Prison law is a specialized area of the legal profession that addresses the human rights and representation needs of incarcerated men and women. While individuals who enter penal institutions do forfeit many freedoms, they typically should not become subject to a lesser law than that governing the land in which they serve their sentences. When the line between rights and freedoms is in question, legal representatives schooled and trained specifically in prison law are often needed.
There are high-profile stories of prisoners who have served long sentences for crimes they did not commit. Sensational cases of abuse within penal institutions have been reported in the popular media. Family members of those incarcerated may spend many years and exhaust their financial resources securing visits to see their loved ones. Each of these areas involves rights within the scope of prison law.
Cases of being denied medical treatment, being housed in unsafe facilities, and facing sentences that seem excessive for the weight of the crimes committed can be common for lawyers who work with prisoners. Overcrowding also can be a pressing legal concern. Many prison populations are outgrowing the capacity of their facility.