University of Michigan Law School
Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse
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Case Name Carpenter v. Pallito PC-VT-0004
Docket / Court 531-9-13 ( State Court )
State/Territory Vermont
Case Type(s) Prison Conditions
Special Collection Prison Legal News
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. ... read more >
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.

Priyah Kaul - 03/09/2015


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Affected Gender
Male
Constitutional Clause
Equal Protection
Content of Injunction
Discrimination Prohibition
Preliminary relief granted
Crowding
Crowding / caseload
Defendant-type
Corrections
Discrimination-basis
Sex discrimination
General
Visiting
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Type of Facility
Government-run
Causes of Action State law
Defendant(s) Vermont Department of Corrections
Plaintiff Description Prisoner in custody of Vermont DOC, housed in Kentucky.
Indexed Lawyer Organizations None on record
Class action status sought No
Class action status granted No
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief Declaratory Judgment

Source of Relief Litigation
Form of Settlement None on record
Order Duration not on record
Case Closing Year 2014
Case Ongoing No
Additional Resources
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Case Studies Civil Rights Injunctions Over Time: A Case Study of Jail and Prison Court Orders
N.Y.U. Law Review
By: Margo Schlanger (Washington University)
Citation: 81 N.Y.U. L. Rev. 550 (2006)
[ Detail ] [ PDF ] [ External Link ]

  Judicial Policy Making and the Modern State: How the Courts Reformed America's Prisons
By: Malcolm M. Feeley & Edward Rubin (UC Berkeley Boalt Hall School of Law & Vanderbilt School of Law Faculty)
Citation: (1998)
[ Detail ]

Docket(s)
No docket sheet currently in the collection
General Documents
Opinion 08/14/2014
PC-VT-0004-0001.pdf | Detail
Document Source: State Court Website
Judges Toor, Helen M. (State Supreme Court)
PC-VT-0004-0001
Monitors/Masters None on record
Plaintiff's Lawyers None on record
Defendant's Lawyers None on record
Other Lawyers None on record

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