We live in a civilized society and being imprisoned does not mean giving up basic human rights. While, as a result of incarceration, inmates do have some of their rights limited and prisons are allowed to curtail certain rights based on safety and security, there are certain basic fundamental human rights that cannot be taken away from an individual, even when they have been incarcerated in prison or county jail.
The Eight Amendment to the United States Constitution protects inmates from cruel and unusual punishment. As a result, inmates are entitled to be housed in humane conditions. Furthermore, inmates are entitled to adequate mental and medical care, which for women include the right to prenatal and other necessary medical care, if they are pregnant, as well as postpartum care. Furthermore, female inmates have the right to refuse sterilization or any other birth control if they do not want it. Moreover, incarcerated individuals are entitled to freedom from discrimination, sexual harassment, the use of excessive force and assault, which includes sexual assault.
In 2003 the Prison Rape Elimination Act established a zero-tolerance policy for rape in any United States prison, which includes state as well as federal prisons. Unfortunately, sexual assault and rape in prisons across the United States continues to be a prevalent problem and countless inmates suffer as a result.