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Case Name Disability Rights Connecticut v. Connecticut Department of Correction PC-CT-0023
Docket / Court 3:21-cv-00146 ( D. Conn. )
State/Territory Connecticut
Case Type(s) Disability Rights-Pub. Accom.
Prison Conditions
Special Collection Solitary confinement
Attorney Organization ACLU Affiliates (any)
NDRN/Protection & Advocacy Organizations
Case Summary
This lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Connecticut challenged prolonged isolation and in-cell shackling imposed on people with mental illness in the custody of the Connecticut Department of Correction. Disability Rights Connecticut, a private, nonprofit corporation that is the ... read more >
This lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Connecticut challenged prolonged isolation and in-cell shackling imposed on people with mental illness in the custody of the Connecticut Department of Correction. Disability Rights Connecticut, a private, nonprofit corporation that is the authorized protection and advocacy system for the State of Connecticut—with statutory authority to pursue legal, administrative, and other appropriate remedies to protect individuals with mental illness receiving care or treatment in the State—filed the case on February 4, 2021. (An amended complaint followed on February 18, 2021.) In collaboration with the ACLU of Connecticut, the Lowenstein International Human Rights Clinic at Yale Law School, and private counsel, they sued the Connecticut Department of Correction, as well as the Acting Commissioner of the Department and the Warden of the Supermax facility at which these practices are most endemic.

The amended complaint contained four primary claims. Claims brought under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 alleged that (1) the prolonged isolation of individuals with serious mental illness, and (2) in-cell shackling of individuals with mental illness constituted cruel and unusual punishment in violation of the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments. A claim under Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act, 42 U.S.C. § 12132, asserted that the Department of Correction had violated that Act by failing to make reasonable modifications to policies, practices, and procedures related to prolonged isolation and in-cell shackling to ensure that prisoners with mental illness had meaningful access to services, programs, and activities. Finally, a claim under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, 29 U.S.C. § 794(a) similarly alleged violation of that Act because the Department of Correction failed to make reasonable modification to its policies, practices, and procedures related to prolonged isolation and in-cell shackling as required for prisoners with mental illness to enjoy meaningful access to services, programs, and activities.

Disability Rights Connecticut sought, on behalf of its constituents, a judgment declaring that prolonged isolation and in-cell shackling of prisoners with mental illness constituted cruel and unusual punishment in violation of the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments, and that the failure to modify these practices violated the Americans with Disabilities Act and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act. It further sought to permanently enjoin the Department of Correction from subjecting its constituents to prolonged isolation or in-cell shackling and to require the Department to make reasonable modifications to its disciplinary practices to permit meaningful access to services, programs, and activities. Finally, Disability Rights Connecticut requested reasonable attorney’s fees, litigation expenses, and costs.

After the defendants moved to dismiss the case, alleging failure to exhaust administrative remedies and that Disability Rights Connecticut lacked standing to sue on behalf of Connecticut inmates with mental illness, they sought a stay of discovery pending resolution of the motion. Judge Kari A. Dooley granted the stay in part and referred the parties to Magistrate Judge Holly B. Fitzsimmons for settlement discussions. As of August 24, 2021, settlement discussions were ongoing, and the parties agreed to further stay discovery while they pursued mediation.

Tessa Bialek - 08/25/2021


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Constitutional Clause
Cruel and Unusual Punishment
Defendant-type
Corrections
Jurisdiction-wide
Disability
Mental impairment
Discrimination-area
Accommodation / Leave
Discrimination-basis
Disability (inc. reasonable accommodations)
General
Administrative segregation
Classification / placement
Conditions of confinement
Disciplinary procedures
Disciplinary segregation
Restraints : physical
Solitary confinement/Supermax (conditions or process)
Suicide prevention
Medical/Mental Health
Mental health care, general
Mental health care, unspecified
Self-injurious behaviors
Suicide prevention
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Type of Facility
Government-run
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. § 1983
Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), 42 U.S.C. §§ 12111 et seq.
Ex parte Young (federal or state officials)
Section 504 (Rehabilitation Act), 29 U.S.C. § 701
Defendant(s) Connecticut Department of Correction
Plaintiff Description Disability Rights Connecticut, Inc., a private, nonprofit corporation that is the authorized protection and advocacy system for the State of Connecticut, with statutory authority to pursue legal, administrative, and other appropriate remedies to protect individuals with mental illness receiving care or treatment in the State.
Indexed Lawyer Organizations ACLU Affiliates (any)
NDRN/Protection & Advocacy Organizations
Class action status sought No
Class action status outcome Not sought
Filed Pro Se No
Prevailing Party None Yet / None
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief None yet
Source of Relief None yet
Filed 02/04/2021
Case Ongoing Yes
Additional Resources
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  Disability Rights Connecticut v. Connecticut Department of Correction
https://www.acluct.org/en/cases/disability-rights-connecticut-v-department-correction
By: ACLU of Connecticut
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

Court Docket(s)
D. Conn.
08/24/2021
3:21-cv-00146-KAD
PC-CT-0023-9000.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
D. Conn.
02/04/2021
Complaint for Declaratory and Injunctive Relief [ECF# 1]
PC-CT-0023-0001.pdf | Detail
Source: ACLU
D. Conn.
02/18/2021
Amended Complaint for Declaratory and Injunctive Relief [ECF# 24]
PC-CT-0023-0002.pdf | Detail
Source: ACLU
show all people docs
Plaintiff's Lawyers Barrett, Dan (Connecticut) show/hide docs
PC-CT-0023-0001 | PC-CT-0023-0002 | PC-CT-0023-9000
Bildner, Elana (Connecticut) show/hide docs
PC-CT-0023-0001 | PC-CT-0023-0002 | PC-CT-0023-9000
Burstyn, Neal (New York) show/hide docs
PC-CT-0023-0002 | PC-CT-0023-9000
Considine, Kasey (Connecticut) show/hide docs
PC-CT-0023-0001 | PC-CT-0023-0002 | PC-CT-0023-9000
Lin, Eric (New York) show/hide docs
PC-CT-0023-0002 | PC-CT-0023-9000
Metcalf, Hope R. (Connecticut) show/hide docs
PC-CT-0023-0001 | PC-CT-0023-0002 | PC-CT-0023-9000
Mooney, Kyle W.K. (New York) show/hide docs
PC-CT-0023-0001 | PC-CT-0023-0002 | PC-CT-0023-9000
Defendant's Lawyers O'Neill, Terrance M. (Connecticut) show/hide docs
PC-CT-0023-9000
Rowley, Edward David (Connecticut) show/hide docs
PC-CT-0023-9000

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