Case: Carpenter v. Pallito

13-05319 | Vermont state trial court

Filed Date: 2013

Closed Date: 2014

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Case Summary

Plaintiff, a prisoner in the custody of the Vermont Department of Corrections and housed in Kentucky, filed suit against the Department of Corrections (DOC), arguing that his out-of-state incarceration violated the Common Benefits Clause of the state constitution and the Equal Protection Clause. Plaintiff sought declaratory relief and an order returning him to an in-state prison.When plaintiff was first incarcerated, he had regular visits with his children. Plaintiff was then transferred from a…

Plaintiff, a prisoner in the custody of the Vermont Department of Corrections and housed in Kentucky, filed suit against the Department of Corrections (DOC), arguing that his out-of-state incarceration violated the Common Benefits Clause of the state constitution and the Equal Protection Clause. Plaintiff sought declaratory relief and an order returning him to an in-state prison.

When plaintiff was first incarcerated, he had regular visits with his children. Plaintiff was then transferred from a prison in Vermont to a prison in Kentucky. The children's guardian could not afford to travel to Kentucky for visits. The DOC did not provide video conferencing for families. Plaintiff asserted that as a result of the transfer, he was effectively prohibited from any visitation or contact with his young children.

The DOC transfers only male prisoners out of state. Although there is no formal policy establishing this practice, the DOC does not consider it "financially feasible" to send women elsewhere. It is theDOC's policy to try to keep prisoners close to their families. However, the DOC does not ask whether inmates have minor children. Plaintiff argued that the DOC treats fathers differently than mothers, constituting an unlawful gender-based distinction.

On August 13, 2014, the Vermont Superior Court (Judge Helen M. Toor) held that the DOC's policies violated the federal and state constitution. According to the court (Judge Toor), the DOC failed to establish that sending men out of state regardless of their parental status was necessary to achieve DOC goals. The court (Judge Toor) granted plaintiff's requested relief and ordered the DOC to return the plaintiff to a Vermont prison where he could see his children.

Summary Authors

Priyah Kaul (3/9/2015)

People


Judge(s)

Toor, Helen M. (Vermont)

Judge(s)

Toor, Helen M. (Vermont)

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Documents in the Clearinghouse

Document

531-9-13-WNCV

Opinion

Aug. 14, 2014

Aug. 14, 2014

Order/Opinion

Resources

Docket

Last updated July 22, 2023, 3 a.m.

Docket sheet not available via the Clearinghouse.

Case Details

State / Territory: Vermont

Case Type(s):

Prison Conditions

Special Collection(s):

Prison Legal News

Key Dates

Filing Date: 2013

Closing Date: 2014

Case Ongoing: No

Plaintiffs

Plaintiff Description:

Prisoner in custody of Vermont DOC, housed in Kentucky.

Plaintiff Type(s):

Private Plaintiff

Public Interest Lawyer: Yes

Filed Pro Se: No

Class Action Sought: No

Class Action Outcome: Not sought

Defendants

Vermont Department of Corrections (Washington), State

Defendant Type(s):

Corrections

Case Details

Causes of Action:

State law

Constitutional Clause(s):

Equal Protection

Available Documents:

Any published opinion

Outcome

Prevailing Party: Plaintiff

Nature of Relief:

Declaratory Judgment

Source of Relief:

Litigation

Content of Injunction:

Preliminary relief granted

Discrimination Prohibition

Issues

General:

Visiting

Crowding:

Crowding / caseload

Discrimination-basis:

Sex discrimination

Affected Sex or Gender:

Male

Type of Facility:

Government-run