"Court in Va. examines death row isolation policy," is the AP report filed by Larry O'Dell.
Virginia's practice of automatically holding death row inmates in solitary confinement will be reviewed by a federal appeals court in a case that experts say could have repercussions beyond the state's borders.
U.S. District Judge Leonie Brinkema in Alexandria ruled last year that around-the-clock isolation of condemned inmates is so onerous that the Virginia Department of Corrections must assess its necessity on a case-by-case basis. Failure to do so, she said, violates the inmates' due process rights.
The state appealed, arguing that the 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.