Thursday, December 15, 2011

Private Prisons on Trial

By Andy Andrianantoandro

Last month, the Supreme Court heard the oral argument regarding Minneci v. Pollard, a case questioning whether private prison employees contracted by the federal government can be sued for Eighth Amendment violations under a Bivens action. The result of Bivens v. Six Unknown Named Agents, a Bivens action allows individuals in prison to sue federal employees for damages from unlawful conduct when no other remedy is available. Minneci v. Pollard is about how Richard Lee Pollard, housed in the Taft Correctional Institution (TCI) in California run by The GEO Group, was subjected to painful conditions at the hands of prison employees. Pollard broke both of his elbows from a fall and was forced into labor by prison employees before he healed and was denied of the splints doctors recommended for his injuries. Pollard first brought the case to a district court and after they rejected it, appealed to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals which ruled in his favor. Based on what happened in the oral argument, Pollard may not be as lucky once the justices come to a decision which could spell disaster for constitutional rights and victory for the private prison industry.