Statement on Solitary Confinement and the Death Penalty
In the United States of America, people and the courts still are debating if the death penalty constitutes a legally prohibited "cruel and unusual punishment," but there is less and less debate about torturous conditions of solitary confinement. All complaints filed in U.S. Courts assert that Solitary Confinement violates the Eighth Amendment's Cruel and Unusual Punishment. The American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana, in January 2023, filed a complaint in U.S. District Court—on Yuri Kadamov's behalf—challenging conditions of confinement on Federal Death Row. On May 25, 2022, President Joe Biden signed an executive order that included a directive on reducing the use of solitary confinement in the federal prison system.
No rational legislature, judge or jury could ever impose Cruel and Unusual Punishment or Torture on anyone. It's prohibited by the Eighth Amendment, Customary International Law, and offends the evolving standards of decency that mark the progress of a maturing society. And nevertheless, many death row inmates in this country spend 15, 20 or more years in torturous conditions of confinement without any legitimate penological purpose but that they were sentenced to death. This is the result of the dysfunctional postconviction system. Such a system is unconstitutional, inhumane, and requires that the death sentence be vacated.
Death is not the enemy. Everyone eventually dies. Death is relatively quick, but the pain and suffering is perpetual, and the people who knowingly and intentionally inflict pain and suffering are the enemy of a maturing society.