Denver Post editorial on outdoor exercise for inmates in solitary.

The Denver Post published an editorial today supporting outdoor exercise for inmates in solitary, with a good discussion of our Anderson case and the recent follow-on class action. Now you may scoff at the idea of a prisoner’s right to feel the sun, rain or snow because, after all, they’re being punished. But as U.S. District Judge R. Brooke Jackson wrote in his ruling last year, “The Eighth Amendment does not mandate comfortable prisons, but it does forbid inhumane conditions.” And being confined to small, indoor cells virtually all of the time, Jackson wrote, was “a paradigm of inhumane treatment.” We agree. It’s a wonder anyone can stand such conditions for years on end without it affecting their mental...

Outdoor exercise lawsuit gets some press

KOAA, a TV station in Colorado Springs, covered the lawsuit we and DU’s Civil Rights Clinic filed yesterday, challenging the lack of outdoor exercise for inmates in solitary confinement at the Colorado State Penitentiary.   There was even video, which is to say audio, of yours truly.     A slightly shorter piece appeared in today’s Denver Post. Update:   Good articles in both Westword and the Denver Post.   The latter may be updated now, but originally quoted “attorney Amy Robertson of the University of Denver’s law school clinic.”   Wouldn’t that be...

No outdoor exercise in solitary: CREEC and the Civil Rights Clinic file class action against CDOC

Inmates in solitary confinement at the Colorado State Penitentiary never get to exercise outside.   In fact, unless they are being transported to another facility, to court, or to the hospital, they never go outdoors at all.   Ever.   Today, we and our co-counsel from DU’s Civil Rights Clinic filed a class action lawsuit on behalf of three inmates at CSP against the Colorado Department of Corrections challenging this practice. Instead of outdoor exercise, inmates in solitary at CSP get to spend at most one hour per day, generally five days per week, in an exercise cell that looks like this: The CDOC calls this “outdoors” because the tall, narrow windows at the end open to the outside.   But even that limited exposure is recessed from the wall and covered with a thick grate: If this case sounds familiar, that’s because Judge R. Brooke Jackson has already held that this denial of outdoor exercise is unconstitutional in our Anderson case.   Judge Jackson’s August 24, 2012, opinion stated: Mr.  Anderson   . . . has been deprived of any form of outdoor exercise, and virtually any meaningful exposure to fresh air, for 12 years. Nothing was presented in the evidence of this case to suggest that the end is in sight. Coupled with the other conditions of administrative segregation at the CSP, this prolonged deprivation is a paradigm of inhumane treatment. Anderson v. Colorado,    887 F. Supp. 2d 1133, 1140 (D. Colo. 2012).   He gave the CDOC 60 days to present a plan to remedy this violation.   Id. at 1157.   Just before this...

We love the DU Civil Rights Clinic

We are once again co-counseling with the DU Civil Rights Clinic.   The students’ first court appearance was last week.   Since I was thoughtless enough to run off before we could take a proper courthouse-steps photo — or even a proper dinosaur photo —   I thought I’d share some photos from our preparation. Rachel and Ryan prepare for court in DU’s mock courtroom: Amelia, who is not yet admitted as a student attorney, provides feedback & encouragement: Prof. (“Judge”) Webb calls the court to order: Prof. Fontana gets to play opposing counsel while a portrait of Dan Hoffman supervises the proceedings.     May we all go forth blessed with his wisdom and eloquence! We had a successful day in court Friday, though since it was only a status conference our victories were logistical.   Rachel and Ryan did a great job, and we really love the opportunity to work with the Clinic’s excellent students and professors.   For me, it’s like having all the fun of teaching law with none of the actual teaching skills! More news on the case coming soon! Update:   Rachel supplied the official courthouse-steps photo.   Looking sharp,...
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