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Solitary Confinement Issues Are Being Brought to the Discussion
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solitary confinement

Summary: Several cases are in the process, either at the federal level or Supreme Court, of being argued to whether or not solitary confinement is right.

Solitary confinement issues are making their way to the U.S. Supreme Court. Justice Anthony Kennedy voiced concerns about the effects that prolonged solitary confinement has on a prisoners’ physical and mental health in a concurring opinion in the case Davis v. Ayala back in June.


Justice Kennedy assumed that at some point they will have “determine whether workable alternative systems for long-term confinement exist, and, if so, whether a correctional system should be required to adopt them.” Not even three weeks later there was a petition filed in the Supreme Court challenging the due-process of Virginia permanently assigning death-row prisoners to confinement.

They pointed out the fact that some inmates have been in solitary confinement for over 15 years without a review on the conditions. There are already two trials in federal courts scheduled before the year ends. One is a class action in California by Pelican Bay State Prison inmates, claiming due-process and the Eighth Amendment. The other case is by Albert Woodfox, who has spent over 40 years in solitary. He is the last of the Angola 3 charged with the murder of a prison guard.

There are an estimated 80,000 inmates in solitary confinement so while the issue may be hard to discuss, there is a great need for it to happen says the director of the appellate litigation program Steven Goldblatt at Georgetown University Law Center.

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The problem with most the solitary confinement cases that have been brought up to now don’t adequately prove that the conditions in confinement are harsh in relation to the ordinary prison life. They also need to be showing a state law or policy that gives them their due process interests.




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