On December 3, 2010, the United States of America filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Indiana against Lake County, Indiana, pursuant to the Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act of 1980, 42 U.S.C § 1997. The plaintiffs, represented by the U.S. Department of Justice Civil Rights Division attorneys, asked the court for permanent injunctive relief, alleging that the County's acts and omissions in maintaining the Lake County Jail exhibited deliberate indifference to the health and safety of inmates at the Jail.
Specifically, the plaintiff alleged that among other things the defendant failed to have appropriate screening for suicide risk, failed to provide sufficient and adequate staffing, intake and referral process for inmates with serious psychiatric needs, faile to provide sufficient medical staffing and adequate access to medical care for inmates with serious medical needs, failed to provide adequate fire safety, and maintained a physical environment at the Jail that caused harm and posed an unreasonable risk to health and safety.
On September 12, 2008, the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice notified the County of their intention to investigate conditions of confinement at the Jail. On December 15-18, 2008, the plaintiff toured the Jail with consultants in the fields of correctional suicide prevention, mental health care, medical care, fire safety and environmental health. On December 7, 2009, the plaintiff issued a "Findings Letter", where it concluded that certain conditions at the Jail violated the constitutional rights of the inmates.
The parties entered into a settlement agreement on August 18, 2010. On December 3, 2010, the plaintiffs and the defendants entered a joint motion to enter settlement in the Court (Judge Theresa Springmann). On December 20, 2010, the Court (Judge Theresa Springmann) issued an order granting the joint motion for settlement and approving the settlement agreement in its entirety. The Court (Judge Theresa Springmann) retained jurisdiction over the case to ensure timely and proper implementation of the settlement agreement.
The settlement agreement provides that the County does not admit any fault or liability, and that the agreement does not constitute an admission of the truth of violations alleged by the plaintiff. The agreement provides that it is not intended to have any preclusive effect, except between the parties to it. The agreement also provides that it is not intended for the benefit of any third party for the purposes of any action. Under the agreement, the County must use its best efforts to establish a suicide prevention program, to develop and implement a comprehensive fire safety program and ensure compliance with it, to revise and implement written housekeeping and sanitation plans for proper cleaning of housing, shower and medical areas, and to implement comprehensive and contemporary policies and procedures related to the use of force.
Under the agreement, the Jail must submit a bi-annual compliance reports to the U.S. Department of Justice. The plaintiff agreed to have a Liaison whose duty is to supervise the implementation of the agreement and file the reports with the Court.
The agreement shall terminate when the Jail has achieved substantial compliance with the provisions of the agreement and has maintained such compliance for one year. If the plaintiff believes that the County has failed to substantially comply with any of the obligations under the agreement, it will, prior to seeking judicial enforcement of the agreement, give written notice of failure to the County and the parties are to attempt good-faith resolution of the dispute. In the event of the failure of mutual resolution, the parties may submit the dispute to mediation or invoke the jurisdiction of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Indiana. The agreement is binding upon all the parties, including successors in office.
On August 8, 2011, the first compliance report was filed with the Court (Judge Theresa Springmann). It indicated non-compliance and partial compliance with many provisions of the settlement agreement. On January 18, 2012, the second compliance report was filed with the Court, which also indicated non-compliance and partial compliance with the provisions of the agreement. On July 25, 2012, the third compliance report was filed with the Court. On January 22, 2013, the fourth compliance report was filed. The fifth and, at the moment, last compliance report was filed with the Court on September 30, 2013. Zhandos Kuderin - 03/27/2014