Prisons and Correctional Facilities Law and Legal Definition

The construction and operation of a penal institution is a governmental function. Federal and state laws govern the establishment and administration of prisons as well as the rights of the inmates. The laws prescribing responsibility for the structure and superintendence of such institutions are strictly construed. Although prisoners do not have full Constitutional rights they are protected by the Constitution's prohibition of cruel and unusual punishment, so that they must be afforded a minimal standard of living. Prisoners are therefore protected against unequal treatment on the basis of race, sex, and creed and have due process rights of appeal under the 14th Amendment. Prisoners also have limited rights to speech and religion.

State prisoners have no rights to particular classifications under state law and state prison officials have broad discretion in the classification of a prisoner once he or she is convicted -- i.e.: maximum vs. minimum security, solitary confinement, etc.