AELE LAW LIBRARY OF CASE SUMMARIES:
Corrections Law for Jails, Prisons and Detention Facilities
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A Kansas minimum
security inmate escaped from custody, entered a woman's house, forced her
into a closet, and kicked her, causing her to fall and hit her head. She
died from her injuries and her son sued the state for personal injuries
and wrongful death. Upholding summary judgment for the state, the Kansas
Supreme Court found that the defendant was entitled to immunity from liability
under the police protection exception of a state tort claims act. Keiswetter
v. State, #110610, 2016 Kan. Lexis 243.
Two inmates tried to escape from a state prison and intentionally murdered a guard during the attempt. One of the prisoners had repeatedly escaped from a state juvenile school before entering the prison at age 15, and subsequently made escape attempts in prison. The other prisoner also had previously been found to have been planning an escape attempt. The estate of the deceased guard claimed that prison officials violated his substantive due process rights by failing to protect him against the murder and by having made various decisions to house the two prisoners in the general population, at times allegedly based on negotiations to end hunger strikes. A federal appeals court found that prison officials were properly granted qualified immunity on substantive due process claims. While paperwork was not always completed for discretionary housing decisions for the two prisoners, the warden had the power to move them. The correctional department's policy on warden discretion on inmate housing placement did not shock the conscience, and the warden did not act with deliberate indifference in failing to place the inmates in maximum security or allowing them to hold their prison jobs. Estate of Johnson v. Weber, #14-2383, 2015 U.S. App. Lexis 7327 (8th Cir.).
A Michigan prisoner was placed in administrative segregation for close to 13 years because he was considered an escape risk. He was serving a sentence from attempted escape as well as two years for being a felon in possession of a firearm, and a life sentence for murder. Most of that time, he was in a maximum security facility. He filed a lawsuit claiming that his statutory and First Amendment religious freedom rights had been violated while he was in segregation and that he was denied access to Christian worship services and kept in segregation without any meaningful review. While a federal appeals court agreed that no violation of his religious freedom rights had been shown, it also ruled that summary judgment for the defendants was improperly granted on a due process claim. There were disputed factual issues, including whether the four misconduct reports concerning his behavior over a ten year time period was sufficient to keep him in administrative detention or whether the "aging" escape history justified it. Selby v. Caruso, #13-1248, 734 F.3d 554 (6th Cir. 2013).
A prisoner was not allowed to go to his plumbing crew work assignment, and was told that he fit the profile of an escape risk. He was further told, however, that he had not lost his job, but would be allowed to return to it after certain additional security precautions were in place. After he filed a grievance challenging his classification as an escape risk, he was terminated from his job. Given the sequence of events, he stated a viable claim that he was fired in retaliation for filing the grievance in violation of his First Amendment rights. Milligan v. Archuleta, #11-1218, 659 F.3d 1294 (10th Cir. 2011).
Hospital employee taken hostage by inmate was properly awarded $500,000 in damages against private security company that took the prisoner to the hospital for medical treatment under contract with the state of Tennessee. Company employees were negligent in failing to both stay in hospital room with inmate and in allowing prisoner access to a weapon which he used to escape and kidnap employee and drive away with her in her car. Willis v. Settle, 162 S.W.3d 169 (Tenn. App. 2004), review denied, Tennessee Supreme Court (2005). [N/R]
Texas Department of Criminal Justice could not be held liable for death of a police officer killed by seven escaped prison inmates using captured prison guards' weapons eleven days after their escape. This use of the weapons to kill a police officer was too remote in time to satisfy the requirements for an exception to immunity under the Texas Tort Claims Act. Texas Department of Criminal Justice v. Hawkins, No. 05-03-01789-CV, 169 S.W.3d 529 (Tex. App. 2005). [N/R]
Prisoner could not seek, under 42 U.S.C. Sec. 1983, to challenge being charged with escape while those charges were pending. Further, even if he were convicted, a habeas corpus petition, rather than a federal civil rights action, would be the proper way to challenge the conviction in federal court. Any claim for money damages, additionally, was barred under Heck v. Humphrey, No. 93-6188, 512 U.S. 477 (1994), until and unless a conviction occurred and was subsequently set aside. Thomas v. Barker, No. CIV. 1:CV05-0665, 371 F. Supp. 2d 636 (M.D. Pa. 2005). [N/R]
The victim of a carjacking by a New York state prisoner who escaped while being transported from one correctional facility to another could not collect damages against the state. She failed to show that there was any special duty to protect her in particular from the inmate, or that she relied on the performance of such a duty. Even if correctional officers failed to properly perform their duties in connection with the custody and control of the prisoner, that was a violation of a general duty for the benefit of the public as a whole and not for the benefit of any specific individual. The state was therefore entitled to immunity from liability. Leonido v. State, No. 99960, 784 N.Y.S.2d 331 (Ct. Cl. 2004). [N/R]
Determination that prisoner should be placed in administrative segregation, as he was a safety and security risk in the general prison population, was adequately supported by evidence of the violent and "heinous" nature of his previous escape attempt, his threats to escape and kill persons involved in his prosecution, and testimony concerning recent activities and communications indicating a renewed interest in escape. Blake v. Selsky, 781 N.Y.S.2d 802 (A.D. 3d Dept. 2004). [N/R]
County could not be held liable for death of murder victim allegedly killed by detainee who removed an electronic home monitoring restraint and escaped home detention before committing the crime. The county and its agencies had no "special duty" to protect the victim from the crime, and an exception to statutory immunity for injury and death that occurs within the grounds of buildings used in performance of public functions did not apply. Kennerly v. Montgomery Cty. Bd. of Commissioners, 814 N.E.2d 1252 (Ohio App. 2d Dist. 2004). [N/R]
Correctional agency, officials, and employees had no duty to protect a specific individual from assault by an escaped prisoner. Woman assaulted by inmate who escaped from a technical college at a prison facility therefore could not be awarded damages. Alabama Department of Corrections v. Thompson, 855 So. 2d 1016 (Ala. 2003). [N/R]
County sheriff's alleged non-use of handcuffs or shackles while transporting prisoner who escaped was insufficient to support a claim for damages under Texas law for escaped prisoner's subsequent alleged assault and robbery of plaintiff. Lopez v. McMillion, No. 04-03-0021-CV, 113 S.W.3d 447 (Tex. App. 2003). [N/R]
County could not be held liable for failing to protect community member against being shot and killed by a "house arrestee" who escaped after removing his home monitoring device. The county had no special relationship with the shooting victim which imposed a duty to protect him against this risk, and the county, in failing to take any action to recapture the house arrestee, did not do anything to create the danger to the victim. Kennerly v. Montgomery County Board of Commissioners, 257 F. Supp. 2d 1037 (S.D. Ohio 2003). [N/R]
Prisoner who escaped while on work release was barred from appealing a judgment denying his claim to recover his wages, which were paid to the correctional institution and treated as forfeited or abandoned due to his escape. Intermediate Missouri appeals court rules that "escape rule" applies in that state to allow a court to dismiss either a criminal appeal or an appeal in a civil case based on a prisoner's escape from custody. Spencer v. Ouverson, No. WD 60109, 98 S.W.2d 69 (Mo. App. W.D. 2002). [N/R]
Alabama Supreme Court overrules prior caselaw providing that all state officials have no duty to protect unforeseeable members of the public from harm resulting from escaped prisoners. New rule, except for parole officials, is that the trial court must consider, on a case-by-case basis whether there was a duty to protect third parties and whether the defendant officials were entitled to qualified immunity defense. Ryan v. Hayes, #1001578, 831 So. 2d 21 (Ala. 2002). [2003 JB Mar.]
Youth adjudicated a juvenile delinquent did escape from a "detention facility" within the meaning of a New York criminal statute, McKinney's Penal Law Sec. 205.10, subd. 1, when he jumped out of the window of a cabin at a camp operated by the N.Y. State Division for Youth. People v. Juarbe, 749 N.Y.S.2d 665 (Sup. 2002). [N/R]
Township could not be held liable for escapee's death from being struck and killed by an automobile while fleeing from a police station where she had been handcuffed to a ballet bar in the booking room because another intoxicated detainee was already occupying the lone holding cell. Kruger v. White Lake Township, Nos. 222904, 223337, 648 N.W.2d 660 (Mich. App. 2002). [2002 JB Dec]
County was not liable to parents under 42 U.S.C. Sec. 1983 for escaped prisoner's actions in killing one of their sons based on policies or customs that allegedly allowed the prisoner to escape. In shooting at the parent's sons, the prisoner did not act under color of state law, and the county was not aware that the victims of the prisoner's actions, as opposed to the public at large, faced any special danger from the escaped prisoner. Gaston v. Houston County, Texas, 196 F. Supp. 2d 445 (E.D. Tex. 2002). [N/R]
A state statute, Tenn. Code Ann. Sec. 39-16-605, applied to the escape of a prisoner from a private facility in Tennessee when the prisoner was convicted of an offense in Montana and placed in the private prison under a contract between the Montana correctional authorities and the private prison company. The court ruled that such prisoners were not "unlawfully imprisoned." Tennessee v. Lankford, 51 S.W.2d 212 (Tenn. Crim. App. 2001). [N/R]
The U.S. Supreme Court recently denied review of the case, rejecting a petition for certiorari arguing that such incarceration of an out-of-state prisoner in a private for-profit facility without consent or waiver of extradition denied the inmate due process and made his Tennessee conviction for escape void. McKeon v. Tennessee, No. 01-922, cert. denied, 2002 U.S. Lexis 741. [N/R]
292:61 N.Y.C. was not liable for escaped prisoner's shooting and injuring of a man who attempted to subdue him during a bar robbery; even if city had knowledge of prisoner's violent propensities and tendency to escape, there could be no liability without a "special relationship" to the plaintiff based on prior contact or assurances of protection. Kiernan v. City of New York, #QDS: 22703794, Supreme Court, N.Y. County, Judge Stallman, reported in New York Law Journal, Jan. 19, 2001.
289:4 Prisoners who had allegedly been mistakenly released early from Maryland prisons were properly rearrested as escapees; state officials were entitled to qualified immunity for obtaining escape arrest warrants for former prisoners and having them taken back into custody. Henderson v. Simms, No. 99-1706, 223 F.3d 267 (4th Cir. 2000).
275:170 Convicting prisoner of disciplinary offense of escape violated due process when hearing was presented with "no shred of evidence of the inmate's guilt"; such a conviction violated prisoner's rights even if it did not violate any constitutionally protected liberty interest. Burnsworth v. Gunderson, #97-16599, 179 F.3d 771 (9th Cir. 1999).
269:70 Deputy sheriff who took recaptured escapee to emergency room for treatment of injuries had a duty to protect other members of the public there from the possibility of injury from the prisoner's renewed escape attempt; lawsuit against sheriff reinstated by Florida appeals court. Sams v. Oelrich, 717 So. 2d 1044 (Fla. App. 1998).
242:20 Escape of trustee prisoner from county jail, and his subsequent assault and rape of elderly female store owner, was not sufficient basis for a claim of violation of constitutional rights by jail personnel; injured plaintiff did not show that there was any special duty to protect her, and risk to her was no greater than to members of the general public in the area. Davis v. Fulton Co., Arkansas, 90 F.3d 1346 (8th Cir. 1996).
243:38 Utah was immune from suit for damages based on alleged negligent failure to recapture prisoners who escaped from halfway house or to prevent them from murdering mountain cabin owners and kidnapping owners' two minor daughters. Tiede v. State of Utah, 915 P.2d 500 (Utah 1996).
244:52 Michigan corrections department was not liable for escaped prisoner's murder of man at home he broke into; prisoner's own criminal actions, rather than allegedly "insecure prison system" was the cause of the death. Peters v. Dept. of Corrections, 546 N.W.2d 668 (Mich. App. 1996).
250:152 West Virginia correctional agency could not be liable for wrongful death of woman murdered by two escaped inmates unless there was coverage under state's insurance policies. Jeffrey v. W. Va. Dept. of Public Safety, 482 S.E.2d 226 (W.Va. 1996).
239:165 Pennsylvania court rules that prisoner's escape from custody while in work release program made him ineligible for workers' compensation benefits when later injured on job he took while attempting to avoid recapture. Graves v. Workmen's Compensation Appeal Board (Newman), 668 A.2d 606 (Pa. Cmwlth. 1995). [Cross-reference: Workers' Compensation].
231:37 Ohio and Florida courts hold that state correctional departments are not liable for crimes committed by escaped prisoners. Hurst v. Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction, 72 Ohio St. 3d 325, 650 N.E.2d 104 (1995); Dept. of Corrections v. McGhee, 653 So.2d 1091 (Fla. App. 1995) and Dept. of Corrections v. Burnett, 653 So.2d 1102 (Fla. App. 1995).
234:86 Update: Federal government not liable for brutal assault and rape of woman by prisoner who escaped from work release halfway house he was placed in by Bureau of Prisons, federal appeals court rules. Bailor v. Salvation Army, 51 F.3d 678 (7th Cir. 1995).
238:156 California state statute providing immunity to government entities and employees for injuries or deaths "caused by" escaping prisoners applied in case where detained juvenile herself was injured while trying to escape. Ladd v. Co. of San Mateo, 50 Cal.Rptr.2d 309, 911 P.2d 496 (Cal. 1996).
217:4 Woman brutally beaten and raped by prisoner who escaped from work release halfway house was not entitled to damages from U.S. Bureau of Prisons, operators of halfway house or her own employer, which provided services to prisoners. Bailor v. Salvation Army, 854 F.Supp. 1341 (N.D.Ind. 1994).
218:21 Maine was not liable under state law for alleged theft of car by escaped prisoners. Abt & Co., Inc. v. Maine, 644 A.2d 460 (Me. 1994).
226:151 N.Y. police officer, allegedly injured while pursuing arrestee who was attempting to escape custody, may sue arrestee for damages under state law. Baiamonte v. Buongiovanni, 615 N.Y.S.2d 415 (A.D. 1994).
Court rules that Oklahoma law made county exempt from liability for injuries that escaped inmate inflicted on married couple. Cummings v. Board of Co. Com'rs., 861 P.2d 997 (Okl. App. 1993).
Sheriff was not liable for fire started by inmate who escaped from work release program; inmate's actions were not reasonably foreseeable. U.S. Fidelity & Guaranty Co. v. Camp, 831 P.2d 586 (Mont. 1992).
Prisoner's escape for three days while his civil rights lawsuit was pending did not result in dismissal of his lawsuit under the "fugitive from justice" rule. Perko v. Bowers, 945 F.2d 1038 (8th Cir. 1991).
Correctional officials not liable for escaped prisoner's murder of three; officials had no "special relationship" with victims. Massey v. Dept. of Corrections, 451 N.W.2d 869 (Mich. App. 1990).
Use of deadly force against escaping inmate who attacked guard with a spear did not violate eighth amendment. Robles v. Otero de Ramos, 729 F.Supp. 920 (D. Puerto Rico, 1989).
Sheriff liable for negligence in escape of confessed murderer who abducted woman and her son for 13-hours two days after escape. Edwards v. State, 556 So.2d 644 (La. App. 1990).
Officers injured during course of attempted escape could not pursue federal civil rights suit against jail management. deJesus Benavides v. Santos, 883 F.2d 385 (5th Cir. 1989).
Sheriff was not liable to spouse of man killed by jail escapees; no duty owed under state law. Robinson v. Estate of Williams, 721 F.Supp. 806 (S.D. Miss. 1989).
Department of corrections was not liable for escaped prisoner's unforeseeable rape and murder of woman. Shepard v. S.C. Dept. of Corrections, 385 S.E.2d 35 (S.C. App. 1989).
Emotional damage from burglary by escapees not compensable. Medal v. State, 488 N.Y.S.2d 442 (A.D. 2 Dept. 1985).
No liability for transporting mentally ill detainee in unequipped car allegedly allowing him to escape and be shot. Weber v. State, 483 N.Y.S.2d 866 (A.D. 3 Dept. 1985). Correctional officers had no duty to prevent rape of woman by escaped prison inmate. Henderson v. Bradford, 523 N.E.2d 64 (Ill. App. 1988).
No liability for using deadly force to prevent escape of mentally ill prisoner when objectively reasonable to believe less violent method would not work. Clark v. Evans, 840 F.2d 876 (11th Cir. 1988).
Prison camp superintendent not liable for escaped prisoner's murder of woman he married and her daughters and kidnap/sexual assault of her son. Massey v. Grant, 679 F.Supp. 711 (W.D. Mich. 1988).
Lawsuit against sheriff for escaped prisoner's alleged attack on a couple in their home was barred by sovereign immunity. Parker v. Murphy, 510 so. 2d 990 (Fla. App. 1987).
No liability for escapee's wresting deputy's pistol which he fired at innocent bystander. Collie v. Hutson, 334 S.E.2d 13 (Ga. App. 1985).
Memphis decision clouds officers' authority to shoot fleeing felons during jail or prison break. Newby v. Serviss, 590 F.Supp. 591 (W.D. Mich. 1984).
Sworn evidence must accompany proceedings for summary judgment. Read v. Thomas, 679 S.W.2d 467 (Tenn. App. 1984).
Standards justifying escapes set forth. Jorgensen v. State, 688 P.2d 308 (Nev. 1984).
Prior convictions admissible in escape incident. Diggs v. Lyons, 741 F.2d 577 (3rd Cir. 1984).
Only inmate in jail escapes with patrol car due to alleged negligence of deputy. Finnigan v. Blanco Co., 670 S.W.2d 313 (Tex. App. 1984).
Incomplete investigation of escape plans results in new hearing for prisoner. Keleman on Behalf of Tumminia v. Coughlin, 473 N.Y.S.2d 618 (App. 1984). $525,000 awarded due to sheriff's negligence in permitting trustee to escape with car and rape woman. Bass v. Morgan Co. Sheriff, U.S. Dist. Ct. Birmingham (Ala. 1983).
Certain reasons may defend inmates for their conduct in kidnapping or escaping. State v. Little, 312 S.E.2d 695 (N.D. App. 1984).
Prison could be liable for rape committed by inmate placed on work program. Newsome v. Dept. of Trans. of State of Florida, 435 So.2d 887 (Fla. App. 1983).
Co. not liable for death caused by escapees. Federer v. Co. of Sacramento, 190 Cal.Rptr. 187 (App. 1983).
No double jeopardy occurs when escaped inmates are subject to prison disciplinary action as well as to criminal prosecution. State v. Killebrew, 340 N.W.2d 470 (Wis. 1983).
No federal action for death by inmate made a trustee. Nishiyama v. Dickson Co., Tenn., 573 F.Supp. 200 (M.D. Tenn. 1983).
State liable for rape committed by work-release inmate; evidence concerning plaintiff's trauma as a result of defense admissible. Division of Corrs. v. Wynn, 438 So.2d 446 (Fla. App. 1983).
Possible liability for reclassification of inmate who subsequently escaped and shot man during robbery. Smith v. Dept. of Corrections, 432 So.2d 1338 (Fla. App. 1983).
No liability for criminal conduct of escapees who shot offduty police officer. Chivas v. Koehler, 333 N.W.2d 509 (Mich. App. 1983).
No liability for juvenile mental inmate who fails to return from "pass" and subsequently kills another. Sherrill v. Wilson, 653 S.W.2d 661 (Mo. 1983).
Possible liability for criminal conduct (rape) of "walkaway" inmate from work program on road project for Department of Transportation. Newsome v. Dept. of Transportation of State of Florida, 435 So.2d 887 (Fla. App. 1983).
State of Arizona may be held liable for criminal acts of escapee. Ryan v. State, 656 P. d 597 (Ariz. 1982).
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