An inmate who has spent the past 12 years in solitary confinement at the Colorado State Penitentiary won a case asking for outdoor exercise rights.
According to a report by the Denver Post, Troy Anderson, 43, has spent his years in a 90-square-foot room with 6-inch-wide slits for windows.
"The Eighth Amendment does not mandate comfortable prisons," U.S. District Judge Brooke Jackson wrote in his ruling last week, adding, "But it does forbid inhumane conditions."
The decision could have a far-reaching impact in other cases brought on by inmates.
The Colorado State Penitentiary (CSP), located in Canon City, is reserved for the most dangerous male offenders in the state. Prisoners are kept in their cells for 23 hours of the day and are given no opportunities to be outside.
Students at University of Denver's Sturm College of Law represented Anderson and also called for better access to mental health treatments.
The complaint argues that Anderson, who has a history of mental illness, is caught in a kind of catch-22 because he's kept in solitary confinement without access to treatments and is continually punished through segregation for his failure to progress.
Anderson's crimes include a shootout with police, suicide attempts, drug use, robberies and others. He's not eligible for parole until 2041.
The judge ordered the prison to grant Anderson access to an area that is fully outdoors for three hours each week and that he cannot be denied medication.