Former Death Row Inmate Wins Judgment That He Faces "Cruel And Unusual Punishment" | Connecticut Public Radio

Former Death Row Inmate Wins Judgment That He Faces "Cruel And Unusual Punishment"

Aug 29, 2019

A judge has ruled in favor of a Connecticut inmate who sued the state in federal court over the conditions he’s faced during incarceration. 

Richard Reynolds was sentenced to death in 1995 after he was convicted in the murder of a Waterbury police officer. But after the state abolished the death penalty, he was re-sentenced to life in prison.

He’s currently classified as a “special circumstances inmate” living in a 12 foot by 7 foot cell.

The judge deemed his situation in prison as “cruel and unusual” and he called solitary confinement an “extreme” form of punishment.

David McGuire agrees. He’s executive director of the Connecticut chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union. He hopes this will prove to be an important test case.

“I believe that a lot of the arguments set forth by Richard Reynolds that were ultimately agreed upon by the judge will be used in other cases challenging similarly harsh conditions in Connecticut," McGuire told Connecticut Public Radio.

"I also hope that this decision makes very clear to the legislature and elected officials that solitary confinement is counter-productive – it actually makes the prisoners, the guards, and ultimately society less safe -- and really takes a hard look why we use solitary confinement in Connecticut today,” he went on.

The state has been ordered to improve the quality of Reynolds’ incarceration within 30 days.

A spokesman for Attorney General William Tong says he’s weighing options now.

The Department of Correction issued a statement saying it’s also "in the process of reviewing the decision and consulting with our legal team in order to determine a future course of action.”