The Eighth Amendment prohibits the infliction of cruel and unusual punishment. In Hudson v. McMillian, 112 S. Ct. 995 (1992), the Supreme Court held that the use of excessive physical force against a prison inmate may violate the Eighth Amendment even where the prisoner does not suffer serious injury. Yet, the Court also held that the Eighth Amendment is violated only when the guard employs force “maliciously and sadistically for the very purpose of causing harm,” adopting the standard of Whitley v. Albers, 475 U.S. 312 (1986).
Was the Hudson Court correct in expanding the Whitley standard to non-riot situations? Was the dissent correct in asserting that excessive force against a prisoner which only results in insignificant harm is not a constitutional violation? Will Hudson help or hurt a prisoner alleging the infliction of cruel and unusual punishment?
Beginning Sources (not in bluebook form):
Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97 (1976)
16 Stetson Law Review 385