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Solitary ConfinementLived Experiences and Ethical Implications$
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David Polizzi

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9781447337539

Published to Policy Press Scholarship Online: September 2017

DOI: 10.1332/policypress/9781447337539.001.0001

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The Supreme Court, solitary confinement, and the prohibition of cruel and unusual punishment

The Supreme Court, solitary confinement, and the prohibition of cruel and unusual punishment

Chapter:
(p.49) 4 The Supreme Court, solitary confinement, and the prohibition of cruel and unusual punishment
Source:
Solitary Confinement
Author(s):

David Polizzi

Publisher:
Policy Press
DOI:10.1332/policypress/9781447337539.003.0004

The relationship between solitary confinement and cruel and unusual punishment dates back to the mid-1880s. However, it is important to note that the Supreme Court was more concerned with the procedural application of this approach, rather than any legitimate consideration on the practice itself. The relationship between solitary confinement and the Court, for the most part, remained within this procedural context, with the exception of a few exceptional examples. The current attitude of the Court attitude to more focused on the specific structure of solitary confinement and the specific harms it imposes on those so confined. A similar attitude has not yet emerged concerning supermax confinement. Given that most sides in this debate seem to agree concerning the psychological harm caused by solitary confinement, deliberate indifference, a major feature of the Court’s attitude concerning the unconstitutionality of this practice, can no longer be denied.

Keywords:   solitary confinement, supermax confinement, Supreme Court, psychological harm, The Eighth Amendment

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