Rights of Pretrial Detainees. Pretrial detainees retain at least those constitutional rights that are enjoyed by convicted prisoners. The Due Process Clause prohibits punishment of pretrial detainees and protects them from excessive force that amounts to punishment. To determine whether a particular restriction imposed on a pretrial detainee comports with due process, a court must determine whether the restriction is punitive or reasonably related to a legitimate, nonpunitive governmental purpose. Courts should typically defer to prison officials when determining whether a particular regulation is reasonably related to a legitimate interest other than punishment. The Supreme Court has held that neither blanket prohibitions on contact visits for pretrial detainees nor routine visual body-cavity searches after contact visits violate the Constitution. Furthermore, neither double-celling nor random “shakedown” searches of detainees' cells violate due process. Finally, a pretrial detainee cannot be forcibly administered anti-psychotic drugs unless the drugs are medically appropriate, important, and necessary.

The Due Process Clause, however, imposes affirmative obligations on the state in the medical treatment of pretrial detainees. In City of Revere v. Massachusetts General Hospital, the Supreme Court held that pretrial detainees must receive medical care that meets the standard to which prisoners are entitled. Yet administration of inadequate medical treatment by poorly trained officials only violates due process if the inadequate treatment is the result of “deliberate indifference.” Deliberate indifference also results in a due process violation when officials fail to protect a detainee from harm inflicted by other inmates. Because there is no general requirement to evaluate detainees for suicidal risk, due process is violated only if there is deliberate indifference towards that risk.

Circuit courts are divided as to whether the rights guaranteed to pretrial detainees also extend to convicted inmates awaiting sentencing.

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