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Jacobs v. Rhode

United States District Court, E.D. Wisconsin

April 7, 2017

AARON L. JACOBS, JR., Plaintiff,
v.
LT. J. RHODE, et al., Defendants.

          WILLIAM E. DUFFIN U.S. MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

         On April 5, 2017, the court held a hearing on Jacobs's motion for preliminary injunction. Jacobs and Brown County Jail Lieutenant Scott Brisbane testified. For the reasons explained below, the court will deny as moot Jacobs's motion for preliminary injunction.

         BACKGROUND

         Jacobs seeks a preliminary injunction “requiring the Brown County Jail to no longer use any previous pre-trial punitive sanctions against Plaintiff and not subject him to any future punitive solitary confinement except that which is provided based on a future infraction by Plaintiff and then under appropriate ‘care and advice of a physician, but not over 10 days.' Wis.Stat. § 302.40.” (ECF No. 93 at 1-2.)

         Case 2:15-cv-00167-WED Filed 04/07/17 Page 1 of 8 Document 103 The defendants contend that Jacobs's motion is moot because the Brown County Jail amended its policy regarding the stacking of sanctions from prior pretrial detentions “and has immediately ceased stacking sanctions from prior pretrial detentions.” (ECF No. 94 at 1-2.) The defendants submitted a Declaration of Captain Larry Malcomson, a captain in the Brown County Sheriff's Department, attached to which are the Jail's two new policies regarding discipline for minor and major violations of jail rules. (ECF No. 95-1, 95-2.)

         FACTS

         A. Jail Classification Procedures

         Upon entry to the jail, inmates are classified into one of four security levels based on their charges, any previous disciplinary experience at the jail, and any medical or mental health concerns. The four security levels are minimum, medium, maximum, and high-maximum. High-maximum is a non-punitive status for inmates who are an escape risk, who are charged with violent crimes, and/or who have had prior disciplinary issues. The conditions for inmates in high-maximum detention include a single cell, window, bed, sink, toilet, one hour of out-of-cell recreation per day, one visit per week, and the ability to order canteen and use the telephone. Inmates detained on high-maximum status are otherwise in their cells 23 hours per day. High-maximum status inmates have their classification status reviewed every fifteen days. Other security classifications have similar conditions, the difference being that inmates are allowed out of their cells more frequently as the security level of their detention decreases. For example, maximum status inmates generally receive four hours of recreation per day.

         Inmates may also be assigned to punitive segregation or administrative confinement status, which is located on the lower level of the Fox Pod unit at the jail. Punitive segregation status inmates have certain privileges but generally fewer than inmates housed in the other security classifications. Inmates housed in punitive segregation receive one hour of out-of-cell recreation per day unless they are on “loss of recreation status.” Inmates detained in administrative confinement have all of their property removed from their cell except for a smock. Such inmates can earn back their property with good behavior. The lower level area of the Fox Pod Unit includes a “four-man block, ” which consists of four cells and a “day room.” There are occasions when an inmate housed on the four-man block may be the only inmate in that block.

         B. Jacobs's Confinement at the Jail: January 2016 - March 10, 2017

         Jacobs arrived at the Brown County Jail on January 21, 2016, owing 851 days in punitive segregation from jail rule violation dispositions that carried over from prior confinements at the jail. As a result, upon his arrival he was immediately placed in punitive segregation. Since entering the jail, Jacobs has been cited for another 61 major and 21 minor violations of jail rules.

         Since January 2016 Jacobs was mostly housed in a cell on the four-man block on Fox Pod and wasn't allowed out of his cell for recreation because he was mostly on “loss of recreation” status. Thus, for a substantial portion of his confinement he was restricted to his cell 24 hours a day. During his current confinement at the Brown County Jail, Jacobs has met two or three times with a physician for a “tele-psych” appointment via a computer screen. Jacobs has seen Nurse Adelaide, the “psych nurse, ” at least 30 times since January 2016, primarily if not exclusively when he was placed in a safety cell as a result of threatening suicide. A safety cell is an empty rubber cell with a hole in the floor for the inmates to use as a toilet.

         C. Brown County Jail Policy Change and Jacobs's Current Conditions

         The Brown County Jail policy that inmates' punitive time carries over to future confinements was changed on March 10, 2017. According to the defendants, under the new policy any punitive time remaining on disciplinary sentences does not carry over from prior periods of confinement at the jail, so the inmates do not have to serve that time. However, the attachments to Malcomson's declaration do not appear to support the defendants' explanation of the new policy. The Minor Violations policy states in relevant part: “A n inmate's past disciplinary record within a one-year period can be used when determining current discipline.” (ECF No. 95-1 at 5.) The Major Violations policy states in relevant part: “A n inmate's past disciplinary record up to one year for minor violations can be used when determining appropriate discipline. . . . The same holds true for past major violations up to five years when determining disciplinary sentencing.” (ECF No. 95-2 at 4.) (Emphasis in original.) Nevertheless, the defendants ...


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