On Monday, eight women filed a civil rights lawsuit alleging that they were subject to abuse while being held in Indiana by male prisoners.
According to the suit, Clark County Jail Officer David Lowe handed two male prisoners the keys for the jail’s female housing area on October 24, 2021. Lowe was alleged to have accepted $1,000 from the men. The lawsuit claims that a number of male inmates proceeded for hours to assault, harass and threaten female prisoners. During this period, no jail officers were available to assist the women.
The following is an extract from the It will suit youA group of women had complained to the jail about how they were treated. Retaliation by revoking the women’s “dark” privileges—that is, by keeping the lights on for 72 hours. Officers also took away the personal belongings of female prisoners, including blankets and pillows.
Lowe faces current criminal charges including trafficking, aiding escape and misconduct.
This lawsuit is second in connection with this incident. The original suit filed by 20 women on June 2nd alleges similar violations of civil rights. The suits allege that the officers failed to assist the women despite their obvious assaults being visible on surveillance cameras.
It is a difficult battle for the plaintiffs. Qualified immunity might protect correctional staff officers even if they are accused of committing the wrongdoing. While their actions might seem to have violated the rights of women, qualified immunity protected prison guards and police officers from the same horrible allegations in the past because they were not subject to any existing law.
“The bizarre world of qualified immunity is here. Federal courts can acknowledge that a police officers violated the Constitution, but they will then declare the officer civilly not liable because there has been no court ruling explicitly against the same behaviour.“ Submitted ReasonDamon Root 2020 The federal courts have been running such interference for blatantly illegal police actions, it is clear that something has gone seriously wrong with our criminal justice system.”
Even if plaintiffs are able to overcome qualified immunity they still face another obstacle in receiving damages from Clark County. The 1978 Supreme Court ruling has been in effect. Monell v. Department of Social Services of the City of New York, Cities and local governments cannot be held responsible for employees’ actions if they are following official policies. Orin de Nevers: To hold a city accountable, the victim must show that their misconduct became a regular part of city policy. SubmittedA 2020. “This is a difficult bar to cross in most cases. Where the burden can still be carried, it will have already done the damage.”
There was no official city policy to violate inmates’ civil rights in this way—though the June lawsuit claims that one defendant, Sheriff Jamie Noel, was acting on a de facto policy of failing to properly train officers. Clark County is unlikely to pay damages, however.
These cases are stacked in favor of plaintiffs even if they have the ability to prove their rights were violated. A number of poor legal precedents prevent officials from being fully held accountable for any abuse of power no matter how grave they may have been.