People who are in prison usually speak of the harsh conditions of the prisons. In some cases, those complaints are unfounded and the person just doesn’t like the rules of confinement. There are some cases, however, in which the prisoners do have valid concerns. A recent case before a federal appeals court shows how harsh conditions can sometimes be in prisons.
An appeals court has opted to deny a man’s petition to punish the Oregon Department of Corrections and 11 officials who were named in a lawsuit brought forth by a prisoner in solitary confinement. The prisoner spent more than two years in solitary confinement because of possessing a weapon. For 27 months, the man was held in his cell for 23 hours and 20 minutes. During the 40 minutes he was allowed out of his cell, he could spend 30 minutes doing recreational activities, 15 minutes of which could be outside.
Despite the ruling against the man, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals did note that the 33-year-old man was subjected to significant and atypical hardship. It also noted that the man’s housing status should have been reviewed, but that the DoC and officials qualified for immunity.
The unit the man was in was the Intensive Management Unit, which denies prisoners access to group religious worship and law libraries, among other activities. The prisoners have very strict visitation limits and aren’t allowed to use the telephone except for in emergency situations.
While this man didn’t win the appeal he hoped he would, his case did bring a serious issue to light. It brought attention to inmates who aren’t being afforded their rights to due process in regard to their housing status. Any prisoner who feels his or her rights have been violated might be able to file civil litigation against the prison to get the situation noticed and potentially rectified.
Source: OregonLive, “Oregon prisoner locked in solitary confinement 27 months loses appeal to punish prison system” Bryan Denson, May. 03, 2014