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Indifference To Prisoner’s Medical Needs Is ‘Cruel And Unusual’


In Estelle v. Gamble, the U.S. Supreme Court rules that prison officials’ “willful indifference” (knowledge about a problem and failure to take action) to the serious medical needs of a prisoner is “cruel and unusual” punishment in violation of the Eighth Amendment. The Court again says that the Eighth Amendment protects against more than just “physically barbarous punishments” such as torture. Its protections also include civilized standards, humanity, and decency.