It is important to remember that even incarcerated inmates are entitled to their constitutional rights. People sustaining injuries may have to deal with sovereign immunity when it comes to certain lawsuits.  In Pennsylvania, there are many different constitutional protections given to those who are incarcerated. Constitutional issues with Parolees  Some of these rights are the Eighth Amendment protection from cruel and unusual punishment, protection from sexual harassment or sex crimes, rights to complain about prison conditions, medical and mental healthcare, basic First Amendment rights, and protection against discrimination. Unfortunately, these rights are breached on a daily basis for many prisoners across the country. In some instances, it is possible for prisoners to sue and get just compensation for what they have been through. Although that is ideal, it is not unusual for county and state prisons to be protected from liability. This concept is known as sovereign immunity.

Sovereign immunity is the protection that the federal and Pennsylvania state government granted themselves from liability. Like many other statutes in PA, there are several different exceptions where the state government may be liable. Some of these liabilities include vehicle liability, medical-professional liability, and care custody or control of personal property.  Premises liability In addition to sovereign immunity, the state has an indemnity relating to inmate health care. On a local level, prisons are also held liable for the liabilities previously stated, with the exception of medical-professional liability.

Section 1983 of the Civil Rights Act gives citizens, including prisoners, the ability to sue for injuries or harm caused to them by state or local government agencies. It allows a prisoner to sue in federal court for an alleged deprivation of a federally protected or constitutional right by a person acting under the authority of state law. A prisoner is able to sue the warden or supervisor, a guard, or the local government that owns and runs the prison. It does not allow a prisoner to sue if injuries were caused by the federal government or by private parties. A person can sue for injuries caused by the federal government under a Bivens action. If Section 1983 and Bivens do not apply, it is possible to sue for compensation for prison or jail under state tort law. When private parties are responsible for a prisoner’s injury, it is not possible to sue them under Section 1983 nor under a Bivens action. In order to sue a private party, one must sue under state tort law. Prisoners may receive just compensation for negligence and battery. ​