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…

Read More

By David Reutter The Third Circuit Court of Appeals held on August 26, 2013 that a judge may resolve factual disputes relevant to the exhaustion of administrative remedies without the participation of a jury. It also held the district court had erred in finding a failure to exhaust where a prisoner did not receive a…

Read More

By Dianne Frazee-Walker

Recently, a video was released that reveals relentless brutality in the Denver City jail by correctional officers. The inmate, Mr. Moreno, is mentally-ill, suicidal, and the victim of extreme violence that is unnecessary.

Correctional officers attempt to control Moreno by forcing him to strip down to nothing and placing him in a suicidal garment appropriately named a “turtle suit” that is too small for Moreno. The sardonic purpose of the suit is to protect Moreno from self-harm. Moreno has been evicted of any self-pride or dignity he might have left. He is powerless.     

The 45-minute footage — obtained September of 2013 by The Colorado Independent through an open records request — depicts Moreno sitting on a cold cement bench that doubles as a bed inside an isolation cell not much bigger than a dog kennel. Moreno’s 45-minutes of hell on tape begin with him bewilderedly looking around the cell. Immobilized and stifled from the combination of constricted attire and cramped quarters, Moreno fidgets with his “turtle suit” and mimics a caged animal by pacing back in forth and shifting his body from side to side. His only means for expressing his pent up anger and frustration is to bang his head against the cement cinder-block wall.  

Eight officers assemble outside the cell with a restraint-chair that is supposedly designed to stop Moreno from harming himself. Not knowing what else to do, Moreno resumes hitting his head on the cell wall. After several minutes a correctional officer asks Moreno to stop pounding his head against the wall Moreno’s only possible response to the emotional horror he is going through.  Moreno lets the officer know he doesn’t care about anything and resorts to yelling obscenities.

Read More

By Christopher Zoukis

Prisoners who claim they were assaulted by guards in violation of the Eighth Amendment are not barred from challenging such abuse in court even if they were found guilty of disciplinary charges in connection with the incident, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals has held. Moreover, it is erroneous for a district court to rely on a guard’s written account of the incident when videotape evidence is readily available.

In overturning a grant of summary judgment in favor of a prison guard, the Court of Appeals ruled that the guard’s alleged act of slamming a handcuffed prisoner into a wall and then to the floor was an event legally distinct from the prisoner’s alleged assault on the guard moments earlier. Prison guards who use excessive force after subduing prisoners are not immunized from court oversight as a result of disciplinary infractions against the prisoner, the Sixth Circuit wrote.

Michigan state prisoner Toran V. Peterson filed suit in federal court, claiming that a prison guard identified only as “Jones” had, without provocation, pushed up on his handcuffed arms to “slam” him into a wall, then lifted him three feet off the ground to slam him to the floor. Peterson was not seriously injured but filed a 42 U.S.C. § 1983 complaint, alleging cruel and unusual punishment in violation of the Eighth Amendment among other claims.

Read More

The Eighth Amendment’s prohibition against “cruel and unusual punishment” includes a bar to the use of “excessive force” by prison officials against prisoners. Hudson v. McMillian, 503 U.S. 1, 8 (1992). When a prisoner makes an Eighth Amendment claim of excessive force, courts consider two elements: (1) the objective severity of the prisoner’s injuries from…

Read More