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01/14/2014

Follow Up on Prieto v. Clark Reaffirms Important Decision

Last Friday, Judge Brinkema reaffirmed her earlier ruling that it is unconstitutional to automatically put death row inmates in solitary confinement.  She rejected Virginia’s arguments that she should delay the implementation of her order on the grounds that it would be too difficult for the prisons to make the changes that she demanded.  Before her November 2013 ruling, capital offenders in Virginia were automatically placed in solitary confinement upon sentencing, without the possibility of subsequent review.  Judge Brinkema’s ruling is significant in bringing US practices one step closer to being in line with international human rights law.  Her holding is consistent with the growing international consensus that recognizes the cruel and inhuman aspects of solitary confinement.