I would say that when we re-write the Constitution, we should ban this. But here's the weird thing -- there already is a ban on cruel and unusual punishment:
For over four decades, Herman Wallace (one of the Angola 3) was held in solitary confinement in the Louisiana State Penitentiary. The facility, also known as Angola prison, denied him the right to have the reasons for his cruel confinement conditions reviewed. This took place on top of the fact that there was significant corruption in the state’s case that led to his conviction for the murder of an Angola prison guard. But now, Wallace has been set free.
A district court judge in Louisiana vacated his conviction and sentence yesterday on the grounds that women had been systematically excluded from the grand jury that indicted him, a violation of his Fourteenth Amendment guarantee of equal protection under the law.
Judge Brian A. Jackson ordered the state to immediately release Wallace from custody and, within thirty days, the state would have to notify Wallace if they intended to re-indict him for allegedly being involved in the murder of a prison guard.
Compounding the cruelty of his decades of imprisonment, Wallace is dying. He has advanced liver cancer. In fact, he sent a message to those who had supported him informing them on August 31 that “chemo treatments had failed and were making matters worse so all treatment came to an end. The oncologists advised that nothing can be done for me medically within the standard care that they are authorized to provide.”
I don't have a lot to add -- before yesterday I didn't know about Herman Wallace's case; I thought you should know about it now. Even if he did kill a prison guard -- and the evidence seems pretty strong that he didn't -- it's torture to keep a man in solitary confinement for 41 years. Interestingly, prison officials said the treatment was because of the interest in "Black Pantherism" that he developed during the prisoners' rights movement of the early 1970s. It's another reminder why I end up writing about that era on the blog so often. It's a war that that we never seem to start fighting.