Eighth Amendment
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My client’s Eighth Amendment rights were violated when the warden decided to impose such punishments upon him. Johnny has been a model prisoner for twenty years and was not in any way involved in the conflict that instigated reprisals upon all prisoners. A certain level of decency is expected in the treatment of prisoners within prison facilities, as a result of the rights granted by the Eighth Amendment. The barring of prisoners from reading materials and visitations for one year while under solitary confinement is clearly cruel and usual punishment. The case of Solem v. Helm held that such punishments are unconstitutional, when disproportionate to the crime (Solem v. Helm, n.d.). My client had no prior convictions, but committed a crime of passion in a highly emotional state, resulting in a punishment of life without parole. This punishment did not include the imposition of methods during incarceration that could cause severe mental anguish and anxiety. The warden went beyond the scope of their authority and unjustly punished my client, as well as other prisoners, for a crime they did not commit. The fact that this blanket punishment included all violent prisoners, regardless of their record of good behavior, is disproportionate to the violent altercation that took place. Trop v. Dulles established that what is considered cruel and unusual may change over time, to be in line with modern society’s sense of decency (Trop v. Dulles, n.d.). To hold an individual in a room in solitude, with no interaction with other human beings, and no way to meaningfully occupy one’s time, is a cruel punishment to impose on any person. The mental trauma caused by the warden to my client is undeserved and must be recognized.
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