ACLU DISMISSES LAWSUIT AFTER ADEQUATE HEAT RESTORED AT ACI FACILITY
The ACLU of Rhode Island today voluntarily dismissed a lawsuit filed against the Department of Corrections (DOC) in January, which challenged the lack of adequate heat for more than a month and a half in cell blocks at the ACI’s Intake Center.
After the suit was filed, the DOC took action to address the heating problems and began providing to ACLU attorneys daily monitoring reports documenting the temperature in the cellblocks. Those reports, as well as information received from inmates, have confirmed that the problem has been resolved for now, prompting the decision to dismiss the suit.
At the time the suit was filed, inmates were complaining they were experiencing numbness in their extremities and had to stay in their beds all day under blankets with multiple layers of clothing in attempts to stay warm.
The lawsuit, filed by ACLU of RI cooperating attorneys Sonja Deyoe and Lynette Labinger, argued that the facility’s failure to provide adequate heat during the coldest months of the year had made cells “dangerously cold,” placing prisoners’ health and safety at risk, and constituted cruel and unusual punishment in violation of the Eighth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.
The dismissal stipulation filed today does not prevent the ACLU from suing again should similar complaints arise in the future.
ACLU of RI volunteer attorney Deyoe said today: “While we have dismissed this action because the cold condition has been rectified, we are ready to take action again if the very basic rights to adequate heat, shelter, and security are later denied to these inmates. While incarceration itself is meant to be both a rehabilitative and punitive experience, an inmate should never be facing a risk to his or her life due to unlivable conditions.”