A federal appeals court has ruled that Virginia cannot go back to isolating death row inmates and denying them access to recreational facilities.
On Friday, a three-judge panel of the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a lower court ruling prohibiting the state from reverting to old conditions that were found to be unconstitutional. Those conditions included holding inmates in 71-square-foot cells for 23 hours a day.
The state improved its treatment of death row inmates in 2015 but did not commit to making those changes permanent.
In 2018, a federal judge barred the state from returning to the old conditions, finding that the isolation forced on the inmates created "a significant risk of substantial psychological and emotional harm." The 4th Circuit panel agreed with that finding.