Modesto, CA asked in DUI / DWI for California

Q: How long may a person be held in jail without being provided with food or a bed?

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1 Lawyer Answer
Ramona Rae Hallam
Ramona Rae Hallam
  • DUI & DWI Lawyer
  • Encinitas, CA
  • Licensed in California

A: While there are cases involving cruel and unusual punishment, the standard changes with the circumstances. Your question fails to provide enough facts to analyze well. Factors to be considered would be the jail's need to facilitate safe conditions, the prisoner's need for sleep at the time, etc. In Wilson v. Seiter, 111 S. Ct. 2321 (1991), the Supreme court adopted a two part test for Eighth Amendment challenges to conditions of confinement. The test consists of an objective component (was the deprivation sufficiently serious?), and a subjective component (were the prison officials deliberately indifferent to the conditions?). Often the circumstances may justify the deprivation. For instance, if you look online you may find a story where one jail has kept mentally ill persons in 3 x 3 cages if they were a danger to themselves or others. Prisoners suffer a significant reduction in rights due to the police's desire to control them. In short, if your lack of a bed happened for 12 hours during a jail hold for drunk in public, it would be much different than if it happened for 3 months while you were held without booking or arraignment, or some such thing.

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