Treatment of prisoners research

Document Type:Research Paper

Subject Area:Criminology

Document 1

The lack of public attention, prison systems across the globe and especially in the U. S subject prisoners to different treatment with factors such as prison population and availability of resources dictating the treatment accorded to prisoners. Prisoners are confined in solitary confinement from weeks to years causing grievous psychological effects such as cognitive delays, suicide, stress, increased aggression, hostility and anxiety (Conley, 2017). Other prisoners are subjected to physical torture, sexual and verbal assault and other use of force. Therefore, the objective of this paper is to analyse the treatment of prisoners from the perspective of the Eighth Amendment to the U. The plight of prisoners has been neglected over the history of the American prison system and this is what has been extended even to the current treatment that prisoners are facing.

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Johnson et al (2005) indicates that the first true modern prison in America was through the adoption of the penitentiaries system. The first jail of that adopted this system was the Walnut Street Jail located in Philadelphia in 1790. The penitentiaries system was considered to be originally American before it was adopted by other countries. Under this system, the prisoners (either all or some) were cast in individual cells with the aim of providing the prisoners with a space to do penance. In this system, prisoners were subjected to pure silence and solitary during the nights and during the day, pure labour. Beaumont and De Tocqueville stated that, “the silence in these walls was that of death” (O’Connor, 2014). Therefore, the prisons during this time were considered odd and uncomfortable for prisoners.

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However, with time, the prison system in America was restructured and aimed at rehabilitating prisoners instead. During the enlightenment period in the America, George Washington sentiments which emphasized on a upholding of every man’s right encountered opposition especially from individuals in repressive authority who demanded for toleration of natural rights infringement (O’Connor, 2014). Riederer (2009) highlights the instances where the Eighth Amendment claims cannot be declared grossly inadequate to amount to unusual and cruel treatments of prisoners. For instance, if the prisoners are afforded with air ventilation, food, noise, resources of learning as well as space. These factors are clearly enumerated by the Law Office of the Southern Center for Human Rights (2010). Additionally, the author indicates that claims to live comfortably and under limited restrictions by the prisoners also cannot be termed as a cruel and unusual punishment on the basis of the Eighth Amendment.

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One issue of particular importance noted by the author is on the imposition of death penalty on prisoners. Dougherty (2008) in these articles introduces an important argument on whether injuries caused to prisoners while undertaking their routine labour amounts to cruel and unusual punishment thus a violation of the Eighth Amendment. The author notes inconsistency in both and federal and state prisons to allow prisoners seek claims from the Eighth Amendment. For instance, courts held where prisoners have been forced to work using defective equipment which led to injurious, such prisoners are allowed to bring claims of unusual and cruel punishment under the Eighth Amendment. However, other court decisions have indicated that defective machines used by prisoners even where the defects were known by the officials of the prison does not give prisoners the right to bring claims under the Eighth Amendment.

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Nevertheless, it is the author’s contention that injuries occasioned to prisoners as result of malfunctioning equipment fits the Eighth Amendment domain and should be recognized by the courts. One example of such prisons as provided by the author is the State Correctional Institution at Fayette, Pennsylvania. Rovner (2015) terms solitary confinement which is part of the modern prison systems in the U. S as unconstitutional by regarding it as cruel and unusual punishment on the prisoners. The author makes this conclusion based on sentiments of Supreme Court Judges such as Justice Samuel Miller and Justice Kennedy in the recent years. The unconstitutionality of solitary confinements is declared as result of the irreparable injuries it causes on prisoners such as mental disorders and suicide.

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Equally important, for an effective implementation of the prison reforms, Reiderer states that the constitutional interpretation by the Supreme Court is essentially the guiding and operational template that should be uses to avoid any circumvention of the rules and to expand the scope of the reforms (2009). For instance, in order to bring reforms on the prisons labour challenge, consideration of courts direction in regards to prison labour constitutionality will be important. Challenges of implementation For instance, the reason why prisons problems such as the above-mentioned exists is because the Supreme Court till date has not provided a clear illustration of what amounts cruel prisons conditions even in existence of Estelle v. Gamble ruling (Dolovich, 2009). Another challenge to the implementation prisons reforms exists as a result of lack of uniformity by federal courts on the applicable standards of determining whether there is a violation of Eighth Amendment (Chung, 2000).

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