5 death row inmates challenge policy of solitary confinement

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) – Five Pennsylvania death row inmates are challenging a state Corrections Department policy that keeps them isolated most of the time, describing it as degrading and inhumane.

The federal lawsuit filed Thursday in Harrisburg asks the court to end mandatory, indefinite solitary confinement for the 156 men on death row at Graterford and Greene state prisons.

The lawsuit says death row inmates are locked up alone 22 hours to 24 hours a day, and their small cells are kept illuminated at all hours.

A Corrections Department official says the lawsuit is under review.

Pennsylvania has executed three people since 1976, and all three had voluntarily given up on their appeals.

Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf announced a death penalty moratorium soon after he took office three years ago.

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