arguments must eventually be reached. Abstention cannot here
serve its central function.
III. THE SUFFICIENCY OF THE ALLEGATIONS
The Eighth Amendment places several limits on state power. It
outlaws all criminal punishments that "involve the unnecessary
and wanton infliction of pain." Gregg v. Georgia, 428 U.S. 153,
173, 96 S.Ct. 2909, 2925, 49 L.Ed.2d 859 (1976) (joint opinion).
Similarly, it bars criminal penalties that are grossly
disproportionate to the severity of the crime committed. Coker v.
Georgia, 433 U.S. 584, 592, 97 S.Ct. 2861, 2866, 53 L.Ed.2d 982
(1977) (plurality opinion). It substantively limits as well the
power of the state to deem certain transactions criminal.
Robinson v. California, 370 U.S. 660, 82 S.Ct. 1417, 8 L.Ed.2d
758 (1962). Plaintiffs here primarily invoke the first strand of
A. The Requirement of "Pain"
In order to prevail on a claim of "unnecessary and wanton
infliction of pain," plaintiff-prisoners must first establish
that they have suffered "pain" within the meaning of the Eighth
Amendment. Rhodes v. Chapman, 452 U.S. 337, 347, 101 S.Ct. 2392,
2399, 69 L.Ed.2d 59 (1981). Prisoners must do more, for example,
than merely allege that they have been denied access to
rehabilitative programs. Id. Allegations that serious medical
needs have gone unattended are, on the other hand, clearly
sufficient. Estelle v. Gamble, supra, 429 U.S. at 104, 97 S.Ct.
at 291. As defendants concede, Estelle makes clear that "pain" is
present whenever an inmate is forced to bear the untreated
consequences of a serious medical problem. In that case the Court
dealt with a prisoner's claim that he had been denied treatment
for a physical — rather than a mental — disability. In line with
previous lower court decisions, the Court held that "the denial
of medical care is cruel and unusual because, in the worst case,
it can result in physical torture, and, even in less serious
cases, it can result in pain without any penological purpose."
Rhodes v. Chapman, supra, 101 S.Ct. at 2399. Defendants can thus
only argue that Estelle should be confined strictly to its facts,
that only physical, and not mental, health care constitutes
"medical care" within the meaning of the decision. This argument
I find impersuasive, for I can deduce no reason in logic or
policy for treating mental and physical afflictions so
Mental illness, like physical illness, occasions pain
and suffering in the afflicted. The refusal to treat,
in combination with the state's conduct in confining
the individual in a manner that prevents him from
getting any help on his own, therefore amounts to the
infliction or aggravation of pain and suffering.
Comment, Right to Treatment for the Civilly Committed: A New
Eighth Amendment Basis, 45 U.Chi.L.Rev. 731, 747 (1978). Several
other courts, I note, are in agreement with this view. See Ramos
v. Lamm, 639 F.2d 559, 574-5 (10th Cir. 1980), cert. denied,
450 U.S. 1041, 101 S.Ct. 1759, 68 L.Ed.2d 239 (1981); Inmates of
Allegheny Cty. Jail v. Pierce, 612 F.2d 754, 763 (3d Cir. 1979);
Bowring v. Godwin, 551 F.2d 44, 47 (4th Cir. 1977); Ruiz v.
Estelle, 503 F. Supp. 1265, 1338 (S.D.Tex. 1980); Laaman v.
Helgemoe, 437 F. Supp. 269, 313 (D.N.H. 1977); see also Finney v.
Hutto, 410 F. Supp. 251, 258 (E.D.Ark. 1976), aff'd on other
grounds, 548 F.2d 740 (8th Cir. 1977), aff'd, 437 U.S. 678, 98
S.Ct. 2565, 57 L.Ed.2d 522 (1978); Newman v. Alabama, 349 F. Supp. 278
(M.D.Ala. 1972), aff'd, 503 F.2d 1320 (5th Cir. 1974), cert.
denied, 421 U.S. 948, 95 S.Ct. 1680, 44 L.Ed.2d 102 (1975); cf.
Harrington v. DeVito, 656 F.2d 264 (7th Cir. 1981) (argument that
pre-trial detainees have a constitutional right to adequate
mental health care not frivolous.*fn10 Accordingly, I hold
that an inmate suffers Eighth Amendment "pain" whenever that
inmate must endure the untreated effects of a serious mental
On a more operational level plaintiffs must allege (1) that
they suffered at some point during their incarceration from a
serious mental illness, and (2) that they continued to so suffer
at the time the complaint was filed.