Virginia examines death row isolation policy

State-NewsRICHMOND, Va. (AP) _ Virginia’s practice of automatically holding death row inmates in solitary confinement will be reviewed by a federal appeals court. Experts say that if the court upholds a ruling in favor of condemned inmate Alfredo Prieto, prisoners in other death penalty states could be encouraged to file similar challenges. U.S. District Judge Leonie Brinkema in Alexandria ruled last year that solitary confinement on death row is so onerous that the Virginia Department of Corrections must assess its necessity on a case-by-case basis. She said failure to do so is a violation of due process. The state argues in its appeal that courts should defer to the judgment of prison officials on safety issues. A three-judge panel of the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals will hear arguments Tuesday.

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