Unlocking the Federal Constitutional Prison: Involuntary Medication of Washington State’s Prisoners

Eric Clayton Frimodt, Unlocking the Federal Constitutional Prison: Involuntary Medication of Washington State’s Prisoners, 26 Gonz. L. Rev. 211 (1990).

 

In Washington v. Harper, 1 the United States Supreme Court reversed a unanimous ruling by the Washington Supreme Court and held that the due process clause of the fourteenth amendment does not require a judicial hearing before a mentally ill prisoner may be involuntarily medicated. Even though the United States Supreme Court has rendered this decision, the issue of involuntary medication of prisoners has yet to be definitively addressed in the context of the Washington State Constitution.

Supreme Court Justice William J. Brennan, writing on the issue of state constitutional activity, stated:

Of late more and more state courts are construing state constitutional counterparts of provisions of the Bill of Rights as guaranteeing citizens of their states even more protection than the federal provisions, even those identically phrased. This is surely an important and highly significant development for our constitutional jurisprudence and for our concept of federalism. . .

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