In 1994, the Superior Court of Connecticut heard a class action lawsuit filed by inmates of the Connecticut correctional institutions under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against the Commissioner of Correction, challenging regulations that authorized surveillance of prisoners' telephone use and mail. The ...
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In 1994, the Superior Court of Connecticut heard a class action lawsuit filed by inmates of the Connecticut correctional institutions under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against the Commissioner of Correction, challenging regulations that authorized surveillance of prisoners' telephone use and mail. The inmates were represented by Connecticut Civil Liberties Union Foundation. They challenged the regulations as violating Connecticut law and the United States Constitution.
The case was tried in state court over the course of eleven days in July 1994, and included extensive witnesses and exhibits. The Harvard Law School Criminal Justice Institute and other organizations filed briefs as amici curiae. Shortly after final arguments were heard, the Commissioner resigned and the subsequent Commissioner was substituted. On March 6, 1995, the court (Judge Jon C. Blue) issued its decision, concluding that corrections officials could lawfully listen and record non-privileged inmate telephone conversations and monitor outgoing mail. Specifically, in a memorandum opinion, the court held the following: 1) the State had not violated state law by its administration of surveillance over inmates' calls; 2) the listening programs did not violate the Connecticut Constitution; 3) the monitoring of outgoing mail did not violate the federal Constitution; 4) the AIDS testing and medical information privacy laws were not violated in the monitoring of phone and mail; and 5) the Commissioner was not liable for monetary damages. The court did find that listening programs with respect to inmates' conversations with their attorneys violated the Connecticut Constitution. Washington v. Meachum, No. 534616, 1995 WL 127823 (Conn.Super.Ct. March 6, 1995). The Court ordered modifications with respect to communications between inmates and attorneys. The parties appealed.
On August 6, 1996, the Supreme Court of Connecticut (Judge Robert J. Callahan) upheld the Court's finding that the programs did not violate state or federal law and reversed and remanded the modifications on attorney-inmate communication procedure. Washington v. Meachum, 680 A.2d 262 (Conn. 1996). On October 30, 1996, the Superior Court (Judge Blue) decided costs and attorneys' fees to be paid to plaintiffs. Washington v. Meachum, 1996 WL 649313 (Conn.Super.Ct. Oct. 30, 1996).
No further information is available.Rebecca Bloch - 04/23/2006