Appeals court examines Virginia death row conditions lawsuit

FILE - This undated file photo provided by the Virginia Department of Corrections shows the execution chamber at the Greensville Correctional Center in Jarratt, Va. Virginia officials have quietly granted the state’s death row inmates new privileges amid legal challenges from the men awaiting execution. (AP Photo/Virginia Department of Corrections, File)

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Attorneys for several Virginia inmates want to forbid the state from reinstating more restrictive conditions on death row.

The inmates’ lawyers urged a federal appeals court on Wednesday to revive their lawsuit against the Virginia Department of Corrections so that a lower court can decide whether the previous conditions on death row amounted to cruel and unusual punishment.

Death row inmates were quietly granted more privileges in 2015 amid legal challenges. They now get more recreation time, among other things.

Their attorneys say they fear the changes are temporary. They wanted the district court to rule that the previous conditions were unconstitutional so they can’t be reinstated. The district court dismissed the matter, saying the issue had been resolved.

The appeals court is expected to rule in the coming weeks