Reginald Latson is a young man with an intellectual disability and on the autism spectrum. In early 2014, he was arrested and criminally charged in a shocking overuse of state force, then confined to a state prison and held in solitary confinement for the better part of eight months. After significant outcry about his treatment, including from the ACLU of Virginia, then-Governor McAuliffe issued a conditional pardon to Mr. Latson, but not before he was horrifically mistreated in Virginia state custody.

Mr. Latson brought a lawsuit against Director Harold Clarke and other officials, alleging violations of the Eighth Amendment and the Americans with Disabilities Act, among other claims. Although his suit survived a motion to dismiss, the court granted summary judgment on all of his claims, and in doing so declined to reach the question of whether Mr. Latson’s treatment in state custody constituted cruel and unusual punishment.

The ACLU of Virginia joined the Roderick and Solange MacArthur Justice Center, the ACLU of Maryland, the Center for Public Representation, Disability Law Center of Virginia, Disability Rights California, Disability Rights Maryland, Disability Rights North Carolina, and the Uptown People’s Law Center in filing an amicus brief in the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals on behalf of Mr. Latson requesting that the appellate court reverse the district court’s decision. The amicus brief details the severe psychological and physiological consequences of solitary confinement on prisoners, specifically those with preexisting vulnerabilities.



Eden Heilman and Vishal Agraharkar, ACLU of Virginia

Date filed

February 11, 2019


U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit



Case number

USCA4 Appeal: 18-2457