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Offenders' Rights in Casework and Counseling (From Correctional Assessment, Casework, and Counseling, P 263-292, 2001, Anthony Walsh, -- See NCJ-192641)

NCJ Number
Craig Hemmens J.D.
Date Published
30 pages
This chapter examines the legal and ethical issues confronting the correctional caseworker.
The courts have attempted to balance the individual rights of inmates and the authority of correctional administrators. Included in these rights are the Fourth Amendment (prohibition on unreasonable searches and seizures), the Fifth Amendment (privilege against self-incrimination), the Sixth Amendment (right to counsel), and the Fourteenth Amendment (right to be accorded due process of law). Other rights include the right to treatment and First Amendment rights of association and religious freedom. A right to treatment is offered because the state has restricted the inmate’s liberty and they are unable to obtain medical services on their own. The Eighth Amendment prohibits “cruel and unusual” punishment. In general, every prisoner has the right to be free of both offensive bodily contact and fear of it. Prison officials are permitted to use reasonable force to enforce discipline and to protect themselves and others. The use of force must be reasonable under the circumstances. Rejecting the contention that solitary confinement is unconstitutional, the courts have nevertheless required that the conditions not be disproportionate to the offense, and that basic due process protections be provided. Access to the courts was one of the very first constitutional rights that the Supreme Court extended to prisoners. Discipline is an important element of maintenance of security in the prison. The courts require administrators to provide “due process of law” to inmates involved in disciplinary proceedings. Parole boards are required to hold a parole hearing and provide the inmate with written reasons for their decision. Basically, the courts in recent years have made the caseworker’s job much more difficult by expanding dramatically the rights of criminal offenders, both incarcerated and in the community. Caseworkers have been held liable for failing to protect the public from the same clients to whom the courts have been according additional rights. Caseworkers need to remember that even though offenders do not enjoy the same rights as ordinary citizens, certain procedures still must be followed where rights have been circumscribed. 17 references, 3 figures