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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. So that none are misinformed by my posting wihtout a non de plume here, please allow me to state that I am NOT an Indiana licensed attorney, although I am an Indiana resident approved to practice law and represent clients in Indiana's fed court of Nth Dist and before the 7th circuit. I remain licensed in KS, since 1996, no discipline. This must be clarified since the IN court records will reveal that I did sit for and pass the Indiana bar last February. Yet be not confused by the fact that I was so allowed to be tested .... I am not, to be clear in the service of my duty to be absolutely candid about this, I AM NOT a member of the Indiana bar, and might never be so licensed given my unrepented from errors of thought documented in this opinion, at fn2, which likely supports Mr Smith's initial post in this thread: http://caselaw.findlaw.com/us-7th-circuit/1592921.html

  2. When I served the State of Kansas as Deputy AG over Consumer Protection & Antitrust for four years, supervising 20 special agents and assistant attorneys general (back before the IBLE denied me the right to practice law in Indiana for not having the right stuff and pretty much crushed my legal career) we had a saying around the office: Resist the lure of the ring!!! It was a take off on Tolkiem, the idea that absolute power (I signed investigative subpoenas as a judge would in many other contexts, no need to show probable cause)could corrupt absolutely. We feared that we would overreach constitutional limits if not reminded, over and over, to be mindful to not do so. Our approach in so challenging one another was Madisonian, as the following quotes from the Father of our Constitution reveal: The essence of Government is power; and power, lodged as it must be in human hands, will ever be liable to abuse. We are right to take alarm at the first experiment upon our liberties. I believe there are more instances of the abridgement of freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments by those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations. Liberty may be endangered by the abuse of liberty, but also by the abuse of power. All men having power ought to be mistrusted. -- James Madison, Federalist Papers and other sources: http://www.constitution.org/jm/jm_quotes.htm RESIST THE LURE OF THE RING ALL YE WITH POLITICAL OR JUDICIAL POWER!

  3. My dear Mr Smith, I respect your opinions and much enjoy your posts here. We do differ on our view of the benefits and viability of the American Experiment in Ordered Liberty. While I do agree that it could be better, and that your points in criticism are well taken, Utopia does indeed mean nowhere. I think Madison, Jefferson, Adams and company got it about as good as it gets in a fallen post-Enlightenment social order. That said, a constitution only protects the citizens if it is followed. We currently have a bevy of public officials and judicial agents who believe that their subjectivism, their personal ideology, their elitist fears and concerns and cause celebs trump the constitutions of our forefathers. This is most troubling. More to follow in the next post on that subject.

  4. Yep I am not Bryan Brown. Bryan you appear to be a bigger believer in the Constitution than I am. Were I still a big believer then I might be using my real name like you. Personally, I am no longer a fan of secularism. I favor the confessional state. In religious mattes, it seems to me that social diversity is chaos and conflict, while uniformity is order and peace.... secularism has been imposed by America on other nations now by force and that has not exactly worked out very well.... I think the American historical experiment with disestablishmentarianism is withering on the vine before our eyes..... Since I do not know if that is OK for an officially licensed lawyer to say, I keep the nom de plume.

  5. I am compelled to announce that I am not posting under any Smith monikers here. That said, the post below does have a certain ring to it that sounds familiar to me: http://www.catholicnewworld.com/cnwonline/2014/0907/cardinal.aspx

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