More inmates sue Miami Correctional Facility over allegedly cruel conditions

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Three more inmates have filed suit against a maximum-security prison in Indiana, alleging they were kept isolated and had to endure brutal and dangerous conditions in the facility’s restrictive housing unit.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana has filed lawsuits on behalf of nine men imprisoned at the Miami Correctional Facility near Peru who argue the prison “deliberately ignored the horrific conditions in which they were held.” The men have asserted the conditions they were subjected to amounted to cruel and unusual punishment.

ACLU attorneys most recently filed suits on behalf of Nalakeio Bennett, Latroy Maxwell and Charles Rodgers, who join previous plaintiffs including William Anderson, Charles Lyons, Anthony Parish, Jeremy Blanchard, Gerald Reed and Jeffery Wagner.

Blanchard’s lawsuit filed in March said he was kept in nearly total darkness for about a month last year and that the conditions led to hallucinations and severe anxiety. Attorneys for the state have denied the allegations and asked a federal judge to dismiss the lawsuit, according to The Associated Press.

The additional lawsuits similarly allege the plaintiffs were held in isolation cells that had no lights and that some of them suffered cuts from broken window glass and were shocked by dangling wires from a broken light fixture while trying to make their way around in the dark.

“The Eighth Amendment requires that incarcerated people must receive the minimal civilized measures of life’s necessities — a baseline standard that officials at Miami Correctional Facility are consistently failing to meet,” Ken Falk, ACLU of Indiana legal director, said in a statement. “Horrifying stories that continue to emerge from Miami Correctional Facility’s isolation unit shock the conscience and violate the Constitution. In case after case, prison officials subjected these men to brutal conditions no human being should ever experience — knowing full well the pain and trauma they were inflicting.”

The filings allege prison officials continuously ignored the men’s claims and refused to make basic repairs, even withholding medical attention when required. They also assert that the men’s Eighth Amendment rights were violated and that the prison officials are liable for compensatory and punitive damages.

A Department of Correction spokesperson declined to comment on the active litigation.

Each case has been filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Indiana.

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