409 U.S. 934 (1972)

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U.S. Supreme Court

MCLAMORE v. SOUTH CAROLINA , 409 U.S. 934 (1972)

409 U.S. 934

No. 71-6489.

Supreme Court of the United States

October 16, 1972

On petition for writ of certiorari to the Supreme Court of South carolina.

The petition for a writ of certiorari is denied.

Mr. Justice DOUGLAS, dissenting.

I vote to hear this case because of the importance of the question raised.

A prisoner sentenced in the State of South Carolina, in any case in which confinement is the punishment, can be sent: (1) to a county to work on its chain gang (if the county maintains one) (2) or in the alternative to the Department of Corrections and then to the local jail

Page 409 U.S. 934 , 935

or state penitentiary. [Footnote 1] Under the statute, an elected official, the County Supervisor, makes the choice. There are no statutory criteria for him by which he is to make his choice.

Petitioner was sentenced under 17-554 and assigned to the chain gang of Richland County, South Carolina. Under the Post Conviction Relief Statute of South Carolina he sought review of two questions: (1) whether the chain gang was cruel and unusual punishment prohibited by the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments? (2) whether the sending of certain prisoners to the penitentiary where some rehabilitative services are available and others to the chain gang where none exists is a denial of equal protection of the law under the Fourteenth Amendment.

On April 28, 1971, the relief in both areas was denied and the decision was affirmed by the Supreme Court of South Carolina, 257 S.C. 413, 186 S.E.2d 250 (1972). The case is here on certiorari.

The delineation of just what conditions constitute cruel and unusual punishment is not well defined. But we know from Weems v. United States, 217 U.S. 349 (1910), that the concept is not rigid but progressive; that it acquires meaning as the public becomes enlightened. [409 U.S. 934 , 936]

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