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NCJ Number: 99107 Find in a Library
Title: Parameters of Cruelty - Application of Estelle v Gamble to Sentences Imposed Upon the Physically Fragile Offender
Journal: American Journal of Criminal Law  Volume:12  Issue:3  Dated:(November 1984)  Pages:279-325
Author(s): S W Brenner
Date Published: 1984
Page Count: 47
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This article considers whether imprisonment of the physically fragile offender, for whom incarceration may mean agony and possible death, constitutes cruel and unusual punishment within the context of case law concerning eighth amendment requirements for inmate medical treatment.
Abstract: In Estelle v. Gamble, the Fifth District Court held that deliberate indifference to the serious medical needs of inmates constitutes unnecessary and wanton infliction of pain, but the decision did not specifically address the special needs of the fragile offender. In Furman v. Georgia, the U.S. Supreme Court delineated four reasons for deeming a punishment cruel and unusual, two of which have applicability: that the punishment involves so much physical suffering and pain that civilized people cannot tolerate it and that it is excessive and serves no valid legislative purpose. In the case of the fragile offender, the suffering imposed by the sentence is disproportionate to the crime. While legislated penalities presumably are calculated on the basis of harm and public opprobrium, the calculations are concerned with the offender of average health and do not include a consideration of the special frailties of the fragile offender. Further, of the possible legislative purposes to be served by imprisonment, only retribution is applicable. This purpose alone is insufficient to warrant imposition of the punishment. For these reasons, incarceration of such offenders is better supplanted by alternatives. Such alternatives would have the virtue of deterring fragile offenders from repetitive criminal acts and could serve rehabilitative ends without imposing the unnecessary punishment of incarceration. A total of 294 footnotes are included.
Index Term(s): Cruel and unusual punishment; Inmate treatment; Juvenile justice reform; Persons with physical disabilities; Prisoner's rights; US Supreme Court decisions
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