a multi-pronged enhancement of oversight, both judicial and non-judicial, that would improve the conditions in prisons. Part 1 of this article provide an overview of the significant decline in Federal-court oversight of U.S. prisons and jails in the last two decades; part 2 examines the dearth of non-judicial oversight mechanisms; and part 3 discusses the unique oversight problems posed by private prisons.