On October 6, 2010, the Prison Legal News filed a class-action lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for South Carolina under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against Berkeley County. The plaintiffs, represented by public interest counsel, asked the court for declaratory and injunctive relief, as well as damages, ...
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On October 6, 2010, the Prison Legal News filed a class-action lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for South Carolina under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against Berkeley County. The plaintiffs, represented by public interest counsel, asked the court for declaratory and injunctive relief, as well as damages, claiming that the defendants' unlawfully censored and excluded the plaintiff's books and magazines protected by the 1st and 14th Amendments, which are sent to individual subscribers in custody at the Berkeley County Detention Center (BCDC).
On May 3, 2011, the United States filed a Complaint in intervention pursuant to the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act, 42 U.S.C. § 14141, and the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized 42 Persons Act of 2000, U.S.C. § 2000cc. The U.S. sought declaratory and injunctive relief, claiming that the Sherriff's Office and the Sheriff prohibit receipt and possession of virtually all mail and other expressive materials by persons incarcerated at BCDC. The U.S. specifically alleged that prisoners at BCDC may not receive books, magazines, newspaper or other expressive materials sent through the mail, regardless of whether the materials are routed directly from publishers or sent by friends, family members or community organizations. The U.S. also alleged that the defendants prohibit a wide range of religious materials to BCDC prisoners of various faiths, only allowing prisoners to possess the Bible.
On January 10, 2012, the parties agreed to a settlement agreement requiring the defendants to pay $100,000 in full and final settlement of all plaintiff's claims for damages and $499,900 in full and final settlement for attorney fees and costs through January 13, 2012.
On January 13, 2012, the Court issued the consent injunction requiring the defendants to implement an "incoming publications policy" (governing access to publications and publishers' right to send publications to detainees), a "staples policy" (governing access to publications containing staples), and a "religious materials policy" (governing access to religious materials). In addition, the defendants must train personnel on all of the new policies and allow the plaintiff and the U.S. to assess the defendants' compliance with the First and Fourteenth Amendments. Detainees shall be permitted to receive and retain any and all publications which do not threaten BCDC safety or security.
On April 18, 2014, the Court granted the defendants' motion to terminate the consent injunction because the defendants had achieved the minimum of one year of substantial compliance with the provisions of the consent injunction.
Litigation concerning attorneys' fees is ongoing. The plaintiffs filed for attorneys' fees on July 2, 2014. Jessica Kincaid - 07/14/2014