Skip to main content

Isolation Of Inmates May Be ‘Cruel And Unusual’


In Hutto v. Finney, the U.S. Supreme Court rules that Arkansas’ practice of placing prisoners in isolation cells for 30-day periods as punishment for breaking prison rules is “cruel and unusual” punishment. The Court bases its ruling not on the length of time that prisoners are isolated, but on the overall conditions in the prisons. In other words, Hutto does not create an absolute prohibition on 30-day isolation periods, but instead, makes it necessary to examine all circumstances in deciding whether a certain prison condition is “cruel and unusual.”