AELE LAW LIBRARY OF CASE SUMMARIES:
Corrections Law for Jails, Prisons and Detention Facilities
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Monthly Law Journal Article:
Strip Searches to Combat Contraband, 2010
(4) AELE Mo. L. J. 301.
Monthly Law Journal Article: Cross Gender Strip Searches of Prisoners -- Part One, 2010 (5) AELE Mo. L. J. 301.
Monthly Law Journal Article: Cross Gender Strip Searches of Prisoners -- Part Two, 2010 (6) AELE Mo. L. J. 301.
Monthly Law Journal Article: Federal Appeals Court Reexamines Cross-Gender Strip Searches, 2011 (2) AELE Mo. L. J. 301.
Monthly Law Journal Articles: An Update on Jail Strip Searches of General Population Detainees, 2013 (2) AELE Mo. L. J. 301.
The highest court
in New York overturned the quashing of a subpoena duces tecum that the
N.Y. State Commission of Corrections issued to a hospital demanding that
it produce its medical records regarding the care and treatment of an inmate
in the custody of New York City who subsequently died. An exception to
doctor-patient privilege was necessary for the Commission to carry out
its legislated responsibilities and powers to investigate inmate deaths
through its Medical Review Board. The disclosure of the records was also
not barred by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act privacy
rules. Matter of New York City Health and Hospitals Corp., #64, 19 N.Y.3d
239, 969 N.E.2d 765 (2012).
A pretrial detainee under an Illinois Sexually Violent Person Act claimed that his constitutional privacy rights and rights under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA), Pub. L. No. 104-191, 110 Stat. 1936 (1996), were violated by the "stigmatizing effects" of the stamp that the facility affixes to his outgoing mail, which reads "sexually violent person treatment center." Rejecting this claim, a federal appeals court ruled that the prisoner's claim was essentially for defamation, and that the prisoner's "interest in his reputation, by itself, is not protected by the Fourteenth Amendment." As to any claim under HIPAA, the trial court correctly found that the statute does not provide for a private right of action. Carpenter v. Phillips, #10-3176, 2011 U.S. App. Lexis 9417 (Unpub. 7th Cir.).
A male prisoner's lawsuit claiming that a strip search violated his Eighth Amendment rights should have survived summary judgment when he asserted that guards stripped searched him in order to humiliate him, that female civilian spectators and female staff members were present during the search, and that the spectators were allowed to jeer at him and engage in "sexual ridicule." May v. Trancoso, #09-3196, 2011 U.S. App. Lexis 5275 (Unpub. 7th Cir.).
Inmates at a number of federal prisons are allowed to have themselves photographed, either by themselves or with visitors, with the photos paid for by the Inmate Trust fund. A number of them sued federal prison authorities, claiming that a secret practice of retaining duplicate prints of such photos for security related purposes (and charging the cost of these prints to the Inmate Trust Fund) was improper and violated the inmates' rights under the Privacy Act, 5 U.S.C. Sec. 552a. The plaintiffs failed to rebut government affidavits stating that prison personnel did not intentionally or willfully violate the Privacy Act, and that the retained photos were only used for legitimate law enforcement purposes. Issues concerning the use of funds from the Inmate Trust Account for the photo prints were now moot since the plaintiffs were no longer in custody. Maydak v. U.S., #07-5352, 2010 U.S. App. Lexis 26283 (D.C. Cir.).
In Byrd v. Maricopa County Sheriff's Dep't, #07-16640, 583 F.3d 673 (9th Cir., 2009), a three-judge federal appeals panel ruled that a pretrial detainee failed to show that there was any discriminatory intent towards male detainees in subjecting him to a partial strip search and pat down of his groin area by a female cadet officer despite the nearby availability of male detention officers. The detainee was clad only in pink boxer shorts made of very thin material. The search was held to be reasonably related to legitimate objectives and there was no showing of deliberate indifference to any pain the search might have caused because of its cross-gender aspect. Under these circumstances, the court also found, the search did not constitute "punishment." And it held that the search was reasonable under the Fourth Amendment.The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, rehearing the case en banc, by a 6-5 vote overturned this ruling in part, finding that the scope of the intrusion in conducting this non-emergency cross-gender strip search of the detainee's genital area "far exceeded" the scope of searches previously allowed by the court, and that the search was unreasonable as a matter of law. The court majority also focused on the presence of onlookers and the fact that one of them videotaped the searches. The court still rejected equal protection claims based on the fact that such non-emergency cross-gender strip searches were allegedly only conducted on males and not on female detainees and prisoners. It stated that such an equal protection claim could have been further pursued, but that essential elements of such a claim were not fully developed. The dissenting judges would not have characterized the search that occurred as a strip search at all, calling it a pat-down search in light of the fact that the detainee kept on his boxer shorts. Byrd v. Maricopa County Sheriff's Dept., #07-16640, 2011 U.S. App. Lexis 86 (9th Cir. en banc.).
Employees of the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) at a medical facility sued the government under the Privacy Act and Federal Tort Claims Act claiming that an employee roster with confidential personal information was improperly disclosed to inmates and fellow employees. Information in the roster included employees' names, addresses, Social Security numbers, home telephone numbers, pay grades, and other personal information. A federal appeals court ruled that the trial court did not erroneously conclude that the "inadvertent" final act of disclosing the roster was "willful" for purposes of the Privacy Act claim, given the "entire course of conduct." The trial court also did not commit an error in making a non-rebuttable inference of disclosure of the roster as a sanction for the government's destruction of relevant evidence needed in the case. The appeals court upheld the finding that a Privacy Act violation occurred and the dismissal of Federal Tort Claims Act claims. It also ruled that the trial court erred, in part, in limiting some plaintiffs to recovering only $1,000 in statutory damages, as they might also be able to recover greater actual damages for "lost time" spent "dealing with the disclosure." It rejected, however, the assertion that the employees could recover damages for "future protective measures." Beaven v. U.S. Dep't of Justice, #08-5297, 2010 U.S. App. Lexis 19927 (6th Cir.).
A prisoner served sixteen years for crimes of forcible rape, forcible oral copulation, and kidnapping for the purpose of committing rape. He was then sent to a state hospital for possible civil commitment. He sued state officials and psychologists for violation of his constitutional right to privacy in connection with their disclosure of his prison treatment records. Rejecting these claims, a federal appeals court found that a traditional Fourth Amendment right to privacy was "fundamentally incompatible" with the continual and close scrutiny of prisoners and their cells required for security reasons. Prisoners have no legitimate expectation of privacy in their prison treatment records when there is a legitimate penological interest in access to them. Access to such records is needed to protect other inmates and staff members from violence and communicable diseases, and to manage rehabilitation efforts. Whatever remaining constitutional right to privacy the prisoner may have had in his medical records, the California state law providing for a process for the civil commitment of sexually violent predators fell outside of it. Seaton v. Mayberg, #05-56894, 2010 U.S. App. Lexis 13335 (9th Cir.).
A federal appeals court held that an alleged strip search of a male prisoner by a female guard in the absence of exigent circumstances represented an arguable Fourth Amendment claim, so that a lawsuit based on such allegations should not have been dismissed. The court also found, however, that excessive force was not used against the prisoner. Hamer v. Jones, #09-20431, 2010 U.S. App. Lexis 2688 (Unpub. 11th Cir.).
A class action lawsuit claimed that a county sheriff and his staff at the jail subjected persons detained there to needlessly humiliating strip searches, including body cavity searches. The trial court ruled that the defendants were not entitled to judgment as a matter of law, since the lawsuit concerned the manner with which the searches were carried out, rather than the fact of these searches, further noting that the defendants were raising the contention that they were entitled to some form of immunity for the first time even though the lawsuit had been pending for three years. A jury returned a verdict in favor of the class of prisoners on liability, but before the trial on the issue of damages could proceed, the defendants appealed. The appeals court held that denial of the motion for judgment as a matter of law was not immediately appealable, and further, was frivolous. Mercado v. Dart, #09-3092, 2010 U.S. App. Lexis 8788 (7th Cir.).
A prisoner failed to show a causal connection between his transfer, his loss of his bed after he was taken to a hospital for treatment, and his filing of a grievance over an incident in which he was allegedly "yanked" out of a shower and "paraded" naked back to his cell. The court therefore rejected his First Amendment retaliation claim. The court also found that the defendant correctional employees were entitled to qualified immunity on the prisoner's claim that the shower incident violate his Eighth Amendment rights, as he had no clearly established right not to have his naked body exposed in prison. Solan v. Ranck, #07-4571, 2009 U.S. App. Lexis 9987 (Unpub. 3rd Cir.).
A sheriff department's practice of conducting group strip searches of detainees at the county detention facility violated the Fourth Amendment. While the department, in seeking to justify the practice, made general assertions concerning the argument that limited space and staffing required group as opposed to individual strip searches, there was no apparent effort made to carry out individualized searches or to take measures to preserve individual privacy during the strip searches. There was also no evidence presented that the group searches were more likely than individualized strip searches to find contraband. The court also found that a policy of strip searching or subjecting to a visual body cavity search all persons found entitled to release from custody "could not be reconciled" with the Fourth Amendment. Individual defendants, however, were entitled to qualified immunity from liability. Lopez v. Youngblood, #1:07cv0474, 2009 U.S. Dist. Lexis 28508 (E.D. Cal.).
A pretrial detainee failed to show that there was any discriminatory intent towards male detainees in subjecting him to a partial strip search and pat down of his groin area by a female cadet officer despite the nearby availability of male detention officers. The search was reasonably related to legitimate objectives and there was no showing of deliberate indifference to any pain the search might have caused because of its cross-gender aspect. Under these circumstances, the court also found, the search did not constitute "punishment." Byrd v. Maricopa County Sheriff's Dept., #07-16640, 2009 U.S. App. Lexis 10939 (9th Cir.).
A jail's clothing exchange procedure for newly admitted inmates did not constitute a strip search violating the Fourth Amendment and conducted without reasonable suspicion. The plaintiff inmates did not allege that they were subjected to visual or manual body cavity searches during the clothing exchange. They were merely required to remove all their clothing while watched by an officer, in order to prepare to take a shower and then put on jail clothes. The court noted that such clothing exchanges are common practices in jails and prisons, as is the need for officers to be always "vigilant." The procedure did not violate detainee privacy or constitute a "strip search" The plaintiffs, further, admitted that methods were available for them to prevent viewing of their private parts if they wanted to do so. Kelsey v. Wright, #07-0893, 2009 U.S. App. Lexis 10985 (2nd Cir.).
Federal prisoner claimed that the Bureau of Prisons based his transfer to a maximum security facility on "false and fabricated" documents about him maintained in its records, and he sought injunctive relief to undo the transfer. These claims, the court found, could exclusively be addressed under the Privacy Act, 5 U.S.C. Sec 552a, authorizing claims only against federal agencies. The court therefore dismissed the prisoner's constitutional claims, and also dismissed all claims against individuals in their individual capacities. Because the U.S. Department of Justice has exempted the BOP Central Records System from Sec. 552a(d)'s access and amendment provisions, and from Sec. 552a(g)'s civil remedies, the remainder of the prisoner's claims were also dismissed. Lynn v. Lappin, Civil Action No. 08-0418, 2009 U.S. Dist. Lexis 663 (D.D.C.).
While a prisoner sought damages for violation of his civil rights on the basis that false disciplinary charges were filed against him, this amounted to a claim for malicious prosecution, which does not amount to a violation of constitutional rights. Williams v. Dretke, No. 07-11071, 2009 U.S. App. Lexis 512 (5th Cir.).
An alleged violation of Ohio correctional rules and regulations in informing a prisoner's mother that he had Hepatitis C did not constitute negligence or any other viable claim for damages under Ohio state law. The Ohio Court of Claims lacked jurisdiction over any claim concerning violation of the federal constitutional right of privacy based on the improper disclosure of medical records. Petty v. Ohio Dept. of Rehabilitation and Correction, Case No. 2007-07001, 2008 Ohio Misc. Lexis 206 (Oh. Ct. of Claims).
The use of male officers to remove a suicidal prisoner from her cell and remove her clothing was based on staffing exigencies. The clothing was removed so that it could not be used by the inmate to injure herself. The court granted all defendants summary judgment, also ruling that the prisoner's removal from her cell and placement in administrative segregation did not violate her rights, since her past suicidal threats and current conduct justified these actions. Graham v. Van Dycke, No. 05-3397, 2008 U.S. Dist. Lexis 53253 (D. Kan.).
A prisoner could pursue his privacy claim based on a medical provider's alleged policy or custom of making him receive his insulin shots in the waiting room of the prison medical department. The prisoner claimed that this damaged his reputation and that other inmates shunned him on the assumption that he had either Hepatitis C or was HIV-positive. The prisoner could not, however, seek compensatory damages for his emotional distress when he did not suffer any physical injuries, on the basis of the provisions of the Prison Litigation Reform Act, 42 U.S.C. Sec. 1997e(c). Betrand v. Department of Corrections, No. 4:CV-07-859, 2008 U.S. Dist. Lexis 28599 (M.D. Pa.).
Summary judgment was not appropriate for claims under the Privacy Act, 5 U.S.C. Sec. 552a against the Bureau of Prisons (BOP) and the Department of Homeland Security's Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) arising out of their alleged maintaining of inaccurate records concerning a federal prisoner's citizenship. The prisoner was a U.S. citizen and claimed that these records showed his nationality as St. Lucia, resulting in an adverse impact on his custody and his classification as an alien subject to deportation. Genuine issues existed as to whether the defendants' delay in correcting their records was inexcusable. Claims for injunctive and declaratory relief, however, were moot because the inaccurate records had been corrected, so only the claim for damages remained. Baptiste v. Bureau of Prisons, No. 07-0959, 2008 U.S. Dist. Lexis 39479 (D.D.C.).
A New York prisoner failed to show that a nurse administrator improperly disclosed his confidential medical information without his consent and in retaliation for his past grievance concerning the alleged failure to provide him with his prescribed medication. His past grievance had been resolved in his favor, but an investigation of the grievance resulted in the writing of a report that made an indirect reference to his medical condition. That reference, the court found, did not violate his rights, because the prisoner himself placed his medical condition at issue with his grievance. Additionally, the prisoner failed to show that information about his medical condition had been improperly distributed to persons outside of the grievance process. Tatta v. State of New York, No. 503121, 2008 N.Y. App. Div. Lexis 4372 (A.D. 3rd Dept.).
Trial court acted erroneously in dismissing the entirety of a Texas prisoner's lawsuit alleging that his rights were violated during a strip and cavity search conducted by an officer. The male prisoner claimed that the search took place within the view of a female prison guard and other prisoners, and that, during the search, the officer never accused him of possession of contraband. If these allegations were true, his Fourth Amendment rights would have been violated. The prisoner was barred from recovering compensatory damages for emotional or mental injuries under 42 U.S.C. Sec. 1997e(e) because he did not claim he had suffered any physical injury, but this would not bar him from recovering punitive or nominal damages. Hutchins v. McDaniels, No. 06-41733, 2007 U.S. App. Lexis 29755 (5th Cir.).
Correctional officers at a maximum security correctional facility, housing male prisoners who pose an extreme escape risk or who have a clearly demonstrated history of violent acts towards other prisoners and staff, filed a federal civil rights lawsuit objecting to the release of their birth dates and Social Security numbers to prisoners by the Michigan Department of Corrections. The disclosure allegedly occurred in connection with the prisoners' appeals of their disciplinary convictions, and internal reports containing the information was inadvertently not removed before documents were provided to the prisoners. The prisoners subsequently allegedly taunted and threatened the officers, sometimes incorporating the officers' Social Security numbers, which they had committed to memory, into the taunts. The prisoners also allegedly used the numbers to obtain other confidential information about the officers. A federal appeals court ruled that two of the defendant officials were entitled to qualified immunity from liability, and that the hearing officer involved in the case was entitled to absolute judicial immunity from liability. The appeals court found no constitutional violation in the release of the information, quickly adding that this did not mean that protection of the officers' privacy was not important, but rather that the protection of the privacy right involved "must be left to the states or the legislative process." Barber v. Overton, No. 05-2014, 2007 U.S. App. Lexis 18320 (6th Cir.).
Because the plaintiff prisoner had already disclosed his consensual sexual relationship with another inmate, from whom he allegedly contracted an HIV infection, he could not show that prisoner personnel violated his right to privacy by disclosing that relationship to others. Further, mental health professionals in a sexual offender program did not violate his rights or any promise of confidentiality when they disclosed his relationship to others who had a need to know. He claimed that the other prisoner did not disclose that he was HIV positive. The prisoner also had no claim against correctional officials for having contracted HIV since he consented to the conduct that resulted in it, and concealed it from prison officials. Boling v. Dept. of Rehabilitation and Correction, No. 2005-09901, 2007 Ohio Misc. Lexis 81 and 82 (Ohio Ct. of Claims).
Male prisoner failed to show a violation of Fourth Amendment privacy rights or 8th Amendment rights based on female correctional officers' alleged intentional observation of him in the shower or in his housing unit nude or in various undressed states, but the court ordered further proceedings on his claims that he was subsequently "ogled" multiple times in retaliation for his pursuit of grievances over the observations. The court dismissed claims based on a correctional officers alleged actions in informing inmates and staff members that the plaintiff was a homosexual, child molester, and/or rapist. Morris v. Newland, No. CIV S-00-2794, 2007 U.S. Dist. Lexis 15725 (E.D. Cal.).
Pennsylvania court rules that it did not violate the privacy rights of detainees in police department holding cells for their cells to be monitored from the mayor's home through the use of video surveillance. The detainees had no legitimate expectation of privacy in their cells, and the video images were not communicated to the public at large, or distributed on an overly broad basis. DeBlasio v. Pignolia, No. 213 C.D. 2006, 2007 Pa. Commw. Lexis 113.
Federal Bureau of Prisons' Inmate Central Record System is exempt from the provisions of the Privacy Act, 5 U.S.C. Sec. 552, under which the plaintiff prisoner sought injunctive relief and money damages based on the alleged failure to maintain accurate records and remove false information. Scaff-Martinez v. Federal Bureau of Prisons, No. 05-11119, 160 Fed. Appx. 955 (11th Cir. 2005). [N/R]
Federal appeals court allows class action challenging conditions of confinement for civilly committed "Sexually Violent Predators" in California to proceed on most claims, including claims involving procedural and substantive due process, privacy, excessive force, access to courts, unlawful retaliation for grievances or lawsuits, and forced medication in non-emergency situations. Hydrick v. Hunter, No. 03-56712, 2006 U.S. App. Lexis 13497 (9th Cir.). [2006 JB Jul]
HIV positive prisoner could not pursue claim for damages for alleged violation of Privacy Act, 5 U.S.C. Sec. 552a, based on alleged disclosure of his medical records by dental hygienist to another inmate, in the absence of a showing that his alleged mistreatment by other prisoners and prison staff members was caused by the disclosure. In this case, there was evidence that other prisoners knew about his HIV status already and that his HIV-positive status could have been discovered by anyone observing the medications he took, which he did not attempt to conceal. Clark v. Bureau of Prisons, No. Civ.A. 03-0859, 407 F. Supp. 2d 127 (D.D.C. 2005). [N/R]
Male prisoner's claim that female guard made him strip naked and masturbate for her enjoyment, if true, was a violation of his privacy rights, but not "cruel and unusual punishment," since he only suffered minimal injury. Prisoner also claimed he was retaliated against for complaining about this treatment, in violation of his First Amendment rights. Boxer X v. Harris, No. 04-13083, 2006 U.S. App. Lexis 2008 (11th Cir.). [2006 JB Mar]
Connecticut prisoner's allegation that his meetings with mental health staff at the prison were conducted on the cell tier, within the hearing of other inmates, adequately stated a possible claim for violation of his right to privacy concerning his mental health issues under federal and state law. Hunnicutt v. Armstrong, No. 04-1565, 152 Fed. Appx. 34 (2nd Cir. 2005). [N/R]
New York prisoner could proceed with his claim that he suffered mental, physical, and emotional harm because a hospital employee informed a correctional officer of his HIV positive status. Hospital employee had an obligation under state law to inform officer that unauthorized further disclosure was prohibited, andthere was a factual issue as to whether it was foreseeable that the officer would subsequently disclose the prisoner's HIV status to other non-medical personnel at the correctional facility. Melendez v. Strong Memorial Hospital, 804 N.Y.S.2d 626 (Sup. 2005). [N/R]
Unclothed body cavity search of male prisoner during cell transfer in segregated housing violated his rights if it was "needlessly intrusive," based on presence of female officer, which the prisoner found "degrading and humiliating. Officer who conducted the search, however, was entitled to qualified immunity from liability because there was, at the time of the search, January 2, 2001, no clearly established right of the prisoner to be free from the exposure of his body to officers of the opposite gender. Lay v. Porker, No. CV02-01680, 371 F. Supp. 2d 1159 (C.D. Cal. 2004). [N/R]
Alleged county jail policy of keeping all pretrial detainees housed in administrative segregation completely naked violated their due process and Fourth Amendment rights, and was not justified by concerns about suicide and guard safety. Federal court was also troubled by the use of guards of the opposite gender to remove clothing from such detainees. Sheriff was, however, entitled to qualified immunity from liability, as the law on the subject was not clearly established at the time the alleged policy was implemented. Rose v. Saginaw County, #01-10337, 353 F. Supp. 2d 900 (E.D. Mich. 2005). [2005 JB May]
Corrections officer did not violate male prisoner's constitutional right to privacy in his genitals by carrying out a "routine" strip search during the intake process, even with the presence of two female nurses. Medical personnel routinely examine patients of the opposite sex and this practice does not violate their rights. Jackson v. Wiley, 352 F. Supp.2d 666 (E.D. Va. 2004), affirmed per curiam, 103 Fed. Appx. 505, 2004 U.S. App. Lexis 15198 (4th Cir). [2005 JB May]
Female prisoner's claim that male jailer walked by and saw her bare breasts while female officers were searching her in a shower room did not establish a violation of her constitutional rights. Mills v. City of Barbourville, No. 02-6404, 2004 U.S. App. Lexis 23753 (6th Cir. 2004). [2005 JB Feb]
Michigan Department of Corrections' decision to designate certain jobs in housing units at female prisons as "female only," was valid. Gender is found to be a "bona fide occupational qualification" for such jobs, in light of a past history of alleged sexual abuse of female prisoners by male personnel. Everson v. Michigan Dep't. of Corrections, No. 02-2028, 2004 U.S. App. Lexis 24905 (6th Cir. 2004). [2005 JB Jan]
A private corporation that ran a prison under a contract with a state entity was not a federal agent simply because a pretrial detainee was incarcerated there while awaiting trial on federal charges. Accordingly, the prisoner could not pursue federal civil rights claims against the corporation and its employees under Bivens v. Six Unknown Named Agents of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics, 403 U.S. 388 (1971), which created a remedy for the violation of constitutional rights by federal agents. The prisoner could, however, pursue federal civil rights claims against the corporation and its employees under 42 U.S.C. Sec. 1983, which creates a remedy for violations of constitutional rights under color of state law, as the corporation and its employees derived their authority over the prisoner from their contract with the state. Federal trial court dismisses his claim that male prisoner's right to privacy while he showered and performed bodily functions was violated by female employees at the facility for procedural reasons. Lacedra v. Donald W. Wyatt Detention Facility, C.A. No. 99-458L, 334 F. Supp. 2d 114 (D.R.I. 2004). [N/R]
Even if female prisoner's constitutional rights were violated when she was allegedly strip searched by male guards at city jail "without good cause," she did not claim that the city had a policy or custom of allowing "baseless cross-gender strip searches," so that the city could not be held liable. Further, the Constitution does not require jails that house female detainees either to staff more than one jailer at a time or to staff a female jailer. The appeals court also found that even if the prisoner alleged a constitutional violation arising out of the misuse of the jail's video system, she failed to show any basis for holding the city liable on the basis of any of its customs or policies. Soto v. City of Haltom, No. 03-10650, 106 Fed. Appx. 903 (5th Cir. 2004). [N/R]
Federal prisoner could not be awarded damages under the Privacy Act, 5 U.S.C. Sec. 552a(g)(4) based on his allegation that the Bureau of Prison's reliance on his criminal history, as reflected in a pre-sentence investigation report, constituted the intentional maintaining of inaccurate records. The prisoner did not challenge the accuracy of his past drug conviction, but rather to the weight it should have been given in determining his custody classification. Doyon v. U.S. Department of Justice, 304 F. Supp. 2d 32 (D.D.C. 2004). [N/R]
Prisoners' claims against federal Bureau of Prisons challenging an alleged practice of retaining second copies of photos taken of prisoners and their visitors reinstated. Plaintiffs claimed that this practice violated their rights under the Privacy Act as well as constituting a misuse of Inmate Trust Fund money when the photos were paid for by the Fund. Maydak v. U.S., No. 02-5168, 2004 U.S. App. Lexis 7542 (D.C. Cir. 2004). [2004 JB Jun]
Even if three female inmates in a nearby cell could have viewed a male prisoner on the toilet at times, he had no valid claim for violation of his right to privacy when this was unknown to jail officials and he did not complain to shift supervisors during fifty-one opportunities to do so, prior to filing a formal grievance. Jail officials, upon notification of the issue, promptly furnished a solution. Simpson v. Penobscot County Sheriff's Department, 285 F. Supp. 2d 75 (D. Me. 2003). [2004 JB Apr]
Male prisoner's strip search in the presence of a female sergeant was not a violation of his Eighth Amendment or privacy rights, even assuming that the sergeant laughed at his nakedness. The search, conducted in response to allegations of smoking marijuana, was reasonably related to legitimate security concerns, and verbal insults of an inmate were not violations of his constitutional rights. Roden v. Sowders, No. 02-6427, 84 Fed. Appx. 611 (6th Cir. 2003). [N/R]
New Jersey intermediate appeals court upholds Merit System Board's decision that county was entitled to designation of eight Juvenile Detention Officer positions as "male-only" on the basis of "bona fide occupational qualification" because of privacy interest of male juvenile detainees in not being viewed by female officers while showering, using toilet, and being strip-searched. In the Matter of Juvenile Detention Officer Union County, 837 A.2d 1101 (N.J. Super. A.D. 2003). [N/R]
Prison's conducting of visual body cavity searches of sequestered, dangerous prisoners after they left a recreation area was justified by legitimate security concerns and therefore did not violate prisoners' rights. Practice of using only male staff members to conduct search of male prisoners, and taking precautions to avoid unnecessary viewing of prisoners by others not directly involved in the searches adequately protected prisoners' privacy rights. Skundor v. McBride, 280 F. Supp. 2d 524 (S.D.W.Va. 2003). [N/R]
Assignment of female correctional officers to supervise male prison living areas was not a violation of male prisoner's First, Fourth, Eighth, or 14th Amendment (equal protection) rights. The prisoner's privacy rights were minimal and the state had a legitimate interest in providing equal employment opportunities to female officers and in flexibility in personnel staffing. Sinclair v. Stalder, #03-30456, 78 Fed. Appx. 987 (5th Cir. 2003). [N/R]
Deputy's statement to prisoner, in front of other inmates, revealing his HIV status did not violate his constitutional rights. Federal trial court holds that there is no general fundamental constitutional right to privacy for personal medical information and that any judgment about whether such information should be protected must be left to legislative action. Sherman v. Jones, 258 Fed. Supp. 2d 440 (E.D. Va. 2003). [2003 JB Sep]
Strip search of male prisoner in the presence of female correctional officers could constitute cruel and unusual punishment in violation of the Eighth Amendment if female officers were, as prisoner alleged, "invited spectators" and the search was carried out in a manner designed to humiliate and demean him. Federal appeals court rules that provision of Prison Litigation Reform Act barring claims for mental or emotional injuries without a showing of physical injury did not apply, in this case, to bar claims for nominal or punitive damages. Calhoun v. Detella, #98-2894, 319 F.3d 936 (7th Cir. 2003). [2003 JB Jun]
Correctional employees actions in strip searching a male prisoner in front of female employees was not cruel and unusual punishment in violation of the Eighth Amendment. Prisoner was strip searched for his and the officers' safety after he did not respond to requests for his attention. Dye v. Lomen, #01-3766, 40 Fed. Appx. 993 (7th Cir. 2002). [N/R]
Federal prisoner stated a possible claim against the Bureau of Prisons for violation of federal Privacy Act based on a claim that he was transferred and reclassified as a "special offender" based on false accusations of misconduct against him in alleged retaliation for his exercise of his First Amendment rights. Toolasprashad v. Bureau of Prisons, #00-5424, 286 F.3d 576 (D.C. Cir. 2002). [2002 JB Jul]
Male and female prisoners were not "similarly situated" for purposes of male prisoner's lawsuit complaining that the female prisoners were given a greater degree of privacy in toilets and showers than that afforded to males. Stronger security concerns involving male prisoners justified surveillance of male prisoners in toilets and showers by correctional officers, including female officers. Oliver v. Scott, #00-10898, 276 F.3d 736 (5th Cir. 2002). [2002 JB Apr]
Jail employees who participated in the restraint of a prisoner who was suffering from a cocaine overdose and subsequently died could not be awarded damages against the facility commander for violation of their constitutional rights based on his alleged disclosure of their identities to an "angry group" of the friends and family of the prisoner. Nicholas v. Wallenstein, #99-36205, 266 F.3d 1083 (9th Cir. 2001). [2002 JB Apr]
Dismissal of female detainee's federal civil rights claim by federal trial court did not require it to also dismiss her state law privacy and assault and battery claims against jail employee for thoroughly examining her pubic hair for lice as she exited the county jail. Skurstenis v. Jones, No. Civ.A. 98-AR-2295-S, 139 F. Supp. 2d 1291 (N.D. Ala. 2001). [N/R]
299:163 Federal appeals court rules that HIV- positive prisoner had a federal constitutional right to privacy for his medical records and condition, but that prison officials were entitled to qualified immunity for conduct that allegedly disclosed his conditions to others in 1995, since this right was not then clearly established. Doe v. Delie, #99-3019, 257 F.3d 309 (3d Cir. 2001).
296:122 Parole officers' release of parolee's medical records to officers investigating serial rape case did not violate parolee's Fourth Amendment or Eighth Amendment rights or his right to privacy. Webb v. Goldstein, 117 F. Supp. 289 (E.D.N.Y. 2000).
295:108 Michigan city reaches $31,500 settlement with three detainees jailed completely naked for a number of hours as a suicide prevention measure; prior court ruling found that removal of their underwear and possible viewing of their bodies by female officers was not adequately justified by suicide prevention concerns, and could violate privacy and due process rights. Wilson v. City of Kalamazoo,127 F. Supp. 2d 855 (W.D. Mich. 2000).
294:91 Having male pretrial detainees strip to their underwear as a suicide prevention measure if they refused to answer intake questions about suicidal tendencies was reasonable and did not violate their due process or privacy rights, even if done in the presence of female correctional officers. Johnson v. City of Kalamazoo, 124 F. Supp. 2d 1099 (W.D. Mich. 2000).
292:61 Spanish-speaking inmate had no right to a "medically qualified" Spanish interpreter to communicate with medical personnel; no violation of his privacy right was caused by the use of an inmate interpreter. Cortes v. Johnson, 114 F. Supp. 2d 182 (W.D.N.Y. 2000).
286:147 Alleged delay in providing Spanish-speaking prisoner with AIDS medication was not a violation of the Eighth Amendment when there was no claim that the failure to adequately advise him of prison medical policies was deliberate; prisoner had no clearly established right to Spanish-speaking medical personnel, so prison officials were not liable for an "invasion of privacy" allegedly resulting from inmate's need to use other prisoners as interpreters. Leon v. Johnson, 96 F. Supp. 2d 244 (W.D.N.Y. 2000).
280:55 Male prisoner's right to privacy was not violated by correctional officials refusal to allow him to block cell observation window with a piece of paper when he used the toilet, allowing female and male correctional officers and prisoners passing by to observe him doing so. MacDonald v. Angelone, 69 F. Supp. 2d 787 (E.D. Va. 1999).
280:62 Correctional officials were not liable to female prisoners who were strip searched by female officers with male officers and staff members present during emergency evacuation of women's correctional facility because of flooding of nearby creek; no clearly established law against viewing of unclothed female prisoners by male officers who did not conduct searches or touch prisoners. Carlin v. Manu, No. 98-372-HU, 72 F. Supp. 2d 1177 (D. Or. 1999).
265:14 Assigning only female correctional officers to certain posts where they were required to observe female inmates in the showers and toilet areas was not sex discrimination; policy was reasonable response to concerns over inmate privacy and allegations of abuse by male officers. Robino v. Iranon, #97-16470, 145 F.3d 1109 (9th Cir. 1998).
» Editor's Note: For a similar ruling, see Torres v. Wisc. Dept. of Health & Social Serv., 859 F.2d 1523 (7th Cir. 1988) (en banc).
270:93 Allegation that male prisoner was subjected to repeated strip and body cavity searches by female officer under non-emergency conditions while male officers were available to conduct the search, and that purpose of searches was solely to "harass" and intimidate him stated non- frivolous claim for Fourth Amendment violation. Moore v. Carwell, #97-40840, 168 F.3d 234 (5th Cir. 1999).
251:169 Visual body cavity searches of male inmate and observation of him in the shower by female prison guards did not violate his right to privacy or against cruel and unusual punishment, despite their alleged pointing at him, joking among themselves, and "gawking." Somers v. Thurman, 109 F.3d 614 (9th Cir. 1997).
244:57 Co. pays $30,000 to woman who was transferred from women's jail to men's jail after female prisoners complained that she was male, was allegedly forced to disrobe before deputies and inmates at men's jail, and was subsequently transferred back to women's facility after it was determined that she was, in fact, female. Penn v. Los Angeles Co., U.S. Dist. Ct., L.A., Calif., reported in The National Law Journal, p. A23 (Dec. 9, 1996).
245:76 Prison officials were entitled to qualified immunity from claim that having female guards present during strip search of male Muslim prisoner, and other incidents in which female guards observed male prisoner naked, violated First Amendment right to religious freedom. Canedy v. Boardman, 91 F.3d 30 (7th Cir. 1996).
235:107 Prisoner's assertion that he was subjected to a body cavity search in front of 100 people, including female correctional officers, secretaries, and case managers prompts federal appeals court to overturn dismissal of his suit charging that his privacy rights were violated. Hayes v. Marriott, 70 F.3d 1144 (10th Cir. 1995).
231:42 Federal appeals court finds that "cross-sex" monitoring of naked prisoners does not violate any constitutional right of privacy, constitute cruel and unusual punishment, or violate due process; male prisoner's complaint that female guards could observe him naked in jail was properly dismissed. Johnson v. Phelan, 69 F.3d 144 (7th Cir. 1995).
217:10 Female prisoner who claimed that she was subjected to sexual harassment when housed in an all-male cell ward could not collect damages from prison officials since any right not to be housed there was not clearly established. Galvan v. Carothers, 855 F.Supp. 285 (D. Alaska 1994).
222:92 Isolated and occasional alleged instances of male correctional employees viewing nude female prisoner in the shower did not violate prisoner's privacy rights. Thompson v. Wyandotte Co. Detention, 869 F.Supp. 893 (D. Kan. 1994).
223:108 "Brief" presence of female correctional officer during strip search of male prisoner being transferred because of information about impending prisoner disturbance did not violate prisoner's privacy rights; decision to strip search him again before placing him in segregation at receiving facility was not unreasonable; transfer and segregation were justified by belief that he was an "instigator" of feared disturbance. Jones v. Harrison, 864 F.Supp. 166 (D. Kan. 1994).
225:140 Reading aloud of allegedly confidential information from prisoner's presentence report in group therapy session as part of domestic violence treatment program did not violate prisoner's constitutional privacy rights. Taliaferro v. DiFrancesco, 871 F.Supp. 330 (E.D. Wis. 1994). » Editor's Note: See also Taylor v. Miller, 853 F.Supp. 305 (W.D.Wis. 1994), holding that no privacy right was implicated by disclosure of inmate's criminal history file to his girlfriend and mother, as his criminal record was a matter of public record under Wisconsin state law.
Federal appeals court reinstate's inmate's lawsuit complaining that female guards' observation of his nude body while showering, using toilet, and during strip search violated his right to privacy. Canedy v. Boardman, 16 F.3d 183 (7th Cir. 1994).
Federal court holds that female guards observation of nude male inmate's body is not a constitutional violation as long as guards " act professionally" and observation by male guards would be proper. Canell v. Armenikis, 840 F.Supp. 783 (D. Or. 1993).
Two federal courts find that female officers' observation of male inmates in the bathroom or shower did not violate privacy rights, but one holds that bathroom and dormitory design which put inmates on display to officers of both genders virtually 24 hours a day did constitute a breach of privacy. Arey v. Robinson, 819 F.Supp. 478 (D. Md. 1992); Tensley v. Alexander, 822 F.Supp. 411 (E.D. Mich. 1993).
Federal appeals court reinstates suit in which male inmates claimed female correctional officers solicited them to masturbate and otherwise expose their genitals to them and then filed false disciplinary charges against them. Fortner v. Thomas, 983 F.2d 1024 (11th Cir. 1993).
Putting female guards in work posts where they could view nude male inmates using showers or toilets was not an actionable violation of prisoner's constitutional right to privacy. Riddick v. Sutton, 794 F.Supp. 169 (E.D.N.C. 1992).
Inmate's privacy rights were not violated by television cameraman videotaping him without his consent as he walked down prison public corridor; administrative directive requiring inmate consent did not create constitutionally protected liberty interest. Jones/Seymour v. LeFebvre, 781 F.Supp. 355 (E.D. Pa. 1991).
Male inmate's privacy rights were not violated by female correctional officer's ability to view him in various conditions of nudity while showering, using toilet or during strip searches, when he could point to only one isolated example and no unprofessionalism by female officers was indicated. Rodriguez v. Kincheloe, 763 F.Supp. 463 (E.D. Wash. 1991).
Jail officials were entitled to qualified immunity from liability for placing female detainee in the same cell block as a transsexual male prisoner. Crosby v. Reynolds, 763 F.Supp. 666 (D. Me. 1991).
Inmates' suit stated claim for violation of their right to privacy when they were videotaped without their consent while handcuffed and chained. Best v. District of Columbia, 743 F.Supp. 44 (D.D.C. 1990).
Co. could be liable for alleged unnecessary exposure of semi-nude female detainee, classified as suicidal, to members of the opposite sex. Rushing v. Wayne Co., 436 Mich. 247, 462 N.W.2d 23 (1990).
Prison officials were entitled to qualified immunity from damages for allowing female guards to patrol areas where they might see male inmates naked. Csizmadia v. Fauver, 746 F.Supp. 483 (D.N.J. 1990).
Allowing female guards to do pat searches of male inmates and to see male inmates nude and partially nude did not violate prisoner's privacy interests; restrictions of guard assignments in a maximum security unit to male guards did not violate civil rights of female guards; provision of more privacy protections to female inmates did not violate equal protection. Timm v. Gunter, 917 F.2d 1093 (8th Cir. 1990).
Prison inmate entitled to damages for invasion of privacy after correctional officer made copies of his love letters to other inmate's ex- wife. Jolivet v. Rasmussen, U.S. Dist., Ct., D. Utah, reported in The Salt Lake Tribune, p. 16B (Sept. 16, 1990).
Prisoner has right to shield his naked body from members of opposite sex; can sue on prison's use of see-through shower curtains and open toilets; may also sue for violation of his right to practice "Christian modesty." Lumpkin v. Burns, 702 F.Supp. 242 (D. Nev. 1988).
Inmate claiming improper disclosure of alleged membership in terrorist group must exhaust administrative remedies before suing. Reyes v. Supervisor of Drug Enforcement Admin., 834 F.2d 1093 (1st Cir. 1987).
Inmate not entitled to order preventing sheriff from telling media he believed inmate was responsible for obscene letters. Freshour v. Radcliff, 519 N.E.2d 395 (Ohio 1988).
Male prisoners did not suffer loss of privacy because of presence of female guards. Johnson v. Pennsylvania Bureau of Corrections, 41 CrL 2242 (U.S.D.C. W. Pa. 1987).
Monitoring and recording telephone calls between inmates and private citizens from prison telephones not unconstitutional; tape recordings of married inmates does not violate husband-wife privileges. United States v. Clark, 651 F.Supp. 76 (M.D. Pa. 1986).
Electronic sound equipment must be removed from chapel, rules California Supreme Court. In Re Arias, 230 Cal.Rptr. 505 (1986).
Inmate has no libel action against newspaper for article entitled: "Inmate Files Suit Claiming State Official Raped Him." Cofield v. Advertiser Company, 486 So.2d 434 (Ala. 1986).
Hospital's unauthorized release of prisoner's medical records to sheriff requires state action, not federal. Dean v. Roane General Hospital, 578 F.Supp. 408 (S.D. W. Va. 1984).
Court upholds female officers working in housing unit after psychologist testifies women have a "softening effect." Grummett v. Rushen, 587 F.Supp. 913 (N.D. Cal. 1984).
Inmate properly denied permission to appear on national television show "Lie Detector." Arney v. Cir., Kansas State Penitentiary, 671 P.2d 559 (Kan. 1983).
Pennsylvania court upholds prison rule prohibiting telephone calls on the day prior to an inmate transfer; allows civil rights action for assault to proceed. Mastrota v. Robinson, 534 F.Supp. 434 (E.D. Pa. 1982).
Inmate has a right to privacy and should not have been filmed in cell without his consent. Smith v. Fairman, 98 F.R.D. 445 (C.D. Ill. 1982).
Government must show that monitoring an inmate-visitor conversation is necessary to prison security before such conversation may be used at trial. People v. Maxie, 165 Cal.Rptr. 4 (App. 1980).
Inmate may be required to speak in English so that prison officials may monitor his phone calls. Rodriguez v. Blaedow, 497 F.Supp. 558 (E.D. Wis. 1980).
Federal court upholds $7,000 awarded to two Massachusetts inmates whose telephone conversations were monitored. Campiti v. Walonis, 611 F.2d 387 (1st Cir. 1979). Privacy provision of California Constitution states cause of action against county jail where electronic surveillance system was used to routinely monitor conversations between pretrial detainees and their visitors; jail must show compelling state interest to continue. DeLancie v. Superior Court of State of Cal., 159 Cal.Rptr. 20 (App. 1979).
Emergency justified banning interviews with deathrow inmates during pendency of death warrant, but willing inmates whose death warrants are outstanding must be allowed access to media. Times Pub. Co. v. Fla. Dept. of Corrections, 375 So.2d 307 (Fla. Ap. 1979).
Evidence obtained through jail telephone monitoring is admissible at inmate's criminal trial. People v. Myles, 379 N.E.2d 897 (Ill. App. 1978).
News media has no absolute right to access to county jail and its inmates. Houchins v. KQED, Inc., 438 U.S. 1, 98 S.Ct. 2588 (1978); see also Pell v. Procunier, 417 U.S. 817, 94 S.Ct. 2800 (1974).
For earlier case discussions see: Garrett v. Estelle, 424 F.Supp. 468 (N.D. Tex. 1977); United States ex rel. Manicone v. Corso, 365 F.Supp. 577 (E.D. N.Y. 1973); Seattle-Tacoma Newspaper Guild v. Parker, 480 F.2d 1062 (9th Cir. 1973); Washington Post Co. v Kleindienst, 375 F.Supp. 770 (D. D.C. 1972); Burnham v. Oswald, 342 F.Supp. 880 (W.D. N.Y. 1972); Nolan v. Fitzpatrick, 451 F.2d 545 (1st Cir. 1971); Seale v. Manson, 326 F.Supp. 1375 (D. Conn. 1971).
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