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Conditions of confinement.

U.S. Appeals Court


Alvarado v. Litscher 267 F.3d 648 (7th Cir. 2001). A prisoner brought an action against a prison alleging deliberate indifference to his exposure to environmental tobacco smoke in violation of the Eighth Amendment. The district court denied the prison's motion to dismiss and the appeals court affirmed, finding that the prisoner stated a claim upon which relief could be granted. The court found that the prisoner's current and future health had been endangered because he had chronic asthma. The prisoner alleged that other prisoners in his non-smoking housing unit smoked in violation of prison policy because correctional officers were frequently not at their post to enforce the smoking ban. The prisoner also alleged that he is unable to participate in programs that would enhance his chances of parole because smoking is permitted in common areas of the prison. (Dodge Correctional Institution, Wisconsin)

U.S. District Court


Chilcote v. Mitchell. 166 F.Supp.2d 1313 (D.Or. 2001). A former prisoner and detainees at a federal detention center sued officials alleging they were subjected to unconstitutional conditions of confinement. The district court granted summary judgment in favor of the officials, finding no Eighth and Fourteenth Amendment violations from the size of the cell. The court noted that all three occupants of the cell could not be off of their bunks at the same time because the cell was so small, and the occupants were confined in the cell for 20 to 21 hours daily. The court found that the crowding was necessitated by the volume of incoming detainees and the lockdown was needed because of the danger posed by detainees had not yet been evaluated. The cells had been designed to house two inmates and ranged in size from 80.7 to 96 square feet. In a triple-bunk cell, 40 to 45 square feet of floor space is covered by the bunks, sink and toilet. The remaining floor space, 35 to 40 square feet "effectively does not permit al l three occupants to be off their bunks at the same time." There are no lockers, chairs or tables in the cells. (Federal Detention Center, Sheridan, Oregon)

U.S. District Court


Scotti v. Russell 175 F.Supp.2d 1099 (N.D.lll. 2001). An inmate brought a ?? 1983 action seeking injunctive relief and damages for alleged Eighth Amendment violations. The district court entered judgment for the defendants, finding that the temperature of the inmate's cell was not sufficiently cold as to constitute an Eighth Amendment violation of the inmate's right to adequate shelter. According to the court, temperature logs and maintenance records showed that the heating system was functioning adequately at the time, with the exception of two breakdowns that were quickly repaired. The inmate's medical records showed no indication of temperature-based health complaints. The court also noted that extra blankets were made available to inmates, and the prison supplemented the heating system with a program to insulate cells by taping plastic sheeting over the windows and by cleaning heating ducts. (Stateville Correctional Center, illinois)

U.S. District Court


Waring v. Meachum, 175 F.Supp.2d 230 (D.Conn. 2001). Inmates brought several class actions against prison administrators and correctional officers alleging constitutional violations during a lockdown. The actions were consolidated and the district court granted summary judgment in favor of the defendants. The court held that where a genuine emergency exists, officials may be more restrictive than they otherwise maybe, and certain services may be suspended temporarily without violating the Eighth Amendment. The lockdown was precipitated by a series of prisoner assaults on staff and other prisoners. According to the court, the provision of cold food is not, by itself, an Eighth Amendment violation as long as it is nutritionally adequate and is prepared and served under conditions that do not present an immediate danger to the health and well-being of the inmates who consume it. The prisoners had been served primarily sandwiches for lunch and dinner, and cold cereal for breakfast, during an eight-day lockdown. T he court noted that the diet was without fruits and vegetables, but that it was imposed for only a short period. According to the court, any failure to provide religious diets during the course of the eight-day lockdown did not violate the Eighth Amendment absent evidence of deliberate indifference. The court noted that one inmate's first meal was confiscated but future meals were delivered, often in an untimely manner, and that a second inmate missed two meals during the lockdown. The court held that a delay in delivering a medically-prescribed diet for six days during the lockdown did not violate the Eighth Amendment. The court found that refusal to allow prisoners to shower during the eight-day lockdown did not rise to the level of an Eighth Amendment violation, nor was failure to provide prisoners with changes of clothing during the lockdown. The court found no constitutional violation in the alleged failure to provide adequate heat the cellblocks during the eight-day lockdown during the winter. Temperatu res in the cellblocks were at least 60 degrees, heat could not be controlled by individual officers, and officers promptly covered any windows that were broken by inmates. (Connecticut Correctional Institution at Somers)
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Publication:Corrections Caselaw Quarterly
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Feb 1, 2002
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