Pervear v. Massachusetts

Case Date: 07/13/1866

Pervear v. Massachusetts, 72 U.S. (5 Wall.) 475 (1866) was a case brought before the United States Supreme Court in 1866 over the issue of prisoners' rights. The court ruled that prisoners have no constitutional rights, not even Eighth Amendment rights. This was the first case stating the "hands off" policy that allowed states to run their prisons without federal interference. The application of the Bill of Rights to state action did not come until later and then only in part.[1] At that time in history, the Bill of Rights was seen as a bar to federal interference with state actions, and therefore a means of ensuring federal restraint.[2]