by SpearIt, Associate Professor of Law, Texas Southern University Thurgood Marshall School of Law
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In recent decades, the United States has been under a “lock ’em up and throw away the key” mentality when it comes to imprisonment. The Supreme Court has left the question of prison sentencing to the near-complete discretion of legislatures, while placing little constitutional constraint on how long inmates can be held in solitary confinement. This hands-off approach by the Court runs parallel to federal and state lawmaking that has ratcheted prison sentences upwards-only, making criminal sentencing in America something of a runaway train.