Angar the Screamer in Agents of SHIELD was imprisoned below a mental hospital and wore a metal gag for years. Once the gag was removed, it was very clear Angar had damaged skin around his mouth and rotten teeth (also, did they feed him by IV? Feeding tube?). Did this treatment violate the 8th Amendment?
Yes, even with Angar’s super powered voice that attacked the central nervous system.
Case law is clear that deliberate indifference by prison officials to a prisoner’s serious medical or dental need constitutes cruel and unusual punishment in violation of the Eighth Amendment. Young v. McGill, 2011 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 140979, 5-6 (D. Conn. Dec. 8, 2011), citing Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 104, 97 S. Ct. 285, 50 L. Ed. 2d 251 (1976).
If Angar was to sue the Federal Government for his treatment, he would need to allege “facts demonstrating sufficiently harmful acts or omissions and intent to either deny or unreasonably delay access to needed medical care or the wanton infliction of unnecessary pain by prison personnel.” Id.
The Government would argue that Angar had to wear the gag, because his voice would kill anyone who could hear him. This is a valid point, especially considering someone had to somehow “feed” the prisoner (perhaps Angar had a peripherally inserted central catheter for nourishment). Despite the need to restrain Angar from speaking, a less restrictive violation of Angar’s person would be to incarcerate him in a sound proof room. All guards and medical professions would interact with him could wear protective hearing to avoid being injured by Angar. This effectively is what doctors do already by wearing surgical gloves or those who work in high noise areas.
Another option besides wearing a gag would be drug therapy, so Angar could not speak. This would be akin to sex offenders who have to take a chemical to temporarily suppress their sex drive (chemical castration). State v. Christopher (1982) 133 Ariz. 508, 509 [652 P.2d 1031, 1032]. This would protect anyone treating the prisoner and not require Angar to wear a gag indefinitely.
Angar’s rotten teeth would speak for themselves that the prison had “deliberate indifference” to Angar’s dental needs. There is no way around the fact his teeth were a mess. God knows what sort of gum disease Angar would have had after years of not brushing. The damage to Angar’s mouth would strongly show the Government was indifferent to Angar’s health in violation of the 8th Amendment.
Now….did Angar kill all those football players and cheerleaders? Were the high school students knocked out and drooling for hours? The birds looked pretty dead. If Angar took out a field full of high school students it would be comparable a small-scale Stamford, Connecticut from Civil War. Public reaction would not be good. Angar and the JV Masters of Evil would have bigger legal issues then tooth decay.