Conditions of confinement in the Louisiana prison system violate the constitutional rights of many prisoners. Due to overcrowding, limited funding, and a narrow focus on retribution, prisoners in the Louisiana endure unnecessarily harsh conditions in their daily lives. The Prison Conditions Project provides legal support to our clients who need assistance holding the state accountable for their conditions of confinement. The Promise of Justice Initiative advocates and litigates for humane, dignified and constitutional treatment of our clients. We seek to infuse Louisiana’s prison system with reason, necessary reform, and a respect for human dignity. Our work is supported by the Venture Justice Fund.
Inhumane Heat Conditions
In June 2013, the Promise of Justice Initiative, with co-counsel Bird Marella P.C. and Attorney Steve Scheckman of Schiff, Scheckman & White LLP, filed a federal complaint on behalf of three death row inmates, who were mentally and physically struggling with the extreme, inhumane heat conditions on death row tiers at Angola. Temperatures on death row approached dangerous and life-threatening levels.
Execution Protocol Disclosure
In December 2012, the Promise of Justice Initiative filed a lawsuit on behalf of Jessie Hoffman to challenge the State’s refusal to turn over its procedures on lethal injection. After fighting for and winning public disclosure of these procedures, PJI continues to litigate the constitutionality of lethal injection procedures in Louisiana.
Inadequate Medical Care at Angola
Adequate medical care is a right under the Eighth Amendment. At the Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola, however, prisoners are denied even basic care resulting from, among other factors, overly restrictive policies and staff shortages. In May 2015, the Promise of Justice Initiative, with co-counsel Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll PLLC, the Advocacy Center, and the ACLU of Louisiana, filed a federal class action complaint on behalf of a class of prisoners who are subject to Angola's provision of medical care. Plaintiffs include men who have been denied even basic diagnostic testing for serious diseases, men who have been denied surgery for obvious and painful conditions, men who are disabled but are not reasonably accommodated under the law, and men with chronic care needs whose conditions have needlessly deteriorated because of the prison's lack of adequate care. The lawsuit seeks injunctive relief to deliver constitutionally adequate medical care to prisoners at Angola.
PJI regularly receives phone calls from prisoners who are requesting help with any number of difficulties they face in prison, from poor access to necessary medical and mental health care to the use of excessive force. PJI advocates with prison officials for improved responses to prisoners’ basic needs in appropriate individual cases.