When people are behind bars, the county, state, or federal government assumes total responsibility for their health, safety, and welfare. A breakdown in any area could give rise to a civil rights violation lawsuit.
In the post-coronavirus era, health inside detention centers often means infectious disease control. Many prison and jail inmates have substance abuse issues or other pre-existing medical conditions. As a result, they are especially vulnerable to infectious disease. All protocols, such as social distancing, are probably unavailable in these environments. But jailers have a duty of care to make the environment as healthy as possible.
On a related note, jailers have a responsibility to provide immediate medical care to inmates who need it. Jailers cannot wait for a more convenient time, such as a regular break or shift change, to intervene in these situations. Similarly, officials cannot turn a blind eye to inmate needs.
Safety usually involves the physical safety of jail inmates. Prison bureaucrats often do things like place people in rival gangs in the same day area. Furthermore, locks on cells usually work perfectly, but other barriers are not as well maintained. The same intervention rule discussed above also applies in these situations. Guards cannot wait for inmates to “cool off” before they stop a fight or intervene in other crisis situations.
Well-being often involves mental and emotional health. Jailers do not have as high of a duty in these situations. However, they cannot ignore obvious problems, whether they affect one person or the entire inmate population.
De minimis injury is the most common defense that Orlando civil rights lawyers face in both jail conditions and police brutality cases. The injuries inflicted are always emotionally crippling. But they are only actionable in court if they are physically crippling as well.
Examples of actionable police brutality include physical torture, deprivation of basic services, excessive use of physical force, and assaulting prisoners. As mentioned, many Orange County jurors no longer give police officers the benefit of the doubt in these cases. As a result, government lawyers are often eager to settle these cases out of court.
Filming police officers as they conduct their official duties is a related matter. The Supreme Court has not yet weighed in on this matter, but the Eleventh Circuit, which includes Florida, has recognized that people have a fundamental right to record video in these situations. Police officers may still impose reasonable time, place, and manner restrictions.
Count on a Dedicated Orange County Lawyer
Everyone has civil rights, whether or not they are in police custody. For a confidential consultation with an experienced civil rights attorney in Orlando, contact the O’Mara Law Group, Attorneys at Law. After hours, virtual, and home visits are available.
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