Towards a Theory of Prisoners' Rights

Ratio Juris 15 (2002): 122-45

Posted: 14 Feb 2013

Date Written: February 13, 2013


This paper explores the issue of prisoners’ rights. The conditions of incarcerated people in jails and prisons include psychological and physical deterioration brought on by their condition of confinement. The one sanction that has been debated extensively in the United States is the death penalty. Yet there are numerous losses or deprivations short of death that we might impose on legal offenders. In addition to broader issues such as the nature of rights and the basic moral rights possessed by individuals, issues specific to the rights of serious legal offenders are distinguished and discussed. The latter issues include whether offenders forfeit all or some of their moral rights, whether their retained rights are less stringent, whether the state has any obligation to facilitate exercise of their retained rights, and what specific rights prisoners retain or acquire.

Keywords: imprisonment, rights, prisoners' rights, forfeiture

Suggested Citation

Lippke, Richard, Towards a Theory of Prisoners' Rights (February 13, 2013). Ratio Juris 15 (2002): 122-45, Available at SSRN:

Richard Lippke (Contact Author)

Indiana University ( email )

Department of Criminal Justice
Bloomington, IN
United States
812-856-6049 (Phone)

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