What Privileges Do Inmates in Prison Have?

Handcuffed Inmate
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Prisoner privileges vary according to state, but most allow a decent amount to abiding inmates. There are some legal rights they have as well, but in some cases, judges can refuse them. Some of the rights that cannot be revoked are visitation, food, medical care and being allowed to practice their religion.


Allowing prisoners to watch television and have a TV in their cells is a privilege available in some prisons. There are usually two or more TV sets in a common living space. It helps them with boredom and stress as well as calming some who are restless.

Education and Work

Many prisons have libraries for the inmates that are filled with legal references, novels and other types of books. They are usually donated by people or organizations. The material that is available helps prisoners to learn the law and get educated in case they don't have representation; although indigent inmates are provided with public defenders when being prosecuted for a crime, they are not guaranteed representation for appeals. Thus, they must often represent themselves.

Inmates also have the opportunity to work in prison for small wages but cannot choose what they do or refuse an assignment. If they do, there is a chance of being punished. Having a bank account in the prison is allowed with transaction limits, and they may purchase items from the prison store.

Health and Exercise

Keeping clean and maintaining a healthy lifestyle is regulated by the prison. There are minimum standards of personal hygiene that must be kept. There is also a set amount of recreation time to work out and get exercise. Participating in group sports, hobbies and interest groups is also allowed.

Personal Property

Prisoners have the right to own personal items such as stationery, cigarettes, cosmetics and watches. This has often brought up issues with inmates having wealth among others and it may encourage gambling, theft and buying items from guards. Items like radios, televisions or typewriters have sometimes been refused. Religious materials are allowed so inmates can practice, which can include programs on TV and the radio.

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