The American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana and Faegre Drinker Biddle & Reath LLP today filed a lawsuit which claims that individuals on death row in the United States Penitentiary, Terre Haute, Indiana, are being held in isolated conditions that constitute cruel and unusual punishment in violation of the Eighth Amendment to the United States Constitution.
There are currently 38 people confined in the Terre Haute penitentiary’s Special Confinement Unit (SCU), all of whom are being held in seclusion. These men are only allowed to leave their cells for a few hours each week and are generally denied congregate activities. This imposed involuntary solitude lasts the entirety of their confinement in the SCU, which can last decades, until they die.
According to mental health experts, prolonged isolation and solitary confinement can cause, and predictably will cause, individuals to suffer serious emotional and psychological injuries
“We must address our overreliance on solitary confinement in this country. Long-term isolation costs too much, exacerbates mental illness, and is fundamentally inhumane,” said Ken Falk, ACLU of Indiana Legal Director.
The lawsuit was filed on behalf of Jurijus Kadamovas and class certification is being sought on behalf of all current and future individuals confined to the SCU at the U.S. Penitentiary in Terre Haute, Indiana.
About the ACLU of Indiana
The ACLU of Indiana works in courts, legislatures, and communities to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties that the Constitution and the laws of the United States guarantee everyone in this country. That includes defending the rights of individuals who are incarcerated. The ACLU works to ensure that no person is held in conditions that threaten their health, safety, and human dignity. The ACLU of Indiana previously won a lawsuit on behalf of the Indiana Protection and Advocacy Services Commission (IPAS) to defend the rights of mentally ill individuals who were placed in isolation. This case fundamentally transformed the way individuals who are incarcerated are housed and treated, requiring that individuals are no longer held without treatment in solitary confinement.
About Faegre Drinker Biddle & Reath LLP
Faegre Drinker is a firm designed for clients. With more than 1,200 attorneys, consultants and professionals in 21 locations across the United States, London and Shanghai, Faegre Drinker provides exceptional transactional, litigation, regulatory and government advocacy services to organizations ranging from emerging enterprises to multinational companies. Faegre Drinker Consulting, the firm’s advisory and advocacy division based in Washington, D.C., provides public policy, regulatory and technical services to key sectors of the economy. Additional services include Tritura Information Governance, the firm’s data science subsidiary, and Innovative Health Strategies, a health care consultancy that helps hospitals operate efficiently and improve quality of service. Learn more at FaegreDrinker.com.