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NCJ Number: 155001 Find in a Library
Title: Constitutional Law: Eighth Amendment: Involuntary Exposure to Second-Hand Smoke in Prison Supports a Valid Cruel and Unusual Punishment Claim If the Risk to One's Health Is Unreasonable and Prison Officials Are Indifferent to That Risk: Helling v. McKinney, 113 S. Ct. 2475 (1993)
Journal: Seton Hall Law Review  Volume:25  Issue:1  Dated:(1994)  Pages:314-352
Author(s): L H Schwartzman
Date Published: 1994
Page Count: 39
Type: Legislation/Policy Analysis
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This report details the background and constitutional issues involved in a 1993 U.S. Supreme Court decision regarding whether an inmate's involuntary exposure to second- hand smoke might represent cruel and unusual punishment.
Abstract: William McKinney, a prisoner in the Nevada State prison system, bunked with an inmate who smoked five packs of cigarettes a day. In addition to the situation in his cell, McKinney received almost constant smoke exposure because prison rules lacked a formal smoking policy. According to McKinney, this exposure caused him immediate maladies and jeopardized his health. In addition, his repeated requests for single housing or a nonsmoking cellmate were futile. In December 1986, McKinney filed a pro se complaint in Federal court alleging civil rights violations. The Ninth Circuit and Supreme Court agreed with the magistrate's directed verdict while holding that a prisoner can state an Eighth Amendment claim based on the future detrimental health effects resulting from environmental tobacco smoke exposure. After surveying the relevant case law, the Court stated that protecting inmates from future harm was not a novel idea. The Court's holding recognizes that despite the animosity often felt toward criminals, society must focus on the goal of preserving human dignity, thereby not extending Eighth Amendment jurisprudence but simply recognizing another appropriate application of the Amendment. Footnotes
Main Term(s): Corrections management
Index Term(s): Cruel and unusual punishment; Environmental quality; Inmate health; Inmate lawsuits; Prisoner's rights; Tobacco use
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