AELE LAW LIBRARY OF CASE SUMMARIES:
Corrections Law
for Jails, Prisons and Detention Facilities


Back to list of subjects             Back to Legal Publications Menu

Clothing

     A woman arrested for domestic battery refused to exit the vehicle transporting her to the jail. She shouted obscenities, exhibited slurred speech, and was extremely combative. She tested positive for cocaine and cannabinoids, and later claimed that she had been experiencing a “posttraumatic stress disorder flashback.” Refusing to change into a jail uniform, two female and three male officers restrained her, placed her on her stomach, held her arms over her head, and lifted off her shirt. She responded by banging her head against the floor while shouting, “They’re going to rape me.” The officers removed her clothing, draped a jail uniform over her body, and left her in a cell. She then had a seizure and was hospitalized. She sued under 42 U.S.C. Sec. 1983 and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Her lawsuit claimed that the jail had a “widespread practice” of using excessive force during strip searches, and failing to reasonably accommodate people experiencing emotional distress during such searches. Other prisoners joined her lawsuit to challenge a policy requiring female detainees to wear either white underwear or no underwear at all. The strip search claims were properly rejected, as there was insufficient evidence of such a custom or practice. Summary judgment was inappropriate as to detainees' claim that the jail's policy requiring female detainees to wear white underwear or no underwear violated the Fourteenth Amendment because the record did not show the policy was within any correctional mainstream, irregular enforcement created the potential for abuse, and the detainees alleged a credible harm to dignity interests. Mulvania v. Rock Island County Sheriff, #16-1711, 850 F.3d 849 (7th Cir.).
    A civilly detained sexually dangerous person who declined to cooperate with intake procedures at a treatment facility and threatened guards was taken to a secure infirmary room with large windows and denied clothing. He spent eight days there without clothes, but was given clothing on the ninth day after he started cooperating, and was then moved to the general population. A federal appeals court overturned summary judgment for the defendants on their due process claims. The detainee's eight days without clothes in a fan-blown stream of chilled air, imposed without a hearing was not justified as a part of the penalty for a crime, since he was not a prisoner convicted of a crime. Further, even for a convicted prisoner, that treatment might not be proper when it was for the goal of gaining cooperation in posing for a picture as part of the facility's procedures. Bell v. McAdory, #15-1036, 2016 U.S. App. Lexis 7764 (7th Cir.).
     A mentally disturbed man arrested for assaulting an officer was forcibly dressed in pink underwear at the county jail, and yelled out that he was being "raped" (which was not the case). Following his release on bail, and hearing that there was a warrant for his arrest for spitting on an officer during the dress out, he ran away from his home, fearing another arrest. Running four or five miles, he died the next day from acute cardiac arrhythmia. A federal appeals court found that his estate validly stated a federal civil rights claim, and that testimony was properly offered to show that the decedent experienced a "sense of humiliation at being forced to wear pink." With no explanation or defense offered for the practice of dressing detainees in pink, the practice "appears to be punishment without legal justification." The trial court acted properly, however, in excluding testimony by the plaintiff's expert that the dress-out procedure was "probably" the cause of his death. That testimony failed to take into account "generally accepted facts" that cardiac arrhythmia occurred at a generally higher rate among schizophrenics, and explain how that and the fact that stress could render the condition fatal were enough to pinpoint the specific incident that caused the death. Family members should not have been barred from testifying about what the decedent told them about his experiences, for the purpose of showing his state of mind in reaction to it. Wagner v. County of Maricopa, #10-15501, 2012 U.S. App. Lexis 4721 (9th Cir.).
     A prison's denial of an inmate's demand that he be allowed to wear his own shoes was justified by legitimate penological objectives including security concerns over the possibility of increased fighting among inmates and the possible appearance of favoritism to particular individuals. Wolfenbarger v. Black, No. CIV S-03-2417, 2008 U.S. Dist. Lexis 71050 (E.D. Cal.).
     An Oregon prisoner claimed that he was improperly placed in suicide watch status and then deprived of clothing other than underwear, in violation of a state administrative rule. The appeals court found that the trial court, in granting the defendant correctional officers qualified immunity, failed to properly determine that there was no constitutional violation, so that further proceedings were required. Howard v. Klicka, No. 05-35795, 2007 U.S. App. Lexis 14255 (9th Cir.). Editor's Note: In two prior decisions, the courts addressed the issue of deprivation of clothing under the Oregon administrative rule. The court ruled in LeMaire v. Maass, 745 F. Supp. 623, 639 (D. Or. 1990), that deprivation of clothing and property is unconstitutional when misuse does not present a serious risk to safety, and a federal appeals court then ruled on appeal in LeMaire v. Maass, 12 F.3d 1444 (9th Cir. 1993), that the state's rules are constitutional as written.
     Prisoner's lawsuit did not properly show an unconstitutional policy or practice relating to how prison laundry was cleaned or exchanged, but rather only asserted "generic complaints" about the handling of his clothing/laundry. He also failed to show that he was caused to wear pants and shirts that aggravated a skin condition, in violation of his Eighth Amendment rights. Court grants him permission, however, to file a further amended complaint to attempt to make out a viable claim. Wilson v. Director of the Division of Adult Institutions, No. CIV S-06-0791, 2007 U.S. Dist. Lexis 32067 (E.D. Cal.).
     Prisoners have a due process liberty interest in choice of clothing, but prison restrictions on wearing of certain civilian clothing did not violate due process; rule was designed to help prevent escapes. In re Alcala, 271 Cal.Rptr. 674 (Cal.App. 1990).

Back to list of subjects             Back to Legal Publications Menu