Reid v. Wetzel Amicus Curiae Brief

Faculty Sponsor

Amanda Zelechoski


Arts and Sciences



Presentation Type

Poster Presentation

Symposium Date

Spring 5-3-2018


In Reid v. Wetzel, a class action lawsuit was filed against the Pennsylvania's Department of Corrections (DOC) for housing death-sentenced prisoners in permanent solitary confinement. These prisoners spend 90-100% of their day in their cells in conditions that can damage a person's mental health and any existing mental illness. There are multiple studies which have shown the negative effects of solitary confinement on a person's mental health. Some of the consequences include increases in self-harm and suicide. Under the Eighth Amendment, cruel and unusual punishment should not be inhibited by the federal and/or state government. Having prisoners exposed to prolonged isolation is a form of cruel and unusual punishment because of the devastating effects it can have on a person. Under the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, no person shall be deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process of the law. Prisoners confined to their tiny cell until they die or have their capital sentence overturned is restricting them of their basic rights as a U.S. citizen. Therefore, the practice of using solitary confinement for death sentenced prisoners violates the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendment.

Biographical Information about Author(s)

My name is Magdalena Bonilla. I am a senior at Valparaiso University. I am majoring in Psychology and minoring in Criminology. I am currently interning at Porter County's Prisoners and Community Together (PACT) office which is a community based correction. I became interested in the topic because I think that using isolation as punishment in a prison environment goes against the basic rights of U.S. citizens. I hope to educate others and bring more awareness about this topic. This is also a way to advocate for those who cannot necessarily speak out for themselves because of the situation they are in.

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