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January 18, 2006

Interesting Seventh Circuit opinion on Supermax prison treatment

Thanks to How Appealing, I see that Judge Richard Posner has written an interesting opinion in Scarver v. Litscher, No. 05-2999 (7th Cir. Jan. 18, 2006) (available here), about the treatment of a prisoner in Wisconsin's Supermax prison system.  As is true with many opinions of Judge Posner, there are quotable flourishes throughout Scarver.  For example:

The murderous ingenuity of murderous inmates, especially in states such as Wisconsin that do not have capital punishment, so that inmates who like Scarver are already serving life terms are undeterrable, cannot be overestimated.  Prison authorities must be given considerable latitude in the design of measures for controlling homicidal maniacs without exacerbating their manias beyond what is necessary for security.  It is a delicate balance.

UPDATE: Providing a fitting follow-up to this post, Dan Filler over at Concurring Opinions explores these provocative questions:

First, is Supermax punishment so cruel that it is inherently unconstitutional?  Second, even if not, should legislatures have to specifically authorize Supermax sentences for particular crimes?

AND:  Will Baude over at Crescat Sententia has additional thoughtful thoughts here.

January 18, 2006 at 05:44 PM | Permalink

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» Taking Supermax Seriously from Concurring Opinions
Justice Posner's description of a Supermax prison, in Scarver v. Litscher rekindled my discomfort with such facilities. Posner draws a clear picture of life at the prison's "Level One" where all prisoners begin their stay and some continue for several... [Read More]

Tracked on Jan 19, 2006 12:47:24 PM

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