Thursday, January 23, 2014
Andrew Cohen's post today at The Atlantic lambastes South Carolina's "immoral appeal" of this recent decision in which the judge found that the state's prison conditions violate the state and federal Constitutions' protection against "cruel and unusual punishment." Cohen says "the state's motion is
remarkable for the assertions it makes that directly contradict the evidence in this case"; and, he later declares that the state's "assertions [on appeal] turn on their head the entire edifice of American law[.]" The title of this post comes from his piece, which begins:
Over the objections of the state's best editorial writers and some of its leading legislators, South Carolina has chosen to fight a recent court order declaring its prisons to be unconscionable (and unconstitutional) dens of abuse and neglect for mentally ill inmates housed there. Lawyers for the state filed a motion Tuesday with Judge Michael Baxley, the link to which can be found here, asking him to "alter or amend" his January 8th order in which he found that...
… inmates have died in the South Carolina Department of Corrections for lack of basic mental health care, an hundreds more remain substantially at risk for serious physical injury, mental decompensation, and profound, permanent mental illness.
The motion will be denied, as it should be, and then the legal dispute over the treatment of the inmates will move to the state's appellate courts. The process will take years. It will cost a great deal. And so long as state officials are litigating the matter, and proclaiming themselves aggrieved by the rule of law, there is little reason to think that the wretched lives of the inmates will be rendered any safer. They will instead remain citizens with grand rights but no remedies.