Suit by Ala. inmate handcuffed to outdoor post rejected
The Associated Press
BIRMINGHAM, Alabama- A federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit brought by an inmate who was handcuffed to an outdoor post for seven hours at an Alabama prison and sought monetary damages from three guards.
U.S. District Judge Karon O. Bowdre ruled Monday that Larry Hope, who is serving a life term for rape, did not prove key elements of his case against the corrections officers.
Hope, whose 1996 suit was allowed to go to trial in a ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court, alleged that he had been denied water, food, a bathroom break and protection from the sun when he was handcuffed to the chest-high bars, known as hitching posts, for seven hours in 1995.
The posts were used when inmates refused to go on work details or were unruly. The practice ended in 1998 after a federal judge ruled it was unconstitutionally cruel and unusual.
Bowdre, who dismissed Hope's suit before it went to a seven-member jury, ruled there was no clear-cut evidence from Hope's testimony that the three guards had an awareness of potential harm or acted with deliberate indifference to Hope's health and safety.
Hope testified that he suffered injuries, including wrist cuts and skin damaged by the sun, when he was left shirtless on the post.
Assistant State Attorney General Ellen Leonard, representing the guards, said no injuries were found when Hope was checked in an infirmary before and after his time on the post.
"He's probably where he needs to be, but just because someone is in prison in America doesn't mean you can treat them like they treated him," Craig T. Jones, an attorney for Hope, said Tuesday.