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A Death Before Dying: Solitary Confinement on Death Row

The double punishment experienced by death-sentenced prisoners is documented. This publication should be read by any stakeholder connected with the capital punishment process-policy leaders, lawyers, judges, and the public. Sections contained in this report are: introduction; trapped in a broken system; punishment on top of punishment; survey reveals majority of death rows hold prisoners in solitary confinement-cramped and bare cells are the norm, most on death row experience extreme isolation and inactivity, and too many on death row are denied religious services; the devastating effects of prolonged solitary confinement are well known; “death row phenomenon” and staggering delays exacerbate damage; and conclusion. “Regardless of their stance on the death penalty, the people of the United States understand that a fair justice system must be a humane justice system. And by this measure, we are currently failing. It is time for reformers on both sides of the death penalty debate to recognize the hidden harms of solitary confinement inflicted on death row prisoners across the country. Solitary confinement is not part of the sentence. In order to build a criminal justice system that accurately reflects our values, we must end the routine use of solitary confinement of death row prisoners” (p. 3).