Cruel and Unusual punishment is any inhuman act that contravenes basic human rights. Therefore, the test to determine whether the punishments are cruel or unusual should show how they undermine human dignity. For the conditions to be considered cruel and inhumane, we should assess if the conditions contravene basic human rights. We should remember that prisoners are also human, and their basic human rights must be upheld.
Deliberate indifference is a conscious disregard of a person’s acts or omissions that would result to harm. In Law, the deliberate indifference standard is applied to establish if a professional has contravened the rights of a particular prisoner (Amy Newman, Eighth Amendment–Cruel and Unusual Punishment and Conditions Cases, JCLC. Rev. 979, 988 (1992)). Though it is challenging to identify what constitutes deliberate indifference, the courts have recognized scenarios where there is deliberate indifference. For instance, declining to take action on an inmate’s grievance is an act of deliberate indifference.
It is unconstitutional to confine a prisoner to a four-by-six-foot cell. The cells are usually poorly ventilated, raising the temperature, making it uncomfortable for the prisoner to stay in that cell. In fact, the four-by-six-foot cell means that the prisoner’s movement is very limited.
Keeping an inmate who smokes and a non-smoker in the same cell is not advisable because passive smoking causes more health complications. The cells are usually poorly ventilated, and the airflow is limited because there is no air conditioning. Therefore, this poses a great health risk to the non-smoker (Sharon Dolovich, Cruelty, Prison Conditions, and the Eighth Amendment, 84 NYU L. Rev. 895, 962 (2009)). In essence, keeping a smoker and a non-smoker in the same cell is unconstitutional.
The prison temperatures should be kept at 55 degrees. In this aspect, the low temperatures are maintained, removing the humidity and airborne germs. Therefore, it is advisable to maintain the temperature of 55 degrees because the condition enhances the prisoners’ health by ensuring that they do not contract airborne diseases (Sharon Dolovich, Cruelty, Prison Conditions, and the Eighth Amendment, 84 NYU L. Rev. 895, 962 (2009)). On the other hand, exposure to low temperatures may compromise the prisoners’ health. Even though the cool air kills disease-causing germs, it also causes serious health complications such as pneumonia, a health condition brought by breathing cold air for a long time.
Amy Newman, Eighth Amendment–Cruel and Unusual Punishment and Conditions Cases, JCLC. Rev. 979, 988 (1992).
Sharon Dolovich, Cruelty, Prison Conditions, and the Eighth Amendment, 84 NYU L. Rev. 895, 962 (2009).