Crime and Punishment in America

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The prisoners' rights movement profoundly changed prison life.  Do you agree or disagree with all or most of the court rulings concerning the constitutional rights of inmates? 

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There have, of course, been many court cases that have had an impact on the rights of prisoners.  I generally agree with many of them, though it is impossible to provide much of a discussion of all of these cases.  Let us look at two important cases that I definitely agree with.

One of these cases was the case of Estelle v. Gamble, which was decided in 1976.  In this case, the Court ruled that officials cannot ignore prisoners’ medical needs without running afoul of the 8th Amendment.  This amendment prohibits cruel and unusual punishment.  The Court ruled that an official that willfully ignores a prisoner’s medical needs is punishing them in a cruel way.  I totally agree with this.  A prisoner is sentenced to prison, not to suffer from illness without any access to medical treatment.

A second case is Cutter vs. Wilkinson, decided in 2005.  In this case, the Court severely limited the ability of prisons to curtail religious freedoms on the grounds of needing to maintain order in their prisons.  The Court said that prisons had to have compelling reasons to limit religious freedom.  Again, I agree with this ruling.  Religious freedom is such a fundamental right that the government should not be able to infringe upon it unless it is absolutely necessary to do so.

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