Many people know that people who are convicted of crimes can’t receive cruel or unusual punishments. What many people don’t fully understand is what this actually means. There are some points that you should realize if you are facing a criminal trial or if you have already been convicted.

Cruel and unusual punishment is forbidden by the Eight Amendment of the United States Constitution. This amendment doesn’t specify what is cruel or unusual, so it has been left up to the high courts of the land to make this determination.

One of the interpretations is that inmates must have their fundamental rights preserved even though they are incarcerated. These rights vary greatly, but there are some examples that have been provided by the courts through rulings and opinions.

Inmates can’t be housed in inhumane conditions, which was something noted in a 1995 ruling in Massachusetts. The federal court noted that inmates who were housed in a facility without toilets and that was full of fire hazards and vermin had their rights violated by those conditions.

Another condition that falls under the Eighth Amendments protection regarding cruel and unusual punishment is excessive force from correctional officers. These claims can come from many situations but there are certain things, such as the need to restore order in the prison, that must be considered when you are trying to make those claims.

It is understandable that inmates might feel frustrated about their conditions. Carefully considering the circumstances they are in and weighing them against the rulings and opinions already made might help to determine what course of action is appropriate.

Source: FindLaw, “Cruel and Unusual Punishment,” accessed Dec. 01, 2017