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West coast prisoner sues over sewage in cell

According to a prisoner in California, prison officers ignored his backed up toilet. The toilet flooded raw sewage into his cell and he was forced to live in the same area as the sewage for multiple days before prison officers took action to clean up the mess.

The prisoner, whose sentence relates to lewd acts against a child, filed his lawsuit on Oct. 8 in federal court. The suit alleges that his rights were violated by correction officers. He is asserting his Eighth Amendment rights under the U.S. Constitution. The Eighth Amendment prohibits cruel and unusual punishment.

The lawsuit explains that correction officers were deliberately indifferent to his Eighth Amendment rights because they were aware that his cell was in a dangerous and unsanitary state, but they did nothing to correct the situation. In a handwritten complaint, the prisoner wrote that his cell area was "out-of-control flooded." He said that everything that could emerge from a toilet had spilled into his 6-foot by 6-foot prison cell floor. He said that his shoes and socks were wet with refuse, which had even made its way into his bedsheets.

The cell smelled so badly, the prisoner said, that it caused him to vomit. The prisoner said that he was unable to sleep and he was disgusted to have to eat his meals under the conditions. Unfortunately, rather than correcting the situation, officers would not even provide the man a plunger or get a plumber. One of the corrections officers told him he should use his bare hands to unclog the toilet as a joke. Eventually, that's exactly what the man did.

No prisoner should ever have to endure inhuman conditions in New York or any other area of the world. However, many prisoners face awful conditions every single day. Especially, in the United States, where state and federal laws protect the rights of prisoners, those living in inhuman conditions can assert their Eighth Amendment rights in court.

Source: Sand Diego Union Tribune, "Prisoner lawsuit over sewage in cell can proceed," Morgan Cook, Dec. 05, 2016

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