Te decision not to put to death Zacarias Moussaoui has been hailed as a victory for civilisation.
Indigo Jo points out the reality of the the situation from reports in the Times:
He can look forward to a lifetime of solitary confinement in a facility that houses 399 other high security prisoners including former al Qaeda operatives, drug barons, and ganglords. Set in the middle of the desert and equipped with sophisticated surveillance technology, the prison is considered almost impossible to escape from.
Most of the prisoners are held in solitary confinement for 23 hours every day. For one hour each day they are allowed to exercise in a concrete chamber, fettered by leg irons and handcuffs. Prisoners stay in sound-proofed cells measuring seven feet by twelve. Each cell is bolted shut with a steel door.
The psychological effect of long-term solitary confinement is profound, leading to prisoners suffering from hallucinations, anxiety, depression and self-harm. One former prisoner David Clark told The Guardian in 2002 of extreme restraint methods used by the prison, even during family visits.
"Your family has to look at you chained up like Hannibal Lecter or something. They have to look at you in pain, squirming," he said.
A taste of life ahead was offered by James Aiken, a former prison warden called as a defence witness during his trial. “We are not preparing him for a return to society. We are not even preparing him for a return to the general population. The mission here is incapacitation.
“Time takes a toll on all of us, something he doesn’t even know yet. I have seen them rot. They rot.”
Pointedly, how is this any better than killing him?