Solitary Confinement for 27 Years?

The University of Denver's Civil Rights Clinic had a lower-court victory in a very interesting case:

I’m very happy to report a significant prisoners’ rights victory from the Civil Rights Clinic. We represent Tommy Silverstein, a federal prisoner who has been held in solitary confinement for the past 27 years. In 2007, we filed suit on behalf of Mr. Silverstein challenging several of his conditions of confinement against the federal Bureau of Prisons. We filed claims arguing that Mr. Silverstein had not received due process during his long detention. Yet, most significantly, we claimed that the Government’s indefinite imprisonment of him under “no human contact” status constitutes cruel and unusual punishment in violation of the Eighth Amendment....
This morning, the Honorable Philip A. Brimmer in the U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado held that Mr. Silverstein’s procedural due process claim is allowed to proceed (for both injunctive relief and damages), as is his Eighth Amendment claim for injunctive relief (the damages claims were dismissed on QI grounds). The decision on the Eighth Amendment is one of only two or three in the entire country where a court has held that solitary confinement alone is enough to state a claim for cruel and unusual punishment, even absent mental illness or other physical harm. We anticipate and hope that this decision will have a positive impact on the ability of litigators across the country to challenge the disturbing trend of holding individuals in solitary confinement indefinitely. 
You may read the opinion here.  (Hat tip: Alan K. Chen.)

1 comments:

  And Justice for all?

9:17 PM

What happens if there is a summary judgement?