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Abstract

This Note explores the conflict over whether a prisoner must suffer more than de minimis injury to sustain an Eighth Amendment excessive force claim. It examines this conflict against the backdrop of the various standards the U.S. Supreme Court adopted in its Eighth Amendment prison conditions jurisprudence between 1976 and 1992, principally focusing on the 1992 Hudson v. McMillian decision. Moreover, this Note considers the intersection of “the evolving standards of decency,” the “hands-off doctrine,” and the Eighth Amendment injury requirement. Ultimately, this Note advocates that excessive force—when meted out as punishment—violates the Eighth Amendment’s prohibition on cruel and unusual punishment regardless of whether a prisoner’s injuries are more than de minimis.

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