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How Far Have Standards Of Decency Evolved In Fifteen Years? An Update On Atkins Jurisprudence In Mississippi, Alexander Kassoff Apr 2024

How Far Have Standards Of Decency Evolved In Fifteen Years? An Update On Atkins Jurisprudence In Mississippi, Alexander Kassoff

Mississippi College Law Review

In 2002, the United States Supreme Court handed down Atkins v. Virginia, holding that the Eighth Amendment prohibits the execution of people with intellectual disability. In the years since that ruling, some change has occurred, but questions remain. This article will examine significant developments in Atkins jurisprudence during that time period. It will look at the two post-Atkins United States Supreme Court cases, and the development of the law - in Mississippi especially, but also to some extent in other jurisdictions that still have the death penalty.


Sentence Served And No Place To Go: An Eighth Amendment Analysis Of "Dead Time" Incarceration, Christopher B. Scheren Jan 2024

Sentence Served And No Place To Go: An Eighth Amendment Analysis Of "Dead Time" Incarceration, Christopher B. Scheren

Northwestern University Law Review

Although the state typically releases incarcerated people to reintegrate into society after completing their terms, indigent people convicted of sex offenses in Illinois and New York have been forced to remain behind bars for months, or even years, past their scheduled release dates. A wide range of residency restrictions limit the ability of people convicted of sex offenses to live near schools and other public areas. Few addresses are available for them, especially in high-density cities such as Chicago or New York City, where schools and other public locations are especially difficult to avoid. At the intersection of sex offenses …


Mental Health In Prison: The Unintended But Catastrophic Effects Of Deinstitutionalization, Felicia Mulholland Jan 2024

Mental Health In Prison: The Unintended But Catastrophic Effects Of Deinstitutionalization, Felicia Mulholland

Touro Law Review

Prisons and jails are not adequately equipped to manage the ever-growing population of mentally ill inmates. Despite deinstitutionalization efforts, prisons have steadily become the new psychiatric hospitals and unfortunately, because of the lack of treatment and the ability to properly supervise this population of inmates, these individuals are dying by their own hands at an alarming rate. This Note argues that the lack of proper care for mentally ill inmates is a violation of their constitutional right, despite their incarcerated status. The Department of Corrections and Community Supervision (DOCCS) should incorporate more concrete and universal rules and regulations for the …


Subjectively Speaking, The Applicable Standard For Deficient Medical Treatment Of Pretrial Detainees Should Be One Of Objective Reasonableness, Benjamin R. Black Jan 2024

Subjectively Speaking, The Applicable Standard For Deficient Medical Treatment Of Pretrial Detainees Should Be One Of Objective Reasonableness, Benjamin R. Black

Touro Law Review

There is no uniformity amongst the circuits when it comes to pretrial detainees claims for inadequate medical care. The circuits are currently grappling with this problem, applying two separate tests to pretrial detainees’ 42 U.S.C. § 1983 claims depending on the jurisdiction in which the incident arose. The test that should be applied across all circuits is one of objective reasonableness. However, some circuits do not see it that way, applying the deliberate indifference standard, also known as the subjective standard test. The circuits applying the subjective standard are relying on case law that does not properly analyze the rights …


Children Are Different: Jones V. Mississippi, Juvenile Life Without Parole, And Why Youthfulness Matters In Sentencing, Giulia Hintz Mcquirter Oct 2023

Children Are Different: Jones V. Mississippi, Juvenile Life Without Parole, And Why Youthfulness Matters In Sentencing, Giulia Hintz Mcquirter

Mississippi College Law Review

“We are a country of mercy, and we are a country of vengeance, and we live with both at the same time.” This is how Robert Dunham, death penalty expert and Executive Director of the Death Penalty Information Center, describes the United States sentencing system. Battling inside each of us is the desire for people to pay for their wrongdoings, warring against the empathy of our human nature that wants to see the good in people, even criminals.

This internal conflict is rarely on better display than in cases involving child criminals. It is impossible to forget that these children …


The Court And Capital Punishment On Different Paths: Abolition In Waiting, Carol S. Steiker, Jordan M. Steiker Apr 2023

The Court And Capital Punishment On Different Paths: Abolition In Waiting, Carol S. Steiker, Jordan M. Steiker

Washington and Lee Journal of Civil Rights and Social Justice

The American death penalty finds itself in an unusual position. On the ground, the practice is weaker than at any other time in our history. Eleven jurisdictions have abandoned the death penalty over the past fifteen years, almost doubling the number of states without the punishment (twenty-three). Executions have declined substantially, totaling twenty-five or fewer a year nationwide for the past six years, compared to an average of seventy-seven a year during the six-year span around the millennium (1997-2002). Most tellingly, death sentences have fallen off a cliff, with fewer the fifty death sentences a year nationwide over the past …


The Gross Injustices Of Capital Punishment: A Torturous Practice And Justice Thurgood Marshall’S Astute Appraisal Of The Death Penalty’S Cruelty, Discriminatory Use, And Unconstitutionality, John D. Bessler Apr 2023

The Gross Injustices Of Capital Punishment: A Torturous Practice And Justice Thurgood Marshall’S Astute Appraisal Of The Death Penalty’S Cruelty, Discriminatory Use, And Unconstitutionality, John D. Bessler

Washington and Lee Journal of Civil Rights and Social Justice

Through the centuries, capital punishment and torture have been used by monarchs, authoritarian regimes, and judicial systems around the world. Although torture is now expressly outlawed by international law, capital punishment—questioned by Quakers in the seventeenth century and by the Italian philosopher Cesare Beccaria and many others in the following century—has been authorized over time by various legislative bodies, including in the United States. It was Beccaria’s book, Dei delitti e delle pene (1764), translated into French and then into English as An Essay on Crimes and Punishments (1767), that fueled the still-ongoing international movement to outlaw the death penalty. …


No Sense Of Decency, Kathryn E. Miller Mar 2023

No Sense Of Decency, Kathryn E. Miller

Articles

For nearly seventy years, the Court has assessed Eighth Amendment claims by evaluating “the evolving standards of decency that mark the progress of a maturing society.” In this Article, I examine the evolving standards of decency test, which has long been a punching bag for critics on both the right and the left. Criticism of the doctrine has been fierce, but largely academic until recent years. Some fault the test for being too majoritarian, while others argue that it provides few constraints on the Justices’ discretion, permitting their personal predilections to rule the day. For many, the test is seen …


No Sense Of Decency, Kathryn E. Miller Mar 2023

No Sense Of Decency, Kathryn E. Miller

Washington Law Review

For nearly seventy years, the Court has assessed Eighth Amendment claims by evaluating “the evolving standards of decency that mark the progress of a maturing society.” In this Article, I examine the evolving standards of decency test, which has long been a punching bag for critics on both the right and the left. Criticism of the doctrine has been fierce but largely academic until recent years. Some fault the test for being too majoritarian, while others argue that it provides few constraints on the Justices’ discretion, permitting their personal predilections to rule the day. For many, the test is seen …


Gender Confirmation Surgery And The Federal Prison System: Eighth Amendment Framework And Proposed Alternatives, Julie Barnett Jan 2023

Gender Confirmation Surgery And The Federal Prison System: Eighth Amendment Framework And Proposed Alternatives, Julie Barnett

Marquette Benefits and Social Welfare Law Review

As reform for individuals with gender dysphoria has developed, the prison system's accommodation of those individuals' needs has underperformed. There have been a number of cases in the past few years where inmates who are experiencing gender dysphoria have not received adequate care in the form of gender confirmation surgery. Four of the Federal Appellate Circuit Courts have decided that a physician's refusal to provide an inmate with gender confirmation surgery is not a violation of the 8th Amendment. One circuit ruled differently and held that denial of the surgery to an inmate experiencing gender dysphoria does violate the 8th …


Obstacles To Proving 24-Hour Lighting Is Cruel And Unusual Under Eighth Amendment Jurisprudence, Lauren Jaech Dec 2022

Obstacles To Proving 24-Hour Lighting Is Cruel And Unusual Under Eighth Amendment Jurisprudence, Lauren Jaech

Washington Law Review

Twenty-four-hour lighting causes sleep deprivation, depression, and other serious disorders for incarcerated individuals, yet courts often do not consider it to be cruel and unusual. To decide if prison conditions violate the Eighth Amendment’s prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment, courts follow a two-part inquiry that requires examining the intent of prison officials (known as the subjective prong) as well as the degree of seriousness of the alleged cruel or unusual condition (the objective prong). Incarcerated individuals often file complaints challenging 24-hour lighting conditions. Whether they succeed on these claims may depend on the circuit in which they reside. Judges …


Certain Prosecutors: Geographical Arbitrariness, Unusualness, & The Abolition Of Virginia’S Death Penalty, Bernadette M. Donovan Oct 2022

Certain Prosecutors: Geographical Arbitrariness, Unusualness, & The Abolition Of Virginia’S Death Penalty, Bernadette M. Donovan

Washington and Lee Journal of Civil Rights and Social Justice

Virginia’s abolition of the death penalty in 2021 was a historic development. As both a southern state and one of the country’s most active death penalty jurisdictions, Virginia’s transition away from capital punishment represented an important shift in the national landscape. This article considers whether that shift has any constitutional significance, focusing on the effect of Virginia’s abolition on the geographical arbitrariness of the country’s death penalty.

As a starting point, the death penalty in America is primarily regulated by the Eighth Amendment, which bars “cruel and unusual punishments.” The United States Supreme Court has held that the death penalty …


A Second Look For Children Sentenced To Die In Prison, Kathryn E. Miller Oct 2022

A Second Look For Children Sentenced To Die In Prison, Kathryn E. Miller

Articles

Scholars have championed “second look” statutes as a decarceral tool. Second look statutes allow certain incarcerated people to seek resentencing after having served a portion of their sentences. This Essay weighs the advantages and disadvantages of these statutes as applied to children sentenced to die in prison and argues that focusing on this small, discrete group may be a digestible entry point for more conservative states who fear widespread resentencing. Moreover, because early data indicates that children convicted of homicide and released as adults have very low recidivism rates, second look beneficiaries are likely to pose little threat to public …


Is Misdemeanor Cash Bail An Unconstitutional Excessive Fine?, Barnett J. Harris Apr 2022

Is Misdemeanor Cash Bail An Unconstitutional Excessive Fine?, Barnett J. Harris

Pepperdine Law Review

The Excessive Fines Clause is one of the least developed clauses pertaining to criminal procedure in the Bill of Rights. In fact, the Supreme Court has only interpreted the Clause a few times in its entire history. Yet, on any given day, hundreds of thousands of people languish in jails without having been convicted of anything, because most of these people are unable to meet the bail amount a judge sets. This Essay examines the surprisingly under-explored relationship between misdemeanor cash bail & pretrial detention and the Excessive Fines and Excessive Bail Clauses of the Eighth Amendment, using the Supreme …


Arkansas’S Civil Asset Forfeiture Statute And The Eighth Amendment’S Excessive Fines Clause, Aaron Newell Mar 2022

Arkansas’S Civil Asset Forfeiture Statute And The Eighth Amendment’S Excessive Fines Clause, Aaron Newell

University of Arkansas at Little Rock Law Review

No abstract provided.


Cruel And Unusual Punishment: The Eighth Amendment And Ice Detainees In The Covid-19 Crisis, Nechelle Nicholas Feb 2022

Cruel And Unusual Punishment: The Eighth Amendment And Ice Detainees In The Covid-19 Crisis, Nechelle Nicholas

Pace Law Review

No abstract provided.


Girls, Assaulted, I. India Thusi Jan 2022

Girls, Assaulted, I. India Thusi

Northwestern University Law Review

Girls who are incarcerated share a common trait: They have often experienced multiple forms of sexual assault, at the hands of those close to them and at the hands of the state. The #MeToo movement has exposed how powerful people and institutions have facilitated pervasive sexual violence. However, there has been little attention paid to the ways that incarceration perpetuates sexual exploitation. This Article focuses on incarcerated girls and argues that the state routinely sexually assaults girls by mandating invasive, nonconsensual searches. Unwanted touching and display of private parts are common features of life before and after incarceration—from the sexual …


Hiv No Longer A Death Sentence But Still A Life Sentence: The Constitutionality Of Hiv Criminalization Under The Eighth Amendment, Lauren Taylor Jan 2022

Hiv No Longer A Death Sentence But Still A Life Sentence: The Constitutionality Of Hiv Criminalization Under The Eighth Amendment, Lauren Taylor

Georgia Law Review

When the HIV/AIDS epidemic began in the 1980s in the United States, there was mass confusion and hysteria regarding HIV transmission and prevention, leading many states to enact HIV criminalization statutes to prosecute persons living with HIV who either exposed another person to HIV or put someone in danger of being exposed to HIV. Yet, almost forty years later, these statutes are still used to criminalize and control the behaviors of people living with HIV, and in some cases, impose lengthy prison sentences hinging on the possibility of exposure. These HIV criminalization statutes and subsequent criminal cases often do not …


When Police Volunteer To Kill, Alexandra L. Klein Jan 2022

When Police Volunteer To Kill, Alexandra L. Klein

Faculty Articles

The Supreme Court has upheld the constitutionality of lethal injection, yet states continue to struggle with drug shortages and botched executions. Some states have authorized alternative methods of execution, including the firing squad. Utah, which has consistently carried out firing squad executions throughout its history, relies on police officers from the jurisdiction where the crime took place to volunteer to carry out these executions. This represents a plausible-and probable method for other states in conducting firing squad executions.

Public and academic discussion of the firing squad has centered on questions of pain and suffering. It has not engaged with the …


Towards A Dramaturgical Theory Of Constitutional Interpretation, Jessica Rizzo Jan 2022

Towards A Dramaturgical Theory Of Constitutional Interpretation, Jessica Rizzo

Seattle University Law Review

Like legal texts, dramatic texts have a public function and public responsibilities not shared by texts written to be appreciated in solitude. For this reason, the interpretation of dramatic texts offers a variety of useful templates for the interpretation of legal texts. In this Article, I elaborate on Jack Balkin and Sanford Levinson’s neglected account of law as performance. I begin with Balkin and Levinson’s observation that both legal and dramatic interpreters are charged with persuading audiences that their readings of texts are “authoritative,” analyzing the relationship between legal and theatrical authority and tradition. I then offer my own theory …


Creating Cautionary Tales: Institutional, Judicial, And Societal Indifference To The Lives Of Incarcerated Individuals, Nicole B. Godfrey Dec 2021

Creating Cautionary Tales: Institutional, Judicial, And Societal Indifference To The Lives Of Incarcerated Individuals, Nicole B. Godfrey

Arkansas Law Review

It has long been said that a society’s worth can be judged by taking stock of its prisons. That is all the truer in this pandemic, where inmates everywhere have been rendered vulnerable and often powerless to protect themselves from harm. May we hope that our country’s facilities serve as models rather than cautionary tales. Justice Sonia Sotomayor, joined by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, issued the above-quoted clarion call to protect the lives of incarcerated people on May 14, 2020. At that point, the COVID-19 pandemic had brought American society to a standstill for a little more than two months, …


Redeeming Justice, Terrell Carter, Rachel López, Kempis Songster Oct 2021

Redeeming Justice, Terrell Carter, Rachel López, Kempis Songster

Northwestern University Law Review

Approximately three decades ago, two of us, Terrell Carter and Kempis Songster, were sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. The U.S. Supreme Court has said that this sentence, effectively an order to die in prison, represented a legal determination that we were irredeemable. In this Article, with insights from our coauthor and friend, human rights scholar Rachel López, we ask: What does it mean for the law to judge some human beings as incapable of redemption? Isn’t the capacity for change core to the human condition, and shouldn’t that be reflected in the law?

This Article …


Lengthy Minimum Parole Requirements: A Denial Of Hope, Heather Walker Apr 2021

Lengthy Minimum Parole Requirements: A Denial Of Hope, Heather Walker

Brigham Young University Prelaw Review

Using the Eighth Amendment, which prohibits cruel and unusual punishment, the Supreme Court has made sweeping changes to juvenile sentencing in the last fifteen years. The Court has stated that mandatory life sentences without the possibility of parole and life sentences without the possibility of parole for non-homicide offenders are unconstitutional. Nevertheless, there are still unanswered questions in juvenile sentencing. One under-researched aspect of this is the role that lengthy minimum parole requirements play in the constitutionality of juvenile sentencing. This type of sentencing lacks express legislative support, it does not have a legitimate penological justification, and it denies juveniles …


Giving Due Process Its Due: Why Deliberate Indifference Should Be Confined To Claims Arising Under The Cruel And Unusual Punishment Clause, Shad M. Brown Apr 2021

Giving Due Process Its Due: Why Deliberate Indifference Should Be Confined To Claims Arising Under The Cruel And Unusual Punishment Clause, Shad M. Brown

Washington and Lee Journal of Civil Rights and Social Justice

This Note discusses culpability requirements for claims brought by pretrial detainees and convicted prisoners. The initial focus is on deliberate indifference, a culpability requirement formulated under the Cruel and Unusual Punishment Clause but symmetrically applied to claims arising under the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. The Note then shifts to Kingsley v. Hendrickson, a landmark Supreme Court decision that casts doubt on the application of Eighth-Amendment standards to Fourteenth-Amendment claims. Finally, this Note advocates for the application of objective unreasonableness, a different culpability requirement, to claims arising under the Due Process Clause. It does so on the …


Handle With Care: Constitutional Standards For Information Sharing In Medical-Correctional Transition, Andrew R. Hayes Mar 2021

Handle With Care: Constitutional Standards For Information Sharing In Medical-Correctional Transition, Andrew R. Hayes

Duke Journal of Constitutional Law & Public Policy Sidebar

Correctional institutions have an Eighth Amendment obligation to provide healthcare to inmates. In practice though, jails and prisons struggle to provide adequate care to millions of incarcerated individuals, roughly half of whom have at least one chronic health condition. As a result, harsh conditions of confinement routinely threaten the health of inmates who require specific medical accommodations. Recognizing this risk, the courts hold corrections institutions liable for harm when government officials are “deliberately indifferent” to prisoner medical needs.

Beginning with the HITECH Act of 2009, mainstream medicine embraced tools that eliminate gaps in medical communication. Today, most Americans rely on …


Rethinking The Reasonable Response: Safeguarding The Promise Of Kingsley For Conditions Of Confinement, Hanna Rutkowski Feb 2021

Rethinking The Reasonable Response: Safeguarding The Promise Of Kingsley For Conditions Of Confinement, Hanna Rutkowski

Michigan Law Review

Nearly five million individuals are admitted to America’s jails each year, and at any given time, two-thirds of those held in jail have not been convicted of a crime. Under current Supreme Court doctrine, these pretrial detainees are functionally protected by the same standard as convicted prisoners, despite the fact that they are formally protected by different constitutional amendments. A 2015 decision, Kingsley v. Hendrickson, declared that a different standard would apply to pretrial detainees and convicted prisoners in the context of use of force: consistent with the Constitution’s mandate that they not be punished at all, pretrial detainees …


Transgender Rights & The Eighth Amendment, Jennifer Levi, Kevin M. Barry Jan 2021

Transgender Rights & The Eighth Amendment, Jennifer Levi, Kevin M. Barry

Faculty Scholarship

The past decades have witnessed a dramatic shift in the visibility, acceptance, and integration of transgender people across all aspects of culture and the law. The treatment of incarcerated transgender people is no exception. Historically, transgender people have been routinely denied access to medically necessary hormone therapy, surgery, and other gender-affirming procedures; subjected to cross-gender strip searches; and housed according to their birth sex. But these policies and practices have begun to change. State departments of corrections are now providing some, though by no means all, appropriate care to transgender people, culminating in the Ninth Circuit’s historic decision in Edmo …


Covid-19, Courts, And The 'Realities Of Prison Administration.' Part Ii: The Realities Of Litigation, Chad Flanders Jan 2021

Covid-19, Courts, And The 'Realities Of Prison Administration.' Part Ii: The Realities Of Litigation, Chad Flanders

All Faculty Scholarship

Lawsuits challenging prisons and jails for not doing enough to stop the spread of COVID-19 among inmates have faced mixed results in the courts: wins at the district court level are almost always followed by losses (in the form of stays of any orders to improve conditions) at the appeals court level or at the Supreme Court. This short article tries to explain why this is happening, and makes three comparisons between how district courts and appeals courts have analyzed these lawsuits. First, district courts and appeals courts tend to emphasize different facts in their decisions. District courts focus more …


Memory, Moral Reasoning, And Madison V. Alabama, Elias Feldman Jan 2021

Memory, Moral Reasoning, And Madison V. Alabama, Elias Feldman

Touro Law Review

No abstract provided.


That Is Enough Punishment: Situating Defunding The Police Within Antiracist Sentencing Reform, Jalila Jefferson-Bullock, Jelani Jefferson Exum Jan 2021

That Is Enough Punishment: Situating Defunding The Police Within Antiracist Sentencing Reform, Jalila Jefferson-Bullock, Jelani Jefferson Exum

Faculty Publications

(Excerpt)

During the summer of 2020, the police killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and others created a movement that unearthed a reality that Black people in the United States have always been aware of: systemic racism, in the form of police brutality, is alive and well. While the blatant brutality of George Floyd’s murder at the hands of police is the flame, the spark was ignited long ago. One need only review the record of recent years — the killings of Eric Garner, Michael Brown, Tamir Rice, Antwon Rose, Alton Sterling, Philando Castile, Breonna Taylor, and countless other souls …