AELE LAW LIBRARY OF CASE SUMMARIES:
Corrections Law for Jails, Prisons and Detention Facilities
Law Journal Article: Shackling of Pregnant
Prisoners, 2009 (12)
AELE Mo. L. J. 301.
Monthly Law Journal Article: Restraint and Asphyxia: Part One – Restraint Ties, 2008 (12) AELE Mo. L.J. 101.
Monthly Law Journal Article: Restraint and Asphyxia: Part Two – Compressional Asphyxia, 2009 (1) AELE Mo. L.J. 101.
Monthly Law Journal Article: The Use of Electronic Control Weapons Against Handcuffed or Restrained Persons - Part 2, 2012 (10) AELE Mo. L. J. 101.
Monthly Law Journal Article: Prisoner Restraint and Court Appearances, 2017 (11) AELE Mo. L. J. 301.
A federal trial court’s district-wide policy of routinely shackling all pretrial detainees in the courtroom violated the Fifth Amendment’s due process clause. Before a government entity seeks to shackle a criminal defendant, it must first justify the infringement with specific security needs as to that particular defendant. Before a presumptively innocent defendant may be shackled, the court must make an individualized decision that a compelling government purpose would be served and that shackles are the least restrictive means for maintaining security and order in the courtroom. The en banc court held that there was still a live controversy over the shackling policy and the case was not moot, despite the policy having been changed, because of the capable-of-repetition-yet-evading-review exception to mootness. The en banc court clarified the right to be free from shackles and held that it applies whether the proceeding is pretrial, trial, or sentencing, with a jury or without. Although the court held that the policy was unconstitutional, it withheld the issuance of a formal writ of mandamus because the policy was no longer in effect. U.S. v. Sanchez-Gomez, #13-50561, 859 F.3d 649 (9th Cir. 2017).
A prisoner who spent three and a half hours on a restraint board sued correctional officers and medical staff members for alleged violations of his civil rights. The trial court dismissed all claims except an Eighth Amendment excessive force claim against a lieutenant who authorized the use of the restraint board. A federal appeals court held that it was erroneous to deny qualified immunity to the defendant lieutenant. Under the totality of the circumstances, he was entitled to qualified immunity even if he may have been mistaken in believing that the prisoner was trying to injure himself when placed on the board. The prisoner had violated rules for obtaining medical assistance, falsely claimed a medical emergency, and seriously disrupted medical operations. Discipline was warranted after nurses reported that he had contrived a medical emergency and could safely be placed on the restraint board. Using the restraint in accordance with the safety precautions required by prison policy was needed to preserve internal order and discipline and to maintain institutional security. Jackson v. Gutzmer, #16-2184, 866 F.3d 969 (8th Cir. 2017).
A female prisoner was in county
custody for a nonviolent offense when she gave birth to her son. She sued after
her release, claiming that her federal civil rights were violated by her being
shackled and restrained during labor as well as during postpartum recovery. A
federal appeals court vacated and remanded the trial court's grant of summary
judgment for the county defendants on most of the plaintiff's shackling claims,
finding that the question of whether the U.S. Constitution allows law
enforcement officers to restrain a female inmate while she is pregnant, in
labor, or during postpartum recovery was one of first impression. In this case,
the answer to that question depended on factual disputes about whether the
restraint policy was justified that a properly instructed jury had to resolve.
The appeals court rejected equal protection claims as no evidence of
discriminatory intent was shown. Mendiola-Martinez v. Arpaio, #14-15189, 836
F.3d 1239 (9th Cir. 2016).
A federal district court failed to provide adequate justification for a restrictive prisoner shackling policy under which pretrial detainees brought before the court were placed in full shackle restraints for court appearances, including arraignments unless the judge specifically requested that the restrains be removed. Such a policy cannot be based primarily on the economic strain of the jailer in providing adequate safeguards. Instead, the policy must be supported by an "adequate justification of its necessity." United States v. Sanchez-Gomez, #13-50561, 798 F.3d 1204 (9th Cir. 2015).
A prisoner claimed that hia Eighth Amendment rights were violated when he was secured and kept in a four-point restraint chair naked for 14 hours, although he allegedly did not pose a threat to himself or others. He had a long history of mental illness, which included schizo-affective disorder and bipolar disorder. His symptoms had intensified after his detention in solitary confinement, during which he was kept in his cell 23 hours a day, with one hour of daily recreation in a solitary pen on weekdays. He suffered from both auditory and visual hallucinations, paranoid thoughts, episodes of self-harm, suicidal impulses, and episodes of smearing or throwing his own feces. A federal appeals court vacated summary judgment for the defendants, finding that, viewing the facts in the light most favorable to the plaintiff, there were genuine issues of material fact as to whether he posed an imminent threat at the time of the restraint. Young v. Martin, #13-4057, 2015 U.S. App. Lexis 15922 (3rd Cir.).
A sexually violent person civil detainee claimed that security guards accompanying him to a courthouse refused to remove his hand restraints while he attempted to use a restroom there, and laughed as he struggled to unzip his pants and urinate. He was secured with leg shackles, a wrist chain, handcuffs, and a black-box restraint that fit over the chain between handcuffs and a portion of the cuffs themselves, largely immobilizing the hands in front of the body approximately two inches apart. A jury awarded him $1,000 in compensatory damages. A federal appeals court found that the trial judge improperly failed to instruct the jury that the plaintiff had to prove that the guards had a purposeful, knowing, or possibly reckless state of mind with respect to their actions or inaction toward him. At the same time, the court noted that a security directive allowed the guards to call their supervisor for permission to remove the restraints, and a reasonable jury could find that they chose not to do so for the purpose of humiliating him. He had no means of escape from the windowless restroom other than by force through the two younger, bigger, and healthier guards, and he would still be wearing leg shackles if the hand restraints were removed. The guards were therefore not entitled to qualified immunity on a due process claim as it was clearly established that the unreasonable use of body restraints in a manner that served to punish a civilly committed person was unlawful. Further proceedings were ordered. Davis v. Wessel, #13-3416, 2015 U.S. App. Lexis 11685 (7th Cir.).
A prisoner suffered symptoms of acute appendicitis, and was sent to a hospital emergency room the following day based on the recommendation of the prison doctor. The officer who accompanied the prisoner initially refused to remove his restraints, allegedly causing a 45 minute delay in treatment. The prisoner allegedly suffered nerve damage to his leg during the surgery, and the prison doctor allegedly subsequently decline to prescribe Neurontin for pain from the nerve damage, a medication that other doctors indicated was necessary. A federal appeals court found that the defendants (the prison doctor and correctional officer) had waived possible qualified immunity defense by failing to assert them in an answer to the complaint. Allowing them to assert that defense at this point in the proceeding, after discovery issues had been litigated for a number of years would unduly prejudice the plaintiff. Henricks v. Gonzalez, #13-4468, 2015 U.S. App. Lexis 5646, 2015 Fed. App. 0065P (6th Cir.).
A correctional officer entered a cell where an inmate had been assigned for a medical assessment. The prisoner was uncooperative and aggressively resisted when asked to sit on the bunk, and he bit the officer's abdomen when he was forcibly placed on the bed. He was subsequently placed in four-point restraints at approximately 9:10 a.m., and not removed from them until 3:45 p.m. the next day. At a disciplinary hearing, the prisoner was found guilty of assaulting the officer and suffered a loss of privileges. The prisoner filed a habeas corpus petition claiming his Fifth Amendment due process rights were violated by placing him in four point restraints without a hearing. The trial court dismissed, finding that a habeas petition was not the correct vehicle to raise claims about the conditions of confinement. A federal appeals court reversed and remanded, finding that the trial court should have "liberally construed" the petition, which the prisoner filed while acting as his own attorney, and given him the option to pursue a federal civil rights claim rather than dismissing the case. Spencer v. Haynes, #13-3460, 2014 U.S. App. Lexis 23699 (8th Cir.).
A prisoner who was convicted at a trial after being forced to wear visible shackles during the proceeding was entitled to a new trial. The appeals court said that the "sight of a shackled litigant is apt to make jurors think they're dealing with a mad dog." There was nothing to show that other security measures or methods of concealing the restraints would not have been feasible, or that the prisoner was so violent as to require being manacled at all. There was no incident when his handcuffs were removed while he testified. The proposed "curative instruction" that the trial judge declined to give to the jury would not have been adequate to overcome the prejudice arising from the combination of the guards' uniforms, the prison uniform, and the visible manacles. Maus v. Baker, #13-2420, 2014 U.S. App. Lexis 6307 (7th Cir.).
A pre-trial detainee at a juvenile facility who arrived there at the age of 11 claimed that his Fourteenth Amendment due process rights were violated by the regular use on him of a "Pro-Straint Restraining Chair, Violent Prisoner Model." The chair, which was equipped with wrist, chest and ankle restraints, was sometimes used in a legitimate effort to prevent him from committing suicide, but he claimed that it was mostly used to improperly punish him. A federal appeals court upheld the denial of qualified immunity to all defendants but one,. That one defendant was granted qualified immunity on a claim that he was liable for failure to transfer the detainee to a nearby unlocked shelter where he had been housed before and had apparently been disobedient. Blackmon v. Sutton, #12-3199, 2013 U.S. App. Lexis 22680 (10th Cir).
Both medical professionals and other defendants were entitled to summeay judgment on a sexually violent civil detainee's claim that they acted with deliberate indifference to his serious medical needs by requiring that he wear leg irons every time he was transported out of the facility, when his legs were swollen and possibly cancerous. There was no medical evidence, other than the detainee's own personal opinion, that there was a medical need to exempt him from the routine use of metal leg shackles. The non-medical defendants were reasonable in relying on the medical professionals' opinion that there was no reason not to use the shackles on the detainee. The detainee showed that his legs became swollen when he walked four blocks, but failed to show evidence of any other resulting injury. McGee v. Adams, #11-2666, 2013 U.S. App. Lexis 16039 (7th Cir.).
An arrestee who appeared intoxicated actively resisted officers both during the process of being arrested and when taken into jail. He was handcuffed and pepper sprayed. Then, at the jail, when he continued to resist, he was held down and a Taser was applied to him three times in the stun mode. He was held face down, ceased breathing, and was taken to a hospital where he died. A medical expert for the plaintiff expressed the opinion that his cause of death was traumatic asphyxia due to compression of his neck and back while being restrained. A federal appeals court ruled that the defendant officers were entitled to qualified immunity when there was insufficient evidence to support the strangulation theory, since only the expert's conclusory opinion supported it. That opinion was contradicted by other evidence, including the testimony of all the officers and two EMTs. Burdine v. Sandusky County, Ohio, #12-3672, 2013 U.S. App. Lexis 7691, 2013 Fed. App. 376N, 2013 WL 1606906 (Unpub. 6th Cir.).
A pregnant woman was being held as an immigration detainee and classified as a medium-security inmate. She was restrained and shackled prior to giving birth and claimed that this violated her rights. A federal trial court granted her summary judgment on liability and a jury awarded her $200,000 in damages. A federal appeals court reversed, finding that summary judgment on liability had been improper. There were genuine material factual issues as to whether she had been shown to be a flight risk, as well as conflicting expert testimony about the alleged negative effects of shackling on pregnant inmates. It was also not established whether or not the officers involved in her restraint had any knowledge about a no restraint order. Villegas v. Metro. Gov't of Nashville & Davidson Cty., #11-6031, 2013 U.S. App. Lexis 4382, 2013 Fed. App. 59P (6th Cir.).
Persons civilly committed to a state sex offender program failed to show that their rights were violated by the use of restraints during transport, or unclothed visual body searches. The searches were justified by institutional security concerns, and the policy of restraining sex offenders during transport was a valid exercise of professional judgment. There was no evidence that the defendants were deliberately indifferent to the plaintiffs' health, safety, and sanitation concerns. There was also no showing that the alleged improper opening of their legal mail interfered with their access to the court or that monitoring their phone calls was not justified by security concerns. Beaulieu v. Ludeman, #11–1845, 690 F.3d 1017 (8th Cir.)
A prisoner claimed that after he refused to stand for an afternoon prisoner count, officers grabbed him from his cell, handcuffed him, and left him in an observation cell in an uncomfortable position for approximately 12 hours. During that time, he asserted, he was not able to push a button to ask for water or pull down his pants to use the toilet. If true, these actions violated his Eighth Amendment rights, since there was no legitimate reason to keep him restrained in handcuffs after putting him in the cell or for denying him use of the toilet or access to water for that length of time. Barker v. Goodrich, #10-3195, 2011 U.S. App. Lexis 16411 (6th Cir.).
A prisoner filed suit, claiming that a correctional officer attacked him in his cell, and that he was then denied adequate medical treatment. A jury returned a verdict for the defendants, and the prisoner appealed, arguing that he had been denied a fair trial on his claims because he had been required to appear in court in shackles (both handcuffs and leg irons). A federal appeals court stated that requiring a party in a civil trial to appear n shackles can, indeed, constitute a denial of due process if the restraints are not necessary. In this case, however, any error in ordering that the prisoner remain shackled throughout the trial was harmless, in light of indications from the Department of Corrections that the prisoner was considered "very high risk," and was a "very assaultive inmate." Sides v. Cherry, #08-1982, 2010 U.S. App. Lexis 12771 (3rd Cir.).
A federal prisoner was injured in an accident, slipping on a cart left in a doorway. He was referred to an orthopedic clinic outside the prison. Prior to being transported there, a prison employee allegedly required him to put on a jumpsuit, despite his protests that putting his arms through the sleeves would cause him severe pain. Two employees also allegedly forced him to wear a "black box" mechanical restraint device despite his complaints about the resulting pain. He also claimed that a doctor's direction that his left elbow be put into a posterior splint for two weeks was not followed at the prison because of limitations in staffing and facilities. He was allegedly unable to feed or bathe himself for several weeks, and prison employees failed to make alternative arrangements for him. He filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against the private company that ran the prison under a contract with the federal Bureau of Prisons, as well as a number of their employees, claiming violation of his constitutional rights. Overturning dismissal of the lawsuit, a federal appeals court ruled that the company's employees acted under color of federal law for purposes of a civil rights lawsuit. Pollard v. GEO Group, Inc., #07-16112, 2010 U.S. App. Lexis 11496 (9th Cir.).
A woman died after being placed in four-point restraints and put into a vehicle face down for transport to jail. Upholding summary judgment for the defendant deputies and county in a federal civil rights lawsuit, the court, assuming the facts in the light most favorable to the plaintiff, assumed that the decedent died from positional asphyxia. The plaintiffs, however, failed to show that the use of the restraints was unnecessary, or excessively disproportionate to the resistance the deputies faced from the prisoner, so that no reasonable jury could have found that the deputies used excessive force to subdue her. The plaintiff also failed to sufficiently prove a claim for alleged inadequate monitoring of the prisoner during transport. Loggins v. Carroll County, Mississippi, #08-60516, 2009 U.S. App. Lexis 23730 (5th Cir.).
A prisoner claimed that her constitutional rights were violated when she was shackled to a bed while she was giving birth. A state corrections department director was entitled to qualified immunity from liability because he was not personally involved in the incident and had not established any policies to require or encourage the shackling of pregnant prisoners. A corrections officer directly involved in the shackling, however, was not entitled to qualified immunity, given that she stated that the prisoner, who was a non-violent offender, had not done or said anything to indicate that she was an escape risk or that she posed any other threat. There was evidence from which a fact finder could decide that the officer, in shackling the prisoner's ankles to opposite sides of a hospital bed during the final stages of labor, acted with deliberate indifference to her serious medical needs. She allegedly knew that the prisoner had severe pain, that the labor was risky, and that hospital personnel had requested that she be unshackled. The officer also allegedly failed to abide by administrative regulations requiring her to balance medical and security concerns in deciding whether to shackle the inmate. At the time of the incident, September of 2003, the prisoner's right to be free from unnecessary suffering was clearly established. Nelson v. Correctional Medical Services; #07-2481, 2009 U.S. App. Lexis 21730 (8th Cir.).
A prisoner claimed that he had been denied a fair trial because he was tried in leg restraints. In light of the fact that the prisoner was an already convicted person being tried for a murder committed in prison, and that a number of other convicted prisoners testified at his trial, any error in having him shackled during the trial was harmless. Further, evidence of his guilt was "overwhelming," including evidence that he beat the victim in front of numerous witnesses and continued to beat him after he fell. The prisoner himself did not deny the beating, and the victim was handcuffed at the time. Since the jury clearly knew that he was a prisoner, viewing him in leg restraints did not prejudice him. Tamez v. Thaler, #08-40615, 2009 U.S. App. Lexis 20231 (Unpub. 5th Cir.).
A detainee suffering from organ failure was taken to a hospital and restrained there by a handcuff attached to his bed. He died there from causes unrelated to the handcuffing. A federal appeals court rejected civil rights claims, holding that the use of handcuffs in these circumstances was neither punitive nor excessive. There were legitimate and important security interests involved in keeping detainees or prisoners adequately restrained while they receive off-site medical treatment. A negligence claim under the Federal Tort Claims Act was also rejected, in the absence of any evidence of actual injury flowing from the alleged negligence. At most, the plaintiff showed that there may have been some "friction marks" on the detainee's wrists from the handcuffs. Hoyte v. Wagner, #07-4138, 2009 U.S. App. Lexis 2197 (Unpub. 3rd Cir.).
Further proceedings were ordered on prisoner's claim that his Eighth Amendment rights were violated when he was continuously restrained in ambulatory restraints that allegedly prevented him from lying flat on his bed, bathing, or cleaning himself in a proper manner after using the toilet. The trial court improperly ruled for the defendants based only on written discovery materials, which failed to adequately address the subjective mental state of the defendant correctional employees. There were also factual issues as to whether the prisoner's alleged failure to timely file a grievance concerning the issue was excused because his restraint, followed by his 30 days of solitary confinement after his release from the restraints prevented him from filing a grievance within 20 days. Womack v. Smith, No. 08-2229, 2009 U.S. App. Lexis 2840 (3rd Cir. Unpub.).
In a inmate's lawsuit claiming that corrections officers violated the Eighth Amendment in failing to adequately decontaminate him after subjecting him to pepper spray, and in holding him in restraints for eighteen hours, a federal court ruled that a reasonable officer could have believed that allowing the prisoner to briefly shower before he was placed into restraints, as well as rinse his eyes with saline, was adequate to avoid a rights violation. Normally, the effects of pepper spray are gone after 45 minutes. Claims related to the decontamination were therefore rejected. Further proceedings were ordered, however, as to whether an officer could have believed that it was reasonable to restrain the prisoner for eighteen hours, when it was disputed whether the prisoner made threatening gestures or verbal threats. Montgomery v. Johnson, Case No. 7:05CV00131, 2008 U.S. Dist. Lexis 74256 (W.D. Va.).
A pregnant prisoner brought to a hospital for labor, was kept shackled to the bed at all times, except when medical personnel requested that the shackles be removed. A federal appeals court ruled that the policy of shackling inmates while they received medical treatment did not constitute deliberate indifference to their medical needs, and the shackling policy was reasonably related to legitimate penological interests. Nelson v. Correctional Medical Services, No. 07-2481, 2008 U.S. App. Lexis 15270 (8th Cir.).
Placing a prisoner in a four-point restraint and keeping him shackled to his bed in this manner for four hours did not violate his substantive due process rights, and doing this, as well as fastening the restraints without the presence of the nurse were not an "atypical and significant hardship," but an expected "adverse consequence" of his confinement when the prisoner was accused of biting the prison guard at the time the restraints were applied. Grinter v. Knight, No. 05-6755, 2008 U.S. App. Lexis 12919 (6th Cir.).
Summary judgment should not have been entered against a prisoner on his excessive force claims since there were genuine factual disputes as to whether officers used force against him, including pepper spray, after he had begun to comply with their orders to him. Additionally, he allegedly was not warned before the use of the pepper spray, was not permitted to clean up after its use, and was then handcuffed to a bench and denied bathroom breaks, food, and water during that restraint. Walker v. Bowersox, No. 06-3118, 2008 U.S. App. Lexis 11507 (8th Cir.).
Prior to trying to get a court-ordered blood sample from a detainee at a county jail, employees there placed him in a three-point restraint, and a blanket was allegedly placed against his head. The prisoner then allegedly stopped breathing and, while CPR was attempted, he was subsequently pronounced dead at a hospital. Upholding summary judgment for defendant correctional officers and county, as well as the county sheriff, a federal appeals court noted that the detainee had resisted arrest, was "aggressive" at the time of the incident, and that it took several officers to restrain him. The officers were then faced with the need to make a quick decision about how to control him, and the court found that they did not apply excessive force in doing so. Burkett v. Alachua County, No. 06-14777, 2007 U.S. App. Lexis 24172 (11th Cir.).
Use of restraints on prisoner at county jail after she stated that she was having suicidal thoughts and wanted to try to make herself bleed to death did not shock the conscience or violate her due process rights. Norris v. Engles, No. 06-3394, 2007 U.S. App. Lexis 18838 (8th Cir.).
California intermediate court issues order setting aside juvenile court policy of having sheriff's department shackle all minors during court prisoners without a case-by-case determination of the need for such restraints. In making such a determination, factors to be considered included the type of proceeding, courtroom or security considerations, and the behavior and conduct of the juvenile. Tiffany A. v. The Superior Court of Los Angeles County, No. B193134, 2007 Cal. App. Lexis 783 (Cal. App. 2nd Dist.).
Prisoner stated viable claim for excessive use of force by alleging that he was placed in hand restraints, and taken to a holding cell after his attempt to enter the prison library caused a metal detector to sound, and then that a guard repeatedly tightened the restraints on his hands for approximately 20 minutes, followed by kicking him to the ground. Viable claims were also asserted against other defendants who allegedly either threatened the prisoner for his prior involvement in litigation or else "stood by and watched" while other persons threatened or assaulted him. Clark v. Argutto, No. 06-12350, 2007 U.S. App. Lexis 6445 (11th Cir.).
Officers who placed prisoner in restraints during suicide watch did not use excessive force or place him there with the intent of harming him. Additionally, verbal insults by two officers after his suicide attempt did not amount to cruel and unusual punishment. Martinez v. Zadroga, No. 06-1410, 2007 U.S. App. Lexis 1769 (10th Cir.). [N/R]
Prisoner's rights were not violated by placing him in shackles and handcuffs while obtaining dental treatment when the prison's routine security measures provided that prisoners were subject to such restrains whenever they left their assigned areas. Samuel v. First Correctional Medical, No. 05-037, 2006 U.S. Dist. Lexis 87247 (D.Del.). [N/R]
In inmates' lawsuit claiming that, while being transported, they were subjected for 10 to 15 hours in restraints so tight that many of them were injured and were denied access to water, defendant officers were entitled to qualified immunity, because the law on the use of severely tight restrains and denial of water for an extended period being constitutional violations was not "clearly established" until two years after the incident in question, in the U.S. Supreme Court case of Hope v. Pelzer, #01-309, 536 U.S. 730 (2002). Anderson-Bey v. District of Columbia, No. 00-2000, 2006 U.S. Dist. Lexis 88891 (D.D.C.). [N/R]
Former pre-trial detainee asserted possibly viable claims as to whether his rights were violated when he was placed in four-point restraints, chained to a wall in a rubber room, and denied hearings before being punished. Claims for injunctive relief were properly rejected, however, when he was no longer confined at the jail where these incidents took place. Hanks v. Prachar, No. 05-2410, 2006 U.S. App. Lexis 19821 (8th Cir.).[2006 JP Oct]
Michigan court finds that the cause of a prisoner's death was his suicide, and not anything that city or county personnel did, so that they were entitled to governmental immunity from liability under state law. Cooper v. Washtenaw County, No. 262141, 713 N.W.2d 908 (Mich. App. 2006). [N/R]
The decision by a prison nurse to place a prisoner in four-point restraint was not shown to be retaliation for his prior lawsuits against other prison personnel, when there was no evidence that the nurse even knew of those lawsuits, and she was not named as a defendant in a lawsuit until after the incident. Ziemba v. Clark, No. 05-1613, 167 Fed. Appx. 831 (2nd Cir. 2006). [N/R]
Federal appeals court overturns order upholding requirement that all pre-trial detainees be shackled while making their first appearance in criminal cases before magistrate judges. Federal district court, in issuing its order, provided no explanation or justification for the policy based on past safety problems or existing circumstances. U.S. v. Howard, No. 03-50524, 2005 U.S. App. Lexis 24527 (9th Cir.). [2006 JB Jan]
Placement of leg irons on prisoner during escorted medical trip did not violate prisoner's clearly established constitutional rights. Prison officials used their best judgment in applying such restraints to this prisoner during the transport, and the officers did not deliberately inflict pain on the prisoner in the manner in which the restraints were placed. Perez Olivo v. Gonzalez, No. CIV.01-1515, 384 F. Supp. 2d 536 (D. Puerto Rico, 2005). [N/R]
U.S. Supreme Court rules that the use of visible shackles, whether during the guilt phase of a criminal trial or the penalty phase of a capital case, is a violation of constitutional due process unless it is justified by specific findings concerning the need for such restraint of the particular defendant based on "essential" interests like courtroom security. Deck v. Missouri, No. 04-5293, 2005 U.S. Lexis 4180. [2005 JB Jul]
Correctional officer did not use excessive force in using restraints to keep prisoner seated in wheelchair while escorting him to optometrist when prisoner was repeatedly moving himself between the wheelchair and another seat in the doctor's waiting room. Munera v. Metro West Detention Center, No. 02-23612-CIV, 351 F. Supp. 2d 1353 (S.D. Fla. 2004).[N/R]
Reasonable prison officials should have understood, in 1998, that placing a mentally ill prisoner in four-point restraints for twenty-two hours without food, water, or access to a bathroom, and without the necessity for continued restraint, violated the Eighth Amendment, so that defendants were not entitled to qualified immunity in the prisoner's lawsuit alleging such conduct. Ziemba v. Armstrong, No. CIV.A.3-98-CV-2344, 343 F. Supp. 2d 173 (D. Conn. 2004). [N/R]
Federal judge sets aside jury verdict for correctional officials, and rules, as a matter of law, that keeping a prisoner in five-point restraints for almost forty-eight hours without periodic review of whether continued restraint was justified violated due process and constituted cruel and unusual punishment. Based on prisoner's conduct during brief releases, continued restraint was unjustified after three hours. Warden, while not personally involved in the incident, was liable because he failed to take corrective action after reading reports of eight prior similar incidents. Sadler v. S.K. Young, 325 F. Supp. 2d 689 (W.D. Va. 2004). [2004 JB Nov]
Prisoner was properly awarded $1,500 in compensatory damages for allegedly being left in restraint chair for long periods of time, and $500 for alleged excessive use of force against him, but trial court properly did not award punitive damages in light of fact that the prisoner admitted disobeying orders, and that the facility had not developed policies governing the use of the restraint chair. Guerra v. Drake, #03-3137, 371 F.3d 404 (8th Cir. 2004). [2004 JB Sep]
Prison official was entitled to qualified immunity against prisoner's claim that he used excessive force against him when handcuffing him, resulting in a lacerated wrist and injured thumb. The prisoner admitted that he violated facility cuffing procedures by withdrawing his uncuffed hand and disobeying the officer's orders, and defendant reasonably believed that the plaintiff prisoner was trying to pull the cuffs into his cell in order to possibly use them as a weapon. Avery v. Anderson, No. 03-4213, 94 Fed. Appx. 735 (10th Cir. 2004). [N/R]
Prisoner was not entitled to damages for use of back restraints after his disciplinary conviction. He failed to show that their use was an "atypical and significant hardship in relation to the ordinary incidents of prison life," and rash which he allegedly suffered from the use of the restrains was not "serious harm" as required to support a claim for deliberate indifference to a serious medical need. Tasby v. Cain, #03-30334, 86 Fed. Appx. 745 (5th Cir. 2004). [N/R]
Correctional officers did not violate inmate's Eighth Amendment rights by restraining him for approximately 20 hours on a stretcher. Prisoner had kicked a door and assaulted a correctional officer, and after he was placed on a stretcher, the officers loosened his handcuffs and allowed him "numerous" bathroom breaks, as well as food, liquids, and medications. Action in feeding him a disciplinary diet of "nutra-loaf" was also not an Eighth Amendment violation, despite the prisoner's claim that he experienced adverse effects, including vomiting, burning in his chest and throat, and frequent bowel movements. These effects were not "serious medical conditions," and there was no order or instruction from medical personnel to stop the "nutra-loaf" diet. Myers v. Milbert, 281 F. Supp. 2d 859 (N.D.W.Va. 2003). [N/R]
County jail personnel's actions in strapping a female detainee naked and spread-eagle to a restraining board for three and a half hours and failing to cover her, allowing her to be observed by male officers, violated her constitutional right to privacy, but defendants were entitled to qualified immunity on federal civil rights claim, as the right violated was not "clearly established" at the time. State law award of $2,500 in damages for violation of privacy is upheld. Hill v. McKinley, #01-2574, 311 F.3d 899 (8th Cir. 2002). [2003 JB Feb.]
U.S. Supreme Court holds that alleged use of "hitching post" to restrain prisoner outside in hot weather for seven hours without bathroom breaks and with only one or two water breaks, if true, established an Eighth Amendment violation, for which defendant prison officials were not entitled to qualified immunity defense at summary judgment phase of proceedings. Hope v. Pelzer, #01-309, 122 S. Ct. 2508 (2002). [2002 JB Aug]
Pre-trial detainees were entitled to after-the-fact procedural due process protections when they were required to be put in additional restraints when being moved within or outside the jails. This includes the right to a hearing, written decision, and timely review of appeal from placement in special restraint status. Such restraint must be imposed for a legitimate security purpose rather than an impermissible purpose of punishment. Benjamin v. Fraser, #00-9093 & 00-9095, 264 F.3d 175 (2nd Cir. 2001). [N/R]
A prisoner's four-hour immobilization in "four-point" restraints, by itself, did not constitute an atypical and significant hardship sufficient to support a federal civil rights claim. Laws v. Cleaver, 140 F. Supp. 2d 145 (D. Conn. 2001). [N/R]
Prisoner's claim that he was restrained with 5-point restraint for 48 hours because of his race and prior complaints about expressions of racism -- and that he was shown a drawing of a person in a noose -- state a claim for denial of equal protection. Use of restraints for such an extended time period could also constitute excessive use of force. Davis v. Lester, 156 F. Supp. 2d 588 (W.D. Va. 2001). [2002 JB Jan]
295:107 Keeping an inmate handcuffed to a hitching post in the sun for seven hours without regular water or bathroom breaks constituted cruel and unusual punishment; prison guards who did this, however, were entitled to qualified immunity because the law on the subject was not clearly established in 1995. Hope v. Pelzer, No. 00- 12150, 240 F.3d 975 (11th Cir. 2001).
295:106 Overly tight application of handcuffs on a nonviolent detainee may be excessive use of force, in the absence of any indication that detainee would resist or attempt to flee. Kostrzewa v. City of Troy, #00-1037, 247 F.3d 633 (6th Cir. 2001).
EDITOR'S NOTE: See also: Soares v. Connecticut, 8 F.3d 917 (2nd Cir. 1993) (refusing to hold that handcuffing is per se reasonable). In a different factual context, where officers arrested a woman following her physical altercation with her grown daughter, and the arrestee sued, claiming that her wrist was allegedly swollen from being handcuffed, another federal appeals court found that "handcuffing too tightly, without more, does not amount to excessive force." Glenn v. City of Tyler, #00- 40133, 242 F.3d 307 (5th Cir. 2001). This case, in contrast to the one decided by the 6th Circuit, did not involve a nonviolent offense.
[N/R] Whether inmate was placed in a restraint chair to stop his disruptive behavior or for purposes of punishment without procedural due process was a question for the jury to decide, but placement of him in a restraint chair for eight hours did not violate substantive due process under Eighth Amendment standards. Judgment for defendants upheld on appeal. Fuentes v. Wagner, No. 99- 1062, 206 F.3d 335 (3rd Cir. 2000).
[N/R] Former inmate claimed deprivations that were sufficiently atypical to implicate a liberty interest, stating a claim for due process violations in disciplinary proceedings, including placement in full restraints for nearly seven months after disciplinary proceedings allegedly lacking due process protections, and remaining naked in his cell for a number of days. Sims v. Artuz, #97-2674 , 230 F.3d 14 (2nd Cir. 2000)
286:147 County sheriff was not entitled to qualified immunity from lawsuit by 52-year-old prisoner with AIDS challenging an alleged policy of shackling all hospitalized inmates hand and foot 24 hours a day despite also having an armed guard stationed at their hospital room; lawsuit stated claims for denial of access to the courts, denial of equal protection, and excessive bodily restraint of a pretrial detainee. May v. Sheahan, #99-3140, 226 F.3d 876 (7th Cir. 2000).
277:7 Placing prisoner in restraints for twenty-four hours after he threw water at correctional officer did not constitute cruel and unusual punishment; prisoner had no right to a hearing prior to being placed in restraints. Key v. McKinney, #98-2749, 176 F.3d 1083 (8th Cir. 1999).
277:8 Prisoner who slipped and fell down stairs while being escorted to a gymnasium in full restraints did not state claim for cruel and unusual punishment. Pendergrass v. Hodge, 53 F. Supp. 2d 838 (E.D. Va. 1999).
282:90 Use of "L" shape method of restraint was not excessive force when used on prisoner who posed a serious threat to herself and others and when other lesser forms of restraint had proved ineffective; restraint itself caused no physical harm and prison officials were careful to monitor the prisoner while she was restrained in this manner. Campbell v. Sikes, #98-8265, 169 F.3d 1353 (11th Cir. 1999).
269:75 Jury awards almost $13 million to family of schizophrenic man who died of asphyxiation after being placed in restraints face down; trial judge also awards $343,953.70 in attorneys' fees, but rejects one plaintiff's attorney's request for fees of $1,000 per hour. Swans v. City of Lansing, 1998 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 20043 (W.D. Mich. 1998).
274:153 Trial court upholds settlement of prisoners' claim that chaining all prisoners together on "chain gang" work detail put them in danger of injury; court rules that use of "hitching post" on all prisoners who refuse to work was cruel and unusual punishment; private settlement of class action was not subject to limitations on injunctive relief set forth in Prison Litigation Reform Act. Austin v. Hopper, 15 F.Supp.2d 1210 (M.D. Ala. 1998).
[N/R] Allegation that medical director allowed restraints and segregation for prisoner in psychiatric hospital without specific approval from a medical doctor stated a claim for violation of the Eighth Amendment protection against cruel and unusual punishment; prisoner's right to such medical approval in these circumstances was clearly established. Buckley v. Rogerson, No. 96-3108, 133 F.3d 1125 (8th Cir. 1998).
262:154 Prison officials did not violate any clearly established rights of disruptive prisoner who repeatedly threw urine at correctional officers when they maced him and placed him in four-point restraints for twenty-eight hours. Price v. Dixon, 961 F.Supp. 894 (E.D.N.C. 1997).
263:169 Trial court, relying on new study, concludes that "positional asphyxia" was not cause of arrestee's death, questions entire scientific basis for "positional asphyxia." Price v. Co. of San Diego, 990 F.Supp. 1230 (S.D. Cal. 1998). » Editor's Note: The study relied on by the trial court in the decision above has been published as JL Clausen, TC Chan, T Neuman, & GM Vilke, "Restraint Position and Positional Asphyxia" in Vol. 30 Annals of Emergency Medicine, p. 578-586 (Nov. 1997).
[N/R] Court declines to dismiss claims against police chief and municipality based on failure to train allegations after pretrial detainee placed in restraint chair subsequently denied; court also refuses to grant qualified immunity to individual defendants; focus of case is on the issue of dealing with mentally disturbed individuals. Swans v. City of Lansing, 1997 U.S. Dist. Lexis 17264 (W.D. Mich. Aug. 21, 1997).
[N/R] Court upholds criminal conviction under 18 U.S.C. Sec. 241 of a correctional officer for conspiracy to violate the civil rights of a pre-trial detainee who was placed in a restraint chair, based not on the use of restraint chair, but rather on alleged mistreatment of prisoner while he was in it, including pouring boiling water on his groin. U.S. v. Crochiere, 129 F.3d 233 (1st Cir. 1997).
[N/R] Trial court had to hold hearing to determine whether it was necessary to place restraints on prisoner when he appeared to represent himself in court on civil rights claim and should not simply defer to opinions of prison security guards. Davidson v. Riley, 45 F.3d 625 (2nd Cir. 1995).
[N/R] Prisoner did not need to show that disciplinary proceedings were terminated in his favor in order to successfully bring federal civil rights lawsuit over claim that he was disciplined in retaliation for exercising his right of access to the courts. Woods v. Smith, 60 F.3d 1161 (5th Cir. 1995).
223:107 Federal appeals court upholds summary judgment for correctional officer sued by unruly prisoner he placed in restraints; officer did not make the decision to place the prisoner in the restraints or to keep him in them for 73 hours; further proceedings ordered on whether assistant warden approved of the length of restraints and whether such restraint constituted a violation of prisoner's liberty interests. Williams v. Vidor, 17 F.3d 857 (6th Cir. 1994).
[N/R] Handcuffing prisoner from behind violated Eighth Amendment when inmate told officers he suffered from a medical condition that precluded such restraint and officer intentionally inflicted pain on inmate for a significant period of time. Aldape v. Lambert, 34 F.3d 619 (8th Cir. 1994).
Lawsuit alleging guard's negligence in use of leg irons and lockbar was properly dismissed as frivolous; discomfort experienced by prisoner was minor and acts complained of were common and necessary in prison environment. Thomas v. Texas Dept. of Crim. Justice, 848 S.W.2d 797 (Tex. App. 1993).
Trial judge in prisoner's suit alleging excessive force by correctional officers abused his discretion in relying on "selfserving" opinions of fellow correctional officers of the defendants as to what restraints of prisoner were necessary when he appeared in court; hearing should have been held to determine whether restraint of prisoner in leg irons and handcuffs in court were required. Lemons v. Skidmore, 985 F.2d 354 (7th Cir. 1993).
Trial court appropriately ordered inmate's prisoner/witnesses to be shackled when in courtroom because of security concerns and risk of escape. Woods v. Thieret, 5 F.3d 244 (7th Cir. 1993).
Prison officials were entitled to qualified immunity from prisoner's suit against the use of a "black box" placed over his handcuffs to further restrain him whenever he was moved outside of segregation unit. Knox v. McGinnis, 998 F.2d 1405 (7th Cir. 1993).
Pretrial detainee kept in "three-way" chain restraints for a week following his suicide attempt, and not permitted normal use of toilet, awarded $5,000 in compensatory and $2,000 in punitive damages. Jones v. Thompson, 818 F.Supp. 1263 (S.D. Ind. 1993).
Use of black box restraint device over handcuffs while transporting prisoner to and from hospital was not itself cruel and unusual punishment; officers who had no discretion as to whether to use the restraint device could not be held liable for prisoner's wrist injuries. Moody v. Proctor, 986 F.2d 239 (8th Cir. 1993).
Placing prisoner in four-point restraints and gag for 28 hours to restore order following disturbance was not cruel and unusual punishment. Williams v. Burton, 943 F.2d 1572 (11th Cir. 1991).