“Conditions” refers to beds, change of clothing, food, meals, gay inmate classification, recreation, showers, telephones, overcrowding, “fish” kits, store, protective custody, religious services, mail, allegations of violence and retaliation and other similar issues that may arise.
Through advocacy, public education, and litigation, we work to ensure that a basic standard of care is provided to prisoners. We also work to decrease our community’s overreliance on mass incarceration by advocating for alternatives to incarceration and discharge planning to help reduce recidivism.
Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) AccommodationsTogether with the Disability Rights California, Disability Rights Legal Center and Winston & Strawn LLP, we represent people with mobility impairments incarcerated in the L.A. County jail system in a suit filed May 29, 2008. The suit alleged widespread and pervasive violations of ADA related to classification, housing, access to programs and services and physical barriers in the jails. The named plaintiffs and declarants were segregated in the oldest and most decrepit jail facility where they were denied equal access to the programs and services available to inmates who did not have mobility impairments, including recreation, visitation, vocational training and heath care. They were also forced to sit or lie in their own waste for hours because there were no wheelchair-accessible toilets, and left to drag themselves on the floor because guards took away their wheelchairs. After years of discussion and litigation, the remaining issues included access to wheelchairs and mobility aids, including prosthetics, declassification, which is the process of removing mobility aids and/or moving inmates to non-disability units, outdoor recreation, physical barriers, reasonable accommodation procedures, transportation issues and physical therapy. On October 15, 2012, the court certified the case as a class action.
Religious AccommodationsWe work on defending inmates’ rights to observe their religion pursuant to the First Amendment and RLUIPA. RLUIPA says “[n]o government shall impose a substantial burden on the religious exercise of a person residing in or confined to an institution,” unless the burden furthers “a compelling governmental interest,” and does so by “the least restrictive means.” 42 U.S.C. § 2000cc-1(a)(1)-(2). To establish a free exercise violation, a plaintiff must show that the prison substantially burdened the practice of his religion, Rupe v. Cate, 688 F. Supp.2d 1035, 1048 (E.D. Cal. 2010), by preventing him from engaging in conduct pursuant to a sincerely held belief that is rooted in religion, Malik v. Brown, 16 F.3d 330, 333 (9th Cir. 1994), without any justification reasonably related to penological interests. Turner v. Safley, 482 U.S. 78, 79 (1987). Read the Commission's most recent findings (pdf). Read the Commission's May 2012 status report (pdf).
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