When an individual who is suspected of committing a crime is taken into custody by a police officer, then the jail officials, police officers, and the jail staff (including jail guards) become responsible for the reasonable safety and health of the individual in custody. In some instances, when a person is taken into police custody or goes directly to jail, corrections officials fail in their responsibility, and may even neglect or abuse the prisoner. They may also allow other prisoners to physically abuse or harass the prisoner. When that happens, the jail, as well as the government entity that runs it, may owe you liability for any injury or death that the prisoner suffers as a result.
Individuals who are incarcerated in jail often feel that they do not have any recourse if they are abused or mistreated by jail staff. However, it is important to keep in mind that a prisoner always has legal rights. If he or she is abused or neglected while incarcerated, that individual may file a claim or lawsuit against the government. In short, incarcerated individuals do not shed their constitutional rights the moment they first walk through the front door of a jail.
If you or someone you love has been abused or neglected while incarcerated in a prison, the experienced Philadelphia prisoner rights lawyers at The Zeiger Firm are ready to help you with your case. We can assist you with filing a claim against the government or filing a lawsuit for damages on your behalf in federal court. We promise to do everything we can to help you recover the damages you deserve.
Please call us today to learn more about how we can help you file a claim for inmate abuse at a jail. Our skilled civil rights lawyers handle federal cases that arise in the following counties that comprise the Eastern District of Pennsylvania in the federal court system: Berks, Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Lancaster, Lehigh, Montgomery, Northampton, and Philadelphia.
Legal Rights Held By Jail Inmates
If you are currently incarcerated in a jail, you do have legal rights. Your rights under the United States Constitution, and in particular the Eighth Amendment, do not go away while you await your trial, nor if the court sentences you to serve prison time.
The Eighth Amendment protects inmates from cruel and unusual punishment. Prisoner rights under this Amendment include the right not to be subjected to abuse, neglect, or harassment by prison staff while you are incarcerated in a jail. Moreover, during the time period that you are incarcerated, you should not have to endure deplorable living conditions at the jail facility.
Types of Neglect That May Occur in a Jail
Neglect can occur before the time that an individual actually sets foot in a jail facility. Detained individuals are considered to be in police custody at the time they do not feel free to leave the area, such as the interrogation/interview room.
When jail officials do not take the necessary and reasonable measures to ensure that individuals who are in custody are protected both physically and emotionally, then the prison may be at fault for neglect.
Also, when it comes to neglect that occurs in a jail, two types of individuals may bear responsibility for the neglect. On the one hand, it may be the prison staff, such as prison guards and other officials, who actually cause the neglect. On the other hand, it may be other inmates at the jail who cause the abuse or neglect.
If you or someone that you love has been the target of neglect in a jail facility, an experienced jail inmate abuse lawyer can assist you with bringing a claim against the responsible party or parties, and can help you pursue the monetary compensation that you deserve for any injuries which you suffered as a result of the abuse or neglect.
Types of Abuse That May Occur in a Prison
There are many different ways that abuse can occur when an individual is incarcerated. In most instances of jail abuse, the jail staff either intends for the inmate to experience harm, or the staff shows reckless indifference to the prisoner’s rights at a given time.
Some of the most common examples of abuse that occur in the jail setting include the following:
- Jail Staff knows that a prisoner requires medical attention for a particular health condition or injury, yet the staff recklessly or intentionally deprives the prisoner of the medical care or treatment needed at the time—including treatment for drug or alcohol withdrawal. This prison medical neglect or intentional abuse leads to the prisoner’s injury or illness worsening.
- A Police Officer or another individual who is on staff at the jail facility proceeds to physically attack the prisoner, or intentionally encourages other inmates to attack the prisoner.
- Prison Staff force inmates to endure intolerable living conditions, including conditions that are unreasonably hot or cold or which cause the prisoner to experience an unreasonable degree of harm. The same is true in cases where prison officials house incarcerated individuals in areas where they know harmful bacteria or mold are present, thereby causing the prisoner to fall ill.
If you or a person you care about has been abused in a jail setting, an experienced jail inmate abuse attorney can review the circumstances to see if you have a viable claim. If you do, our federal civil rights lawyers can assist you with filing your claim and pursuing the justice and monetary compensation you deserve.
Recognizing Inmate Abuse
There are many ways that jail staff members, including prison guards, can create situations at a jail that abuse and/or neglect inmates. For starters, individuals who work at a jail are only allowed to use a reasonable amount of force when seeking to maintain order and safety in the facility. After all, under the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution, inmates are protected against searches and seizures that are unreasonable and unnecessary under the circumstances.
In cases where corrections officers or prison guards use excessive or unreasonable force against a prisoner, and that individual suffers an injury, then the prisoner may file a claim for damages.
Some of the most common ways that prison guards use unreasonable amounts of force against jail inmates include the following:
- Using a type of physical restraint (such as handcuffs or chokehold that suffocates a prisoner) on the inmate that is unnecessary under the circumstances
- Using pepper spray or some other harmful substances on an inmate when such use is not necessary to control the inmate
- Punishing the inmate in a spiteful way, such as placing him or her in solitary confinement when the inmate does not present a danger to themselves, prison staff, or other inmates
- Kicking, punching, or assaulting an inmate when such an excessive amount of force is not necessary to control the inmate
- Sexually assaulting an inmate by a prison guard
- Verbally abusing an inmate by making unwarranted threats, or unnecessarily humiliating the inmate
- Creating a hostile environment for the inmate by using unnecessary or offensive language, including using racial slurs when speaking to or speaking about the inmate
- Causing an inmate to experience psychological harm by depriving him or her of food, water, or sleep
Prison guards and other officials who work at a jail facility have a significant amount of power and authority. Unfortunately, however, prison guards and others sometimes abuse this authority, which may lead to a civil claim for abuse or neglect.
Prison Guards are Responsible for Inmate Well-Being
Prison guards and other prison officials are not the only sources of potential neglect or abuse in the jail setting. Other inmates can also create situations that lead to prisoner abuse or neglect. One of the most common forms of physical abuse caused by other inmates is physical violence, stabbing, beating, as well as sexual violence.
Moreover, prison officials, including guards, are responsible for taking measures to prevent inmate violence from occurring in the first place—including self-harm from suicide. In cases where jails do not follow the proper training protocols or utilize proper training procedures, the facility may be responsible for any injuries or wrongful deaths that occur to inmates.
Jail Responsibility For the Death of an Inmate
There are situations when a jail can be responsible for the death of an inmate. For example, if an inmate is sick and notifies the prison guards or other staff members, and the inmate does not receive the proper medical treatment, then the jail may be responsible. Moreover, in cases where a prison official intentionally interferes with an inmate’s medical treatment, and that inmate passes away as a result, then the jail may also be responsible.
If your loved one passed away in a jail facility as a result of abuse or neglect, then you may file a wrongful death claim and pursue monetary compensation.
Bases for Recovering Monetary Compensation in a Federal Jail Abuse and Neglect Case
If you or a loved one is pursuing a claim against a jail for abuse or neglect, there are essentially two different bases of recovery. On the one hand, an individual may file a claim against the jail for negligence. On the other hand, if your loved one died as a result of abuse or neglect in a jail, then you may file a wrongful death claim for damages.
When it comes to both negligence and wrongful death claims, the standard of care is typically that of a reasonable prison guard or staff member acting under the same or similar circumstances. If you can demonstrate that a prison guard or corrections officer acted unreasonably under the circumstances, such as by using excessive force, and that you were injured or that your incarcerated loved one died as a result, then you may recover monetary compensation.
The extent of monetary compensation for which you are eligible depends largely upon the extent of the injury or injuries that you sustained while you were incarcerated. For example, if you were injured while you were incarcerated, you can recover your out-of-pocket costs for any and all related medical treatment you received, as well as for any lost earnings. Moreover, you may recover compensation for all of the pain, suffering, and harm to your marital relationship that took place as a result of your injuries.
In cases where there was a wrongful death, you may pursue compensation for your loved one’s future lost earnings, as well as for the loss of your loved one’s companionship.
Finally, in cases where a prison guard or other official acted in a particularly heinous or egregious manner, you may recover punitive damages in your case. An experienced jail inmate abuse lawyer can assist you with making a claim and pursuing the damages that you deserve.
Speak With a Jail Inmate Abuse Lawyer Today
If you or someone you love has been the victim of abuse or neglect in a jail, it is more important than ever that you have experienced legal representation on your side. The knowledgeable and experienced team of federal civil rights attorneys at The Zeiger Firm can assist you with filing your claim against the government, and if necessary, pursuing litigation in the federal court system. We will also help you to pursue the monetary compensation to which you are entitled.
To schedule a free consultation and case evaluation with a federal jail inmate abuse attorney, please call us at (215) 546-0340 or contact us online today to learn more.