Eighth Amendment Victory: Federal Court Bars Prison Officials From Subjecting Death Row Inmates to Harsh, Dehumanizing Conditions | WHAT REALLY HAPPENED


Eighth Amendment Victory: Federal Court Bars Prison Officials From Subjecting Death Row Inmates to Harsh, Dehumanizing Conditions

In a rebuke to the practice of subjecting prisoners to solitary confinement, a federal appeals court has held that a Virginia prison violated the Constitution’s prohibition on cruel and unusual punishment by confining death row inmates to parking-space sized cells in virtual isolation. The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that conditions at Sussex I State Prison were “dehumanizing” and ordered prison officials to make permanent changes mitigating the conditions, including allowing death row inmates to have contact visits with family and opportunities for recreational and religious activities. The Rutherford Institute and American Civil Liberties Union of Virginia filed an amicus brief with the appeals court in Porter v. Clarke urging it to uphold an injunction against prison officials, arguing that a binding court order was necessary to ensure that state officials abide by the court’s ruling on the inmates’ Eighth Amendment right to be free of cruel punishment and to prevent the harsh conditions of isolation being re-imposed upon the prisoners.

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