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LA Prison Conditions Held Unconstitutional

In 1973, Hayes Williams and three other Louisiana state prisoners filed suit in federal district court claiming that the Angola prison was being run in violation of the prohibition of cruel and unusual punishment in the 8th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. The allegations included prison staff’s failure to prevent rape, failure to provide an adequate number of guards, failure to provide adequate medical care, and prison overcrowding. The district court found for the prisoners, and the prison appealed.

On appeal, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit upheld the district court in all respects except a part of its order requiring Angola to employ 950 guards within six months of the district court’s order. The 5th Circuit remanded the case for the district court to take more evidence regarding the number of guards that would need to be employed. See: Williams v. Edwards, 547 F. 2d 1206 (1977).

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