Jackson v. Bishop

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Jackson v. Bishop was a case decided in 1968 on the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals of the United States by then-judge Harry Blackmun. It abolished corporal punishment in the Arkansas prison system.[1]


The issue in the case was how to apply the Eighth Amendment's prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment to the conditions within a prison.[2]


Arkansas rules authorized prison officials to beat inmates with a five-foot leather strap known as a "bull hide."[3] An earlier suit had resulted in a decision permitting the use of the strap, provided that "appropriate safeguards" were in place.[4]

Blackmun's writings[edit]

Few precedents had existed for applying the Eighth Amendment to prison conditions.[5] In pre-opinion writings, Blackmun wrote that constitutional standards evolve, as opposed to remaining static; he noted that nearly every state had abandoned corporal punishment in prison.[6] Blackmun supported banning corporal punishment in prisons entirely.[7]


Blackmun held that use of the strap in question is punishment that "runs afoul" of the Eighth Amendment.[8] He wrote that "any so-called safeguard is entirely unworkable" and that the strap "is abhorrent to public opinion."[9]


Blackmun's opinion received favorable notice from both the judicial and public community.[10]


  1. ^ Jackson v. Bishop, 404 F. 2d 571 - Court of Appeals, 8th Circuit 1968.
  2. ^ Greenhouse, Linda. Becoming Justice Blackmun. Times Books. 2005. Page 30.
  3. ^ Greenhouse, Page 30.
  4. ^ Greenhouse, Pages 30-31.
  5. ^ Greenhouse, Page 31.
  6. ^ Greenhouse, Page 31.
  7. ^ Greenhouse, Page 31.
  8. ^ Greenhouse, Page 31.
  9. ^ Greenhouse, Page 31.
  10. ^ Greenhouse, Page 31.