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‘Dickensian’ Prisoner Suits May Suffer Post-Kennedy

Oct. 15, 2018, 4:30 PM

Justice Sonia Sotomayor cited Charles Dickens in a recent opinion to critique the state of solitary confinement in America. But her reference to another consequential author, Anthony M. Kennedy, signals even more that the worst of times are ahead for prisoners and others claiming cruel and unusual punishment.

Sotomayor agreed with her colleagues Oct. 9, for procedural reasons, to reject appeals from individuals previously held in solitary in Colorado prisons. They had asked the justices to uphold their right to outdoor recreation while locked up.

But she wrote separately—and alone—to argue that “to deprive a prisoner of any outdoor exercise...

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