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Ingraham et al. v. Wright et al.

Cruel And Unusual Punishment?

Ingraham and Andrews filed suit against their principal, the others in the principal's office who had helped punish them, and the superintendent of Dade County schools. They were filing not just for themselves, but also as a class action on behalf of all Dade County students. They claimed that the type of corporal punishment common at their school deprived them of their rights under the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments of the Constitution.

The Eighth Amendment forbids "cruel and unusual punishment." The Fourteenth Amendment guarantees everyone "due process" before being deprived of life, liberty, or property. In this case, the students claimed that since their punishment had deprived them of their liberty, they had been entitled to a hearing or some other procedure before they were punished.

The case eventually made it to the Supreme Court, which was sharply divided on this issue. A majority of five denied the boys' suit, finding that corporal punishment, even of the severe type that the boys had suffered, does not constitute "cruel and unusual punishment." Nor did the majority believe that students were entitled to a hearing before corporal punishment was administered. A minority of four strongly dissented.

Additional topics

Law Library - American Law and Legal InformationNotable Trials and Court Cases - 1973 to 1980Ingraham et al. v. Wright et al. - Significance, Cruel And Unusual Punishment?, "the Openness Of The School Environment", "punishments So Barbaric And Inhumane"