Claiming that “extraordinary and severe” restrictions leave him in “near total isolation,” attorneys for 20-year-old Dzhokhar Tsarnaev have asked a judge to ease the federal prison restrictions on the Boston Marathon bombing suspect.
The restrictions placed on Tsarnaev are “Special Administrative Measures” used in terrorism cases, which lawyers claim impair their ability to defend him.
In a 23-page motion filed today in Boston, attorneys tried to ease the conditions for the former UMass Dartmouth student while he awaits trial.
“He is confined to his cell except for legal visits and very limited access to a small outdoor enclosure, on weekdays, weather permitting,” the motion said.
According to his legal team, the restrictions violate due process guaranteed in the Constitution.
“The negative effects of isolation on detainees are well-documented. Indeed, the United Nations identifies long-term solitary confinement as a form of torture,” they added.
Last week, Tsarnaev’s lawyers requested more time to prepare a death penalty defense before the Oct. 31 deadline. The original deadline had been in August.
Three died and more than 260 were wounded during the Boston marathon bombings on April 15. Tsarnaev could face the death penalty if convicted for the bombings and for the death of MIT officer Sean Collier, who was allegedly killed by Tsarnaev and his now-deceased brother Tamerlan during an attempted escape.