Settlement allows children to visit Allen County Jail inmates

A settlement in a federal lawsuit ends a policy that prohibited Allen County Jail inmates from receiving visits from their children, among other agreed changes.

Settlement terms of the class action Ronald Ward and Samuel Chinnis v. David Gladieux, in his official capacity as Allen County Sheriff, 1:16-cv-99, end a complaint brought on behalf of inmates in 2016.

The suit alleged parents detained pretrial were forbidden under Allen County Jail policy from non-contact visitation with their children or with minor relatives, a policy that plaintiffs said served no reasonable or rational relation to security or penological interests of the jail. The suit claimed the practice violated detainees’ constitutional rights under the First and 14th Amendments and under Section 12, Article 1 and Section 9, Article 1 of the Indiana Constitution.

The settlement filed as a joint stipulation Wednesday in the U.S. Court for the Northern District of Indiana, Fort Wayne, lifts that policy barring minor visitation and revises those concerning mail and photos pretrial detainees may receive.

General terms of the settlement provide:

• Inmates will have the same privileges to visitation from their minor children or minor relatives as they have to visits from any non-restricted visitor.

• Inmates will be allowed to receive photos by mail and possess up to 10 photos that meet size and content restrictions specified in the settlement. Examples of restricted photos include those larger than 3-by-5 inches and those containing violent or gang images or those that are sexually suggestive. Inmates may not display photos in their cells. Photos must be kept in property bags. Any excess or nonconforming photos will be placed with the inmate’s property.

• Inmates may send and receive mail on yellow or white legal paper only. Any nonconforming stationery will be placed into the inmate’s property. Inmates  may keep up to 15 letters; any in excess will be placed with inmate’s property.

The settlement in the case filed by Fort Wayne civil rights lawyer David Frank calls for each party to pay its own legal fees.

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