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State Supreme Court Cases

This collection of state Supreme Court decisions relevant to solitary confinement was compiled and annotated by Solitary Watch Research Associates Daniel H. Goldman and Ryan Brimmer, students at the Virginia Capital Case Clearinghouse, Washington & Lee University School of Law.

1. Hart v. Commonwealth, 131 Va. 726 (1921)

2. Balser v. Delaware, 57 Del. 206 (1963)

3. Cooper v. Gwinn, 171 W. Va. 245 (1981)

a. Standards of prison conditions/administration must follow the standards of decency as set forth by the correctional community.

4. Sterling v. Cupp., 625 P.2d 123 (Or. 1981)

5. Billings v. Gates, 916 P.2d 291 (Or. 1996)

a. Prison officials found to have violated state constitutional prohibition on cruel and unusual punishment by purposefully denying medical treatment that had significant adverse effect on the inmate’s daily activities, resulting in substantial and recurring pain or discomfort or creating a significant risk or permanent disability. (The claim here was that he had high arches as was not provided special shoes.)

6. Walker v. State, 68 P.3d 872 (Mont. 2003)

a. Holding that the prison’s practice of subjecting certain inmates to Behavior Modification Plans, together with living conditions in cell-block violated inmate’s inviolable state constitutional right to human dignity and constituted cruel and unusual punishment to the extent that it exacerbated inmate’s mental health condition.