In recent years, several states have abolished the death penalty, and other states seem to be moving in the direction of abolition. Sentences of life without parole are now common replacements for death sentences, and long-term solitary confinement is an increasingly popular instrument for controlling prison populations. Yet there is good reason to think that long-term solitary confinement has debilitating psychological effects which render people unable to engage socially. So if capital punishment has been replaced by a sentence of life without parole in a system where long-term solitary confinement is increasingly common, have we truly abolished the death penalty? Or have we replaced it with a form of living death?
On Monday, March 18 at 7pm, Lisa Guenther will be giving a Berry Lecture at Vanderbilt University on the question: “Is Solitary Confinement a Living Death Penalty?” The lecture will take place in Furman Hall, room 106. Snacks and drinks will be served beginning at 6:15. The event is free and open to the public.