Prolonged Solitary Confinement and the Constitution
25 Pages Posted: 8 Jul 2009
This Article will address whether the increasing practice of prolonged or permanent solitary confinement constitutes cruel and unusual punishment in violation of the Constitution, and whether it violates the due process rights of the prisoners so confined. It will not only look at United States case law, but at the jurisprudence of international human rights courts, commissions, and institutions. As the U.S. Supreme Court has noted, international jurisprudence can be helpful in determining the scope and meaning of broad terms in our Constitution such as “cruel and unusual punishments” or “due process,” as those terms ought to be understood in the context of what has been deemed unacceptable by the world community. This practice of long-term solitary confinement constitutes cruel and unusual punishment and violates the due process rights of prisoners, yet the unfortunate trend in the United States has been to downplay and ignore the cruel and inhuman effects of psychological abuse to prisoners where there is no long-term physical injury.
Keywords: solitary confinement, prolonged, permanent, United States case law, unconstitutional, international jurisprudence, international human rights courts, cruel and unusual punishment, prisoners rights, due process, psychological abuse
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