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Ingraham v. Wright (1977)

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Shannon Vallee

on 23 April 2013

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Transcript of Ingraham v. Wright (1977)

Intro/ Facts of the Case Shannon Vallee Ingraham v. Wright (1977) Paths of Appeal to the Supreme Court Prior to appealing to the Supreme Court, Ingraham went to the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida. The district court dismissed all three counts before hearing any evidence at all.

When brought to a panel of the court of appeals, it voted to reverse the district court's decision on the basis that the corporal punishment actually was "severe and repressive" and violated the 8th AND the 14th Amendment.

During the rehearing of the case, the en banc court (the entire bench of judges in a court, instead of a selected few of them) rejected the court of appeal's decision and reaffirmed the judgement of the district court.

Ingraham then appealed to the Supreme Court. Relevant Legal Precedents Justice White argued for school principals to be "fair-minded."
He included in his argument against corporal punishment the student-rights case of Goss v Lopez (1975)
In this case, the Supreme Court ruled that students must be given advanced notice of their punishment, and an opportunity for their story to be heard before suspension from the school. Introduction Bibliography: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ingraham_v._Wright
http://www.businessdayonline.com/NG/index.php/analysis/features/48343-how-effective-is-corporal-punishment-in-todays-disciplinary-option The Supreme Court case, Ingraham v. Wright (1977) deals with the question of whether or not corporal punishment should be allowed in schools.
Two 8th grade students from Florida, James Ingraham and Roosevelt Andrews, appealed to the Supreme Court after they had been paddled by the school principal with excessive force.

Ingraham and Andrews were being punished for refusing to leave the auditorium stage when asked by a teacher. When the boys refused to bend over and be paddled, the principal beat them with excessive force.

They claimed that these acts were violations of the 8th Amendment, which protected persons from "cruel and unusual punishment." In the 1970s, Florida Law allowed corporal punishment - with paddles - to be used to discipline students. The paddles were required to be flat, less than 2 ft long, 4 in wide and 1/2 in thick. Teachers were only allowed to paddle students on the bottom 5 times.

When Ingraham was punished, he was given 20 licks of the paddle instead of 5, causing him to miss eleven days of school because of a hematoma. Throughout the course of the month, Ingraham, Andrews, and several other students were being paddled so severely and excessively for breaking minor school rules, that they were losing the use of their arms and missing school.

The defendants of this case were Principal Willie Wright, assistant principals Lemmie Deliford and Solomon Barnes, and Superintendent Edward Whigham. Impact on Society Legal Opinion Personal Opinion After the Supreme Court ruled that corporal punishment in schools did not go against the 8th and 14th amendments, the court seemed no longer interested in the issue. The anti-corporal punishment movement died down.
Each state is given the power to decide if corporal punishment is allowed in schools, and Alabama, Texas, and Tennessee are three of the twenty states that allow paddling.
Paddling and spanking children as punishment is seen by many to be an outdated act that in no way improves behavior. On the other hand, others say that with the way children's attitudes have worsened, it is necessary to instill fear in them. Though corporal punishment does not violate any human rights according to the Supreme Court, schools must abide by paddling regulations and not use excessive force. As long as the pain is not severe, I believe that paddling is not "cruel and unusual punishment." However, there needs to be rules and regulations on the amount of hits. If a student is hurt so badly they need to be hospitalized, then it goes against the 8th amendment.
I did not think that this case was severe enough to be taken to the Supreme Court - it didn't violate the 8th Amendment. Cruel and unusual punishment was interpreted by the court to be torture.
Each state that allows corporal punishment is kept in check by rules for punishment. Schools must only hit the student in certain areas, and a certain amount of times. Studies have shown that corporal punishment does not improve behavior. I believe it is harsh and excessive to hurt a child to correct them. Violence does not give a good example. People can find other, healthier ways to help a child - like counseling or community service.
I feel that the principal should have been fined for giving James Ingraham a hematoma. It should have been against state laws to cause severe injuries.
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