On August 03, 2010, Plaintiffs, on behalf of a class of similarly-situated prisoners of the Boulder County Jail, filed a class action against the Boulder County Sheriff under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 in the U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado, Denver Division.
Plaintiffs challenge a new policy of the Boulder County Jail that forbids prisoners to write letters to their parents, children, spouses, domestic partners, fiancées, sweethearts, friends, or to anyone else in the free world who does not fall within the jail's narrow exception to the newly-imposed ban on outgoing letters. Under the challenged policy, prisoners' outgoing correspondence is limited to postcards supplied by the jail. Plaintiffs claim this new policy severely restricts prisoners' ability to communicate with persons outside the jail, in violation of their rights under the First and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution and Article II, Sections 10 and 25 of the Colorado Constitution.
Represented by attorneys from American Civil Liberties Union--National Prison Project, Plaintiffs asked the Court to enjoin the postcard-only policy and declare that it violates their constitutional rights as well as the rights of their free-world correspondents.
On the same day that they filed their Complaint, Plaintiffs filed a Motion to Certify Class and Appoint Class Counsel. On March 08, 2011, the Court (Chief Judge Wiley Y. Daniel) certified a class of all current and future prisoners in the Boulder County Jail who are subject to or affected by Defendants' postcard−only policy.
On April 08, 2011, Defendants greed to change the Jail's Inmate Mail Policy to reflect that: (1) Postcards shall be utilized by inmates, if at all, on a voluntary basis; and (2) inmates shall be allowed to write and send personal letters on paper designated by the Jail for such use and in envelopes supplied by the Jail without having to first ask, and/or receive, permission to do so. Defendants also agreed that it will maintain such a policy and will notify Plaintiffs of any changes to the Inmate Mail Policy as it relates to inmates' abilities to send personal letters on paper and in envelopes within two years.
On April 27, 2011, the parties filed a Joint Motion to Approve Settlement. Pursuant to the terms of the Settlement and Release Agreement, Defendants agreed to pay Plaintiffs a total amount of Sixty-five Thousand Dollars ($65,000.00), as payment for Plaintiffs' counsel's costs and attorneys' fees.
After a fairness hearing, the Court granted final approval of the settlement, and ordered Defendants to pay $65,000 in attorneys' fees and costs. One week later, the Court entered final judgment in favor of Plaintiffs.
(Updated on April 21, 2012)Xin Chen - 04/21/2012