Supreme Court rejects decision to decide whether solitary confinement is legal
Is solitary confinement a form of ‘cruel and unusual punishment’
The United States Supreme Court on Tuesday refused to decide whether the use of solitary confinement for death row inmates is constitutional, shelfing a major test of the 8th Amendment’s ban on cruel and unusual punishment. The justices denied the case partially based on the original plaintiff, Alfredo Prieto being executed by lethal injection by the state of Virginia even before the high court could rule on his final stay application. They also dismissed a motion that he be replaced by another death-row inmate.
Justice Anthony Kennedy came out multiple times to sharing his belief that it may be too extreme, even for prisoners condemned to die. In March, Kennedy told a congressional panel that “solitary confinement literally drives men mad” and the corrections system “in many respects … is broken.” The Virginia case was filed in July while Prieto was in the final stages of challenging his death sentence for a series of murders. His petition said he was one of only eight inmates on death row in the state and therefore “permanently assigned to extreme conditions of solitary confinement” far different from the state’s other 39,000 prisoners, including murderers sentenced to life without parole. Kennedy defended his position in a June opinion ruling.
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