The ACLU claims that the Indiana prison keeps inmates in the dark–literally.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana has filed an additional three lawsuits on behalf of prisoners at the Miami Correctional Facility, alleging that inmates are subject to cruel and unusual treatment.
According to WFYI.org, the new lawsuits were filed in federal court. They follow another half-dozen complaints filed against Miami Correctional Facility and its administration.
In the latest round of lawsuits, the ACLU claims that its clients were isolated in near-total darkness for extended periods of time. One of the plaintiffs, identified as inmate Charles Rodger, says he was held in restrictive housing from May 2020 until the end of June 2020, then again for two weeks this last October.
Rodger’s cell allegedly had no working lights, and the window was covered in sheet metal.
Rodger’s television and tablet, says WFYI.org, were his only sources of light.
“Mr. Rodgers was released from his cell approximately every three days for 15-25 minutes so he could shower,” the lawsuit states. “The rest of the time he spent in his darkened cell.”
Whenever Rodgers suffered from shortness of breath—due to a documented medical condition—he had to bang on his cell door for help, since its normal emergency call button was broken.
Rodgers’ lawsuit recounts claims similar to those of the other eight inmates who have filed suit against Miami.
As LegalReader.com reported before, the earlier round of lawsuits alleged that, not only were restrictive housing inmates kept in near-constant darkness, but that their cells lacked basic safety features. One inmate claimed that his cell was rife with exposed electrical wiring. Sometimes, when it was raining, the man would suffer electric shocks while trying to navigate his cell.
“Placing a person in prolonged, isolated darkness for an extended period of time is a form of torture,” reads one line, repeated through all nine of the lawsuits. Inmates who are held in such conditions, says the ACLU, are denied “the minimal civilized measures of life’s necessities.”
The lawsuits names as defendants Miami Correctional Facility, Warden William Hyatte, and Deputy Warden George Payne, Jr.
Payne told The Indianapolis Star in August that the prison is or was planning to replace all of the light fixtures in the housing unit. However, one of the more recent complaints alleges that, while the inmate was given a lighted cell, the light repeatedly switched off and would plunge the cell into darkness for hours at a time.