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Prison jumpsuits don't constitute cruel and unusual punishment

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Requiring inmates to wear lightweight jumpsuits instead of shirt and pants is not cruel and unusual punishment, ruled the Indiana Court of Appeals.

Prisoner James Daher at the Miami Correctional Facility sought a temporary restraining order preventing the Indiana Department of Correction from implementing a plan to issue jumpsuits to inmates rather than shirts and pants. Daher claimed he would suffer irreparable harm because the jumpsuits are ill-fitting, poor quality, and a made of thin material, which would be an issue during cold months. He also argued forcing inmates to wear the jumpsuits would violate the Eighth Amendment prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment.

The trial court dismissed his petition after screening it through guidelines listed in Indiana Code 35-58-1-2, although the judge didn’t say whether he dismissed it for failure to state a claim or because it was frivolous.  

Daher relies on I.C. 5-23-5 et seq., which sets out the procedures to be followed by governmental entities that wish to enter into agreements with private parties in certain circumstances. He claimed that he’s entitled to the TRO because the DOC engaged in impropriety when it awarded the contract for making jumpsuits without engaging in a public bidding process. The contract Daher challenges regarding prison uniforms isn’t governed by this statute so his argument fails, wrote Judge Ezra Friedlander in James Daher v. Mark Sevier, No. 52A04-1103-MI-150.

With regards to Daher’s argument that the poor quality of the jumpsuit would subject him to cruel and unusual punishment, that argument also fails.

“Without meaning to be flip, we presume that the facility in which he is housed is heated in the winter and that he will be provided with appropriate outer wear in the event he must go outside into the cold,” wrote the judge. “In short, his complaint addresses matters of comfort that do not rise to the level of wanton deprivation or undue suffering. In fact, the condition of which he complains falls so far below the Eighth Amendment threshold of cruel and unusual punishment that it can fairly be characterized as a trivial complaint in that context.”

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  1. The practitioners and judges who hail E-filing as the Saviour of the West need to contain their respective excitements. E-filing is federal court requires the practitioner to cram his motion practice into pigeonholes created by IT people. Compound motions or those seeking alternative relief are effectively barred, unless the practitioner wants to receive a tart note from some functionary admonishing about the "problem". E-filing is just another method by which courts and judges transfer their burden to practitioners, who are the really the only powerless components of the system. Of COURSE it is easier for the court to require all of its imput to conform to certain formats, but this imposition does NOT improve the quality of the practice of law and does NOT improve the ability of the practitioner to advocate for his client or to fashion pleadings that exactly conform to his client's best interests. And we should be very wary of the disingenuous pablum about the costs. The courts will find a way to stick it to the practitioner. Lake County is a VERY good example of this rapaciousness. Any one who does not believe this is invited to review the various special fees that system imposes upon practitioners- as practitioners- and upon each case ON TOP of the court costs normal in every case manually filed. Jurisprudence according to Aldous Huxley.

  2. Any attorneys who practice in federal court should be able to say the same as I can ... efiling is great. I have been doing it in fed court since it started way back. Pacer has its drawbacks, but the ability to hit an e-docket and pull up anything and everything onscreen is a huge plus for a litigator, eps the sole practitioner, who lacks a filing clerk and the paralegal support of large firms. Were I an Indiana attorney I would welcome this great step forward.

  3. Can we get full disclosure on lobbyist's payments to legislatures such as Mr Buck? AS long as there are idiots that are disrespectful of neighbors and intent on shooting fireworks every night, some kind of regulations are needed.

  4. I am the mother of the child in this case. My silence on the matter was due to the fact that I filed, both in Illinois and Indiana, child support cases. I even filed supporting documentation with the Indiana family law court. Not sure whether this information was provided to the court of appeals or not. Wish the case was done before moving to Indiana, because no matter what, there is NO WAY the state of Illinois would have allowed an appeal on a child support case!

  5. "No one is safe when the Legislature is in session."

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