High Court Tosses Appeal Court’s Try to Save Inmate Tort Claim

By Christopher Zoukis Two Maryland state corrections officers were escorting Shaidon Blake as he was being transferred to a new cell in the west Baltimore prison where he is serving time for murder. Known as “Papa Don,” Blake was an enforcer for the California Bloods who had been sent to Baltimore to impose discipline on

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Second Circuit: RLUIPA Disallows Individual Capacity Suits

By David M. Reutter The Second Circuit Court of Appeals held in September 2013 that the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA) does not create a private right of action against state officials in their individual capacities. Anthony Washington, incarcerated at New York’s Woodbourne Correctional Facility, filed suit under 42 U.S.C. § 1983

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Oregon Garnishment Exemption Protects Funds in Prisoners’ Accounts

Norman Schlunt / Image courtesy Stephanie Yao and By Mark Wilson An Oregon judge has held that a prosecutor improperly seized money from a prisoner’s trust account to pay a court-ordered “compensatory fine.” In 2006, Norman Earl Schlunt was convicted of poisoning and suffocating his business partner and sentenced to life in prison. He

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Oklahoma Jailers Not Immune from Excessive Force Claims

By Prison Legal News The Oklahoma Supreme Court has held that jail officials are not immune from liability for excessive force claims under the Oklahoma Governmental Tort Claims Act (OGTCA). On May 17, 2011, Daniel Bosh was detained at the Cherokee County Detention Center for failure to pay a traffic ticket. Video surveillance showed him

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Lawsuits Challenge Conditions at Tennessee Jail; Five Charged in Bribery and Smuggling Scheme

By Prison Legal News

In the wake of a Tennessee federal district court hearing in a lawsuit challenging conditions at the Maury County Jail (MCJ), the number of suits filed by prisoners against the jail has nearly doubled.

At a September 2012 hearing, prisoners held at the MCJ testified they were losing weight and that the facility was overcrowded and infested with brown recluse spiders. They also claimed their requests for medical attention were often ignored.

At least 23 lawsuits concerning conditions at the MCJ have been filed. County Attorney Daniel Murphy, however, told the federal court at an October 29, 2012 hearing that the jail had made changes in response to prisoners’ complaints; for example, meals were increased from 2,700 calories daily to 2,900. He also said new meal trays were provided, hygiene supplies such as toothpaste and shampoo have been increased, and old mattresses, which were worn and moldy, are being replaced.

Murphy further noted that the MCJ had formalized its grievance and medical request procedures and that 25 state prisoners had been transferred out of the facility to state prisons, to address overcrowding.

U.S. District Court Judge William Haynes commended the MCJ on taking action, but still was concerned about “the things that you can plainly see.”

“[T]he bottom line here is that protecting the health of the inmates is the most important thing,” he said. “You still have the steel doors on the showers that are rusted, and the vents in the showers are heavily rusted.”

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