The Brown & Crouppen Legal Lens takes a closer look at everyday legal issues and gives you a better understanding of topics that may affect you.
ST. LOUIS– Lonzo Cummings was incarcerated last year at the St. Louis City Justice Center. Even though cellphones are prohitbited, Cummings used one to record a video of concerning conditions inside the prison.
Andrea McNairy, managing attorney at Brown & Crouppen, takes a closer look at what rights inmates have in this week’s Legal Lens with FOX 2’s Vic Faust.
“Everyone whether prisoner or awaiting trail has rights,” said McNairy. “There are certain rights guaranteed by the Constitution. The most common is right to facility conditions, the right to assert a claim under the American Diabilities Act, the right to medical care and intention, and the right to appropriate menatl health care.”
McNairy said the Eighth Amendment right touches on the Lounzo Cummings situation. That right protects one from cruel and unusual punishment.
“So, in a prison situation, if a prisoner feels there conditions are inadequate, unsanityary are unsafe they can claim the Eightn Amendment of the Constituion.”
What would an Eighth Ammendemnt violation be?
“That would be prisoners are basically stripped of their ability to get basic necessities,” McNairy said. “So prison officals are required to provide those basic necessities. Things like food, clothing, shelter, sanitation, medical care and provide for their personal safety.”
“The test that courts kind of use to decide if something is adequate or not is whether or not those conditons of confinement result in a prisoner dengerating rather than reforming,” she added. “So if it’s found that conditions in a prison actually make the liklihood of reformation less likely, a court may rule there is not adequate needs being met.”
What does Missouri law require?
“Missouri law has very little, almost nothing related to what prison are required to do — but the U.S. Consitution does extend to Missouri prisons,” McNairy said.