Williams v. Secretary Pennsylvania Department of Corrections, No. 14-1469 (3d Cir. 2017)Annotate this Case
Plaintiffs, inmates in the custody of the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections, were each sentenced to death and housed on the death row of his respective institution. Eventually, their death sentences were vacated, but several years elapsed before they were resentenced to life without parole. In the interim, Plaintiffs spent several years in the solitary confinement of death row. They sought damages, alleging violation of their Fourteenth Amendment rights to due process by continuing to subject them to the deprivations of solitary confinement on death row without meaningful review of their placements after their death sentences had been vacated. The Third Circuit affirmed summary judgment in favor of the defendants. There is a constitutionally protected liberty interest that prohibits the state from continuing to house inmates in solitary confinement on death row after they have been granted resentencing hearings, without meaningful review of the continuing placement, however that principle was not previously clearly established, so prison officials are entitled to qualified immunity. The court noted scientific consensus concerning the harms of solitary confinement and recent precedent involving non-death row solitary confinement.