If you end up behind bars, there are some important things you MUST remember. As Black people, we are more at risk than others to end up in prisons and jails. Since our imprisonment happens disproportionately, knowing our rights may make a difference in a bad situation.
The U.S. Constitution guarantees rights to prisoners. If you’re locked up, you have a right to the following: food, medical care (including mental health care), a safe and humane facility, and safety from sexual crimes and excessive force. You have the right to complain too!
Pregnant women have rights in prison, too. You have the right to reject any sort of sterilization or unwanted birth control and the right to an abortion. You have the right to not be shackled during childbirth - ALL prisoners are supposed to be free from cruel and unusual punishment.
You’re supposed to be free from discrimination in prison and jail. It doesn’t matter what your religion, gender, or race is. Since we know prisons don’t always respect our rights, a lot depends on us getting things in writing (keep a copy for yourself, too) and seeking legal assistance if or when possible.
According to the ACLU, for many of these circumstances, if you feel your rights are being violated “you should file a grievance, and appeal it through all available levels of appeal.”
Prisons and jails can be hell, but asserting our rights is a crucial form of struggle on the inside.