The purpose of jails and prisons is to provide security and discipline and to maintain the safety and health of society. Inmates, as well as jail and prison staff, require suitable protection against all sorts of harm.

Unfortunately, sexual assaults, physical attacks, and gang violence are prevalent behind bars—all which can result in extreme trauma, distress, severe injuries or even death. These events are unacceptable, but they can happen, which begs the question: Who protects inmates from being attacked in custody?

inmate attorney

Who protects inmates from harm?


Security As a Priority

When an offender is convicted to serve time behind bars, the jail or prison serving as their home assumes an obligation to ensure their welfare. Security, among many other things, is an essential aspect that must stay uncompromised.

Also, the correctional facility must ensure that no one can enter their premises unlawfully, including persons wanting to inflict harm on inmates.

Title 15 of California’s Code of Regulations requires each institution to maintain security measures, including, but not limited to, line-of-sight and perimeter security, to deter unauthorized entry and to keep custody, care, and control of all inmates.


Proper Staffing

In addition to enforcing adequate security measures, appropriate staff must keep an eye on everything and everyone.

Overcrowded prisons and jails, paired with understaffed personnel, make it challenging to supervise everyone and guarantee their safety from those who have ill intentions or a history of violence.

California law mandates that every institution have an appropriate housing and staffing level of inmate-to-staff ratios.

inmate attacks

Continual Assessment and Intervention

Jails and prisons must have a comprehensive approach to anticipate and reduce violence before it starts.

They should recognize risk factors that might lead to physical or sexual assault and intervene where possible, which means that staff members should receive special training that equips them with the skills to discover the signs of brewing trouble and respond accordingly.

California law mandates the preparation of an annual assessment of the safety and ‘clash’ between various groups of prisoners to reduce violence.


Tie-Up With Other Relevant Organizations

Prison authorities must collaborate with relevant organizations to conduct background checks on incoming inmates to identify violent tendencies and behavioral issues.

Additionally, they must team up with an organization that provides counseling services that cater to inmates dealing with mental health issues, trauma, and addiction.

California law mandates violence prevention cooperatives with local law enforcement agencies, official agencies, and other disciplinary activities.


Investigation and Response

Suppose a violent attack occurs on the premises. In that case, it’s the responsibility of the prison authorities to respond swiftly and adequately, which entails conducting an extensive investigation that identifies the perpetrator and the victim.

Once authorities identify the perpetrator, they will initiate disciplinary actions, including arrest and charging with criminal offenses where necessary.

The victim will receive the required medical attention and receive support to recover from the trauma.

California law mandates to assign responsibility both to perpetrators of violence and those who contribute to violence.

Jails and prisons are required to make the safety and security of inmates a top priority and are liable for the health and well-being of individuals under their care.

California law makes it mandatory for various institutions to ensure the safety of their prisoners through many avenues, including adequate security measures, preventative interventions, and responsive actions.

All in all, rehabilitation should be the number one priority of these institutions, not only punishing people for their crimes but also prioritizing rehabilitation over punishment, thereby reducing the recidivism rate and improving the safety of society.


Were You or a Loved One Harmed in Jail or Prison?

If your loved one was seriously injured or harmed in prison due to neglect, please contact us and share your story. We have worked with victims of wrongful death, jail medical neglect and related cases. You can see our jail death settlements and other case results here.