The world apparently is aware of only half the dangers of jail showers. Mr. Flandro, a former inmate of the Salt Lake County Jails, brought a shower-related lawsuit against a Utah jail. In his suit, Mr. Flandro claimed that the jail showers violated his 8th Amendment rights because they were so dangerous that they amounted to cruel and unusual punishment. And what, according to Mr. Flandro, was so bad about the jail showers? The slippery floors.
Mr. Flandro argued that “the jail’s shower floor became slippery due to the mixture of shampoo, soap, and water.” The court, however, didn’t buy Mr. Flandro’s argument, observing that “[s]lippery shower floors constitute a daily risk faced by the public at large.”
Compare Mr. Flandro’s case to that of Mr. Hudson, who was handcuffed, shackled, and beaten by three prison guards. The case went all the way to the Supreme Court. As stated by the Court:
At the time of the incident that is the subject of this suit, petitioner Keith Hudson was an inmate at the state penitentiary in Angola, Louisiana. Respondents Jack McMillian, Marvin Woods, and Arthur Mezo served as corrections security officers at the Angola facility. During the early morning hours of October 30,1983, Hudson and McMillian argued. Assisted by Woods, McMillian then placed Hudson in handcuffs and shackles, took the prisoner out of his cell, and walked him toward the penitentiary’s “administrative lockdown” area. Hudson testified that, on the way there, McMillian punched Hudson in the mouth, eyes, chest, and stomach while Woods held the inmate in place and kicked and punched him from behind. He further testified that Mezo, the supervisor on duty, watched the beating but merely told the officers “not to have too much fun.” App. 23. As a result of this episode, Hudson suffered minor bruises and swelling of his face, mouth, and lip. The blows also loosened Hudson’s teeth and cracked his partial dental plate, rendering it unusable for several months.
Seven of the nine Justices agreed that this may constitute cruel and unusual punishment. Not prison guard favorites Justices Thomas and Scalia, though. They basically argued that beating the crap out of a handcuffed inmate was not cruel and unusual!
Mr. Flandro’s case is Flandro v. Salt Lake County, 53 Fed. Appx. 499 (10th Cir. 2002).