California Penal Code § 147 PC prohibits prison officers from acting with willful inhumanity or oppression towards prisoners in their care. Officers found to have of acted inhumanely or oppressively towards their prisoners face a $4,000 fine plus being fired from their job.
The statute reads as follows
PC 147. Inhumanity to prisoners
Every officer who is guilty of willful inhumanity or oppression toward any prisoner under his care or in his custody, is punishable by fine not exceeding four thousand dollars ($4,000), and by removal from office.
California Penal Code 147 PC serves as a check on prison guards, who understandably have trying jobs constantly corralling inmates who may be acting up or even displaying violence. Though under no circumstances can prison officers act with:
- willful inhumanity or
towards any prisoners in their custody or care. In the event they do, they must be terminated from their position and pay a fine of $4,000.
Example: Max is a prison warden who is angry at an inmate, Mel, for failing to make his bed. To punish Mel, Max makes Mel go without any meals for three straight days. Here, Max would probably be found to be in violation of PC 147 for depriving an inmate of food for so long.
Note that prison guards terminated and fined for inhumanity towards prisoners may also face assault & battery charges if there was any physical abuse. Plus the prisoners may try to sue the detention center for mistreatment and bring a Section 1983 civil rights lawsuit against the officer.1
See our related article on Medical and Health Care Neglect of California Jail and Prison Inmates.
- California Penal Code 147 PC – Inhumanity to prisoners. See also Griffin v. Municipal Court (Cal. 1977), 20 Cal. 3d 300.