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Michela Bowman is the senior project advisor and vice president at Impact Justice, a California-based nonprofit that advocates for criminal justice reform and better prison conditions in the United States. She said it’s very difficult but not impossible for prisoners to claim that their rights have been violated under the Eighth Amendment’s prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment. The Prison Litigation Reform Act of 1995 requires inmates to exhaust administrative appeals before they may file a complaint in federal court.

While many U.S. prison systems voluntarily comply with American Correctional Association standards or fund inspector general units, Bowman said independent oversight of prison conditions is often lax compared to several European nations.

‘We do not have the safeguards in place in this country that many other countries do to be able to report and ensure that abuse doesn’t happen,’ Bowman said.”

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