The Constitution prohibits the cruel and unusual punishment of inmates and detainees. Accordingly, when prison conditions fall below a humane level due to acts or omissions by prison officials, the prison may be found in violation of the Eighth Amendment, the Cruel and Unusual Punishment Clause, against an inmate or the Fourteenth Amendment, the Due Process Clause, against a pre-trial detainee (hereinafter detainee).
Specifically, the assertion of such claims regarding poor prison conditions raises the question of how prisons, and thus the courts, are approaching the novel health risks and administrative challenges posed by a global Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic in which the virus is causing contagion, sickness, and unfortunately death.
Josh Slovin, Casenote, Prisoner Exposure to a Pandemic: Measuring When Institutional Response Rises to Punishment, 72 Mercer L. Rev. 1431 (2021), https://digitalcommons.law.mercer.edu/jour_mlr/vol72/iss5/6/.