Issue: UNDER THE FEDERAL PRISON LITIGATION REFORM ACT (‘PLRA’) MAY PRE-TRIAL DETAINEES BE SUBJECT TO ‘PUNISHMENT’?
|Area of Law:||Constitutional Law, Litigation & Procedure|
|Keywords:||Pre-trial detainees; Punish; Due process violation|
|Cited Cases:||449 U.S. 1312|
Research indicates that no litigation regarding the difference between pre-trial detainees and convicts under the Act has been reported. It is settled law that it is a due process violation to "punish" pre-trial detainees. See, e.g., United States v. Salerno, 481 U.S. 739, 746-47 (1987). As Justice Rehnquist explained in Atiyeh v. Capps, 449 U.S. 1312 (1981), "a pretrial detainee, presumably detained on probable cause but not yet having been found guilty as charged under our constitutional procedures, cannot be ‘punished’ at all."
The court in Fuentes v. Wagner, 206 F.3d 335 (3d Cir. 2000), explained the differences at length, and
clarified the legal status of convicted, but unsentenced, inmates . . . . The trial judge, in fashioning relief, drew a distinction between pretrial detainees and convicted but unsentenced inmates. He concluded that "the conviction alone appears to extinguish any ‘liberty’ interest formally derived from the fourteenth amendment." We disagree. The right to remain at liberty continues until a court pronounces a judgment of sentence, although after a jury has pronounced a guilty verdict the court may insist upon greater assurance that a defendant will submit to sentence. Given Fuentes’ status as a pretrial detainee under the Fourteenth Amendment, he has federally protected liberty interests that are different in kind from those of sentenced inmates. Unlike sentenced prisoners, who . . . must look to state law for the protection of their personal liberties, pre‑trial detainees have liberty interests firmly grounded in federal constitutional law.
206 F.3d […]