Prisoners' Rights issue image

Kingsley v. Hendrickson

Court Type: U.S. Supreme Court
Status: Closed (Judgment)
Last Update: March 11, 2015

What's at Stake

Whether the Constitution protects pretrial detainees against the unreasonable use of force regardless of the subjective motivation of the guards using that force.

Pretrial detainees cannot be punished because they have not been convicted. The question in this case is whether that principle protects pretrial detainees against the use of force that is objectively unreasonable, or whether they must also prove malicious intent. Supporting the objective rule, the ACLU’s amicus brief highlights two important facts to put the legal issue in context. First, many pretrial detainees are in jail simply because they are poor, and those pretrial detainees are disproportionately people of color. Second, there is a severe, under-reported, and still largely unresolved problem of excessive force in our nation’s jails.

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