In the current world that is rapidly changing, the need for efficient management in prisons as well as other similar institutions is becoming greater. An effective prison management has been linked, both in practice and in theory, to sustainable economic development. In addition, effective prison management is credited as the key to the development of modern prison principles and systems. There have emerged various individuals as well as criminal rights groups asking for a complete overhaul of the current prison management systems to pave way for new systems. These individuals have also been calling for various changes to be instituted in the prison management system as depicted by various courts cases that have been decided by the Supreme Court in regards to the current prisons state of affairs. Some of the issues regarding prison management that come into the limelight from the court cases include prison overcrowding, insufficient healthcare provision, lack of sufficient rehabilitation programs, harsh conditions, long detention periods before trials amongst others. Below are examples of such Supreme Court cases
Brown vs. Plata 09-1233 (2011)
This was a court case that was decided in 2011. It was a class action suit that alleged prisoner’s rights violation due to lack of both mental and medical care. The prisons of California are essentially designed to house about 80, 00 prisoners in total. However, at the time of filing this suit at the Supreme Court, the total population of inmates in California was almost double that figure. The plaintiffs in this case filed a lawsuit before the court with the claim that the medical services offered by California state’s Department of Correction and Rehabilitation were hugely inadequate due to severe overcrowding which a violation of the constitution’s eight amendment that prohibits unusual and cruel punishment.
The question raised before the Supreme Court was whether the court should order the release of some prisoners to reduce overcrowding in California prisons. After an extensive process with a lot of testimonies as well as evidence, a final decision was made. The three judges in the case did not order the release of excess prisoners like the plaintiffs had been pushing for. The judges requested that the state prove a well laid out plan for the construction of new prison facilities to reduce the overcrowded population to about 137.5% of the entire prison design capacity in a period of two years. This would essentially mean the release of about 38000 to 4600 inmates..
Wilkinson vs. Austin -04-495 (2005)
This Supreme Court case took place in 2005. The Ohio State Penitentiary was a super-maximum security prison in the state of Ohio that was far more restrictive than other prisons in the state. The state had an undefined and inconsistent system of assigning inmate to prisons. Some felt that the whole practice was unfair and some prisoners did not warrant to be kept at the super maximum prison. Austin, an inmate at the SuperMax prison sued the state in regards to this claiming that he and other prisoners had liberty interest when it came to being assigned to the maximum-security prison. Austin and the other prisoners claimed that they were, therefore, supposed to be subject to a credible procedural due process as provided by the nation’s constitution in the 14th amendment. An Ohio district court initially agreed with the prisoners but when an appeal was lodged at the Supreme Court, the decision was reversed. The Supreme Court established that the 14th amendment does not essentially guarantee that inmates are not to be placed in confinements that are more restrictive. The court first agreed that the significant and atypical hardship within a correctional context essentially gives prisoners liberty interest as the plaintiffs had claimed. The court then performed a comprehensive analysis of Ohio’s procedural due process of assigning prisoners to the more restrictive prisons to determine if they satisfied the constitutionally due process mandated by the liberty interest. After much deliberation, a decision was reached that the current procedures in Ohio indeed satisfied all the constitutional requirements of the due process.
Estelle vs. Gamble - 429 U.S. 97 (1976)
This was a court case whereby a prisoner, Gamble sued the Texas of Corrections for failure to provide him with adequate medical care in prison. Gamble was a prisoner who had been assigned labor duty and injured his back in the course of his performance his assignments. He complained of chest and back pains but was not provided with medical care and was indeed segregated for supposedly for refusing work. He claimed that he was the subject of unusual and cruel punishment, which is in itself a violation of the constitution’s Eight Amendment. The District court initially dismissed his complaint but a different decision was reached at the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court found the failure to receive adequate medical care by the prisoner as inadvertent. The court established that a prisoner must allege omissions or acts that are sufficiently harmful; enough to evidence a deliberate indifference to medical needs that are serious. Although the plaintiff’s complaint was credited because prison doctors had failed to provide him with the required care, the medical practice did not constitute “cruel or usual punishment because the complainant was in the first place a prisoner
As seen, from the three cases above, various aspects of prison management have been brought before the nation’s Supreme Court. These aspects range overcrowding in prisons, assignment of prisoners to various prisoners and even the provision of medical care to the prisoners. One implication from all the analyzed cases is that there is still a lot that needs to be done for effective prison management to be achieved in the nation.
Brown v. Plata - 09-1233 (2011):: Justia US Supreme Court Center. (2014). Retrieved May 21, 2014, from http://supreme.justia.com/cases/federal/us/563/09-1233/opinion.html
Estelle v. Gamble - 429 U.S. 97 (1976):: Justia US Supreme Court Center. (2014). Retrieved May 18, 2014, from https://supreme.justia.com/cases/federal/us/429/97/case.html
Wilkinson v. Austin - 04-495 (2005):: Justia US Supreme Court Center. (2014). Retrieved May 21, 2014, from http://supreme.justia.com/cases/federal/us/545/04-495/