Right to Equal Treatment.
Although prisoners retain some equal protection rights upon incarceration, prisoners as a group are not a "suspect class" for equal protection purposes. Thus, to prevail on an equal protection claim, an inmate must usually prove (1) similarly situated inmates intentionally have been treated differently from one another by the government; and (2) there is no rational relation between the dissimilar treatment and any legitimate penological interest. But if a claim involves dissimilar treatment based on race or religion, the government must prove that the dissimilar treatment is "narrowly tailored" to advance a "compelling governmental interest." This heightened test, known as "strict scrutiny," does not normally apply to claims of unequal treatment among prisoners based on gender, disability, or the nature of their crimes. Additionally, courts have determined the Prison Litigation Reform Act (PLRA), which establishes several prerequisites prisoners must satisfy before they may file a lawsuit in federal court, does not violate the equal protection component of the Fifth Amendment.