Anderson v. Colorado and Decoteau v. Raemish

In these two companion cases, CREEC and the Civil Rights Clinic (“CRC”) at the University of Denver Sturm College of Law successfully challenged the lack of outdoor exercise for prisoners in administrative segregation – solitary confinement – at the Colorado State Penitentiary (CSP). In the first case, Troy Anderson – who had gone over 12 years without outdoor exercise – brought suit under the Eighth Amendment, challenging the complete lack of exercise yards at CSP as well as other mental health care failures.

Following a bench trial, the judge held that Mr. Anderson prevailed on his outdoor exercise claim, and in part on his mental health care claim, ruling for the state on other claims.  The court held, ” 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).

Instead of building exercise yards at CSP, the Colorado Department of Corrections attempted to comply with the Court’s order concerning outdoor exercise by moving Mr. Anderson to the Sterling Correctional Facility.

Because the CDOC moved Mr. Anderson rather than constructing exercise yards at CSP, CREEC and the CRC brought a class action suit against on behalf of all prisoners at that facility.

The Decoteau case challenged the lack of outdoor exercise at CSP as a class action on behalf of all prisoners in administrative segregation at that facility.  Judge Martinez granted class certification to the case under Rule 23(b)(2), certifying a class defined as follows: “All inmates who are now or will in the future be housed in administrative segregation at the Colorado State Penitentiary and who are now or will in the future be subjected to the policy and practice of refusing to provide such inmates access to outdoor exercise.” Decoteau v. Raemisch, 304 F.R.D. 683, 690 (D. Colo. 2014).

With cross-motions for summary judgment pending and trial looming, the parties reached agreement on the terms of a class action settlement that required CDOC, among other things, to construct outdoor exercise yards at CSP to be completed by December 31, 2016.

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