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ACLU Files Lawsuit Against Broward Sheriff Over Conditions In The Jails
ACLU Files Lawsuit Against Broward Sheriff Over Conditions In The Jails-June 05, 2020. Today the ACLU along with DISABILITY RIGHTS FLORIDA, INC., Filed a federal class action-lawsuit seeking “Immediate Relief” for several inmates currently incarcerated in the Broward County Jail system.
The suit was specifically filed against Broward County Sheriff Gregory Tony.
The suit claims the Sheriff has done next to nothing to protect the inmates and jail staff:
“Incomprehensibly, while Broward County correctional facilities claim to be following CDC guidelines to contain the virus, they actually have not instituted even the most basic safeguards for prisoners and staff. Known conditions across the four Broward County correctional facilities include those that can unnecessarily exacerbate the risk of infection and serious illness or death, particularly for the medically vulnerable:”
as of May 27, 2020, 52 confirmed cases (with only 216 prisoners tested) in the last two months in Broward County Jail facilities;
no COVID-19 testing or screening of detainees at intake and inadequate testing and screening during detention, including of those whose medical vulnerabilities make them especially at risk for severe illness or death if they contract the virus, of those with symptoms, or of those who were in close contact with individuals who test positive for COVID-19;
inadequate COVID-19 testing or adequate screening of staff, resulting in staff who are in close contact with individuals who test positive for COVID-19 continuing to work and interact with detainees and other staff;
inadequate protections for medically vulnerable prisoners, including continued exposure to other prisoners;
failure to medically isolate detainees with symptoms, positive tests, or those exposed to someone with COVID-19, and failure to separate detainees who have tested positive from those who have only potential cases of COVID-19;
The complete filing is seventy pages long and specifically puts the blame on the Sheriff, asking the federal courts to step in and force the sheriff into taking immediate action.
They allege that not only is the sheriff putting the jail staff and prisoners in serious grave jeopardy, but the communities surrounding the jails also.
“Jails are not hermetically sealed. Every day, custody, health care and civilian staff who have direct contact with prisoners enter and leave the facilities. For this reason, failing to prevent and mitigate the spread of COVID-19 endangers not only those within the institution, but the entire community. This danger has become more acute as Florida, and Broward County, have begun reopening—with social distancing and capacity restrictions—restaurants, beaches, gyms and other businesses, increasing the risk of community spread.
25 Hence, Broward County Sheriff Gregory Tony must take immediate and aggressive action in accordance with public health guidance, to prevent the outbreak from at the jail and its neighboring communities.”
The relief sought also seeks to have several “Medically Vulnerable” inmates released.
“Absent intervention from this Court to align the operation of Broward County Jails with public health principles—first and foremost, through the release of as many medically-vulnerable detainees as feasible, but also through improved housing, testing, treatment, education, and sanitation protocols for all others—devastating, and in many cases deadly, irreparable harm will befall detained persons, jail staff, and the community.
26 The dramatic outbreaks in detention facilities around the country prove the need for immediate and significant reductions in jail populations and other public health interventions.
27 Courts and executive branch officials elsewhere in the country have accepted this reality and begun adopting processes for releasing detainees.“
Also, they plead:
“Accordingly, Plaintiffs—classes of persons incarcerated at Broward County Jails—bring this action and request (i) an immediate end to their unconstitutional conditions of confinement, and (ii) immediate adoption of a process to release all medically-vulnerable detainees, coupled with appropriate support and conditions upon release, as informed by public health and public safety expertise. Given the exponential spread of COVID-19, there is no time to spare.”
Earlier this week a Broward defense attorney named William Gelin fought the judge and prosecutor over this very issue finding the Broward courts to be very little help.
The names of the inmates specifically named are:
CODY BARNETT, WILLIAM BENNET, CHRISTOPHER BROWN, JESSE CALLINS, GREGORY DUNNING, BERNARD FRANKLIN, RICARDO GONZALES GUERRA, HEATHER LEWIS, ROBERT MORRILL, SAMUEL PAULK, HELEN PICIACCHI, DARIUS WALKER GREAVES and TODD WATSON, on their own and on behalf of a class of similarly situated persons.
Those of you that follow our blog may have noticed the name, Todd Watson. We have done previous stories on Mr. Watson and are coming with more soon. His at the current time is an ongoing case.
Here is the complete filing from today:
South Florida Corruption.com