Prisoner rights are basic human rights that many people think should be accorded to prisoners. The argument is that, even though prisoners have been incarcerated for the commission of a crime, they are still living human beings, and they therefore deserve human rights, just like all other humans. Of special concern to some advocates are prisoners of conscience and other individuals who may not belong in prison, along with people who are imprisoned in nations where they are not citizens.
Some rights given to prisoners are not terribly controversial. For example, most advocates agree that prisoners have the right to safe living conditions, wholesome food, and medical care. Assault in prisons is a constant problem, and addressing assaults and rapes is an important part of advocacy. In addition, many people also believe that people in prison deserve certain legal protections, including the right to an attorney, access to the appeals process, the appeal to sue for better living conditions, and other protections that are guaranteed to prisoners by law, but not necessarily enforced.
Advocates for prisoner rights also argue that inmates deserve the right to visits from friends, family members, and concerned individuals. They should also be entitled to freedom of speech and religion, liberties that are severely curtailed for prisoners in many regions of the world. Freedom from torture and legal abuse is also supported by advocates, and many of them also support access to education, work opportunities, and reading materials, arguing that personal improvement should be a part of the prison experience for those who ask for it.
Other rights that have been brought up in this movement include things like conjugal visits, passes for temporary leave on the basis of good behavior, and an increase in wages for jobs performed as a prisoner. Many nations use inmates as a source of cheap or free labor, with prisoners typically receiving little or no pay for their work, and some advocates argue that this is little better than slavery.
Many human rights organizations promote prisoner rights, using a variety of techniques including advocating for individual prisoners, pushing for reforms in the prison system, and lobbying for changes in the law. Supporters believe that no matter what crime someone has been convicted of committing, he or she is entitled to respect, dignity and basic rights, along with avenues to appeal a verdict and to protest unfair treatment and cruel conditions.