Right to Medical Care in Prison

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Failure to provide adequate medical care continues to pose one of the greatest threats to prisoner's around the world. In some parts of the world, HIV and other prison diseases pose the greatest threat to life. In some of these places, a sentence is the functional equivalent of the death penalty.

International Law

Under United Nations' General Assembly Resolution 44/111, "Prisoners shall have access to the health services available in the country without discrimination on the grounds of their legal situation." [1]

Despite this promise, prisoner continue to suffer some of the worst health care in the world.

Specific Country Examples

United States

Prisoners are the only Americans with a Constitutional right to medical care. [2]


  1. A/RES/45/111 Basic Principles for the Treatment of Prisoners, passed 14 Dec. 1990, available at http://www.un.org/documents/ga/res/45/a45r111.htm
  2. Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 103 (1976)