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Inmates sue jail over correspondence

April 17, 2012

PLYMOUTH — Two inmates of the Marshall County Jail have filed suit against the jail over what they claim is a violation of their civil rights.
A new “postcard policy” began at the jail April 1, prohibiting inmates from receiving letters in envelopes from their friends and family. Instead, those incarcerated must be satisfied with postcards. The reason for the change, according to Marshall County Sheriff Tom Chamberlin, is that several letters have been sent to the jail containing dangerous or illegal contraband.
“It’s a safety concern,” explained Chamberlin to the county commissioners Monday. “We have employees that have to be very careful opening the envelopes. We’ve had a variety of solutions (found) on the envelopes.”
The jail’s answer to the problem is to restrict letters going into the jail to only those from churches and attorneys (because of confidential information that may be enclosed). Inmates are still allowed to send letters, but they cannot receive them.
A notice of the lawsuit from attorney Kenneth Falk of Indiana Civil Liberties Union on behalf of the inmates requests that the case be certified as class action, that the postcard policy be declared unconstitutional under the First Amendment, and that an injunction be made preventing the policy from being enforced.
County attorney Jim Clevenger advised the commissioners that the county’s liability carrier would not be providing a defense for this issue. Chamberlin said that he has been in contact with the Indiana Sheriff’s Association attorney, Howard Williams, and will meet with him later this week to discuss the matter.
In other business:
• The commissioners again considered offering dirt on the Marshall County Jail property to county residents for personal use. Commissioner Kevin Overmyer suggested that a county highway department employee hand out the dirt to interested residents during a specified time in the month of May. Although commissioner Jack Roose initially agreed to the suggestion, it was later decided that the dirt will only be made available to government entities, school systems, and municipalities in the county because of liability issues. Overmyer commented that the Plymouth Park Department had already picked up some of the dirt for use in planters downtown, and county highway superintendent Neal Haeck said that a school system had also contacted him with an interest in the dirt.
“We want to stockpile some for ourselves, for future use,” said Haeck.
The commissioners unanimously moved to allow government entities to pick up the dirt free of charge. Whatever is left will be leveled off by county surveyor Larry Fisher.

Comments

ACLU lawsuit

April 26, 2012 by Anonymous, 2 years 12 weeks ago
Comment: 14021

As stated by Sheriff Chamberlain, how is it a safety concern, when St Joseph County Jail and houses over 600 inmates and still are able to get enveloped mail, and Marshall County houses, what maybe 90-120 inmates at any given time, and if its a safety concern, just exactly what solutions recently have been found on envelopes as stated?

jail inmates lawsuit

April 17, 2012 by Anonymous, 2 years 14 weeks ago
Comment: 14010

When they broke the law and was put in jail-they forfeited these rights!! They broke the law and now they pay the consequence! It's not the sheriff's fault or the jail workers if the convict's family and friends are sending them illegal substances through the mail. I am on the side of Sheriff Chamberlain. These rights they violated as far as I am concerned.

Letters to inmates

April 17, 2012 by Anonymous, 2 years 14 weeks ago
Comment: 14009

I think that it is a fair and reasonable request. After all inmates have lost some of their freedoms. They are being taken care of by a "care giver", if you will, living under somoneelse's roof. "My house my rules." In the need for saftey for the care givers, it is not unreasonable to inact this. It would be different if we lived in a world where all of the general public followed the rules and laws. It is obviouse that we don't, other wise there would be no need for jails. The inmates shoud be happy that they are getting three meals a day, a bed to sleep in and free medical care, along with all of the other privilages they get. Like television, visitors. They are out of the weather and off the streets. We have people living on the streets who have a lot less and diserve so much more. Like our VFW, you know the ones who fought for all of our "RIGHTS". The thought of them being upset because of not getting mail in an envolope is redicules, they should be happy that they are allowed to get any at all. It is not Curel and Inhumane punishment to get a post card. They should be thankfull they are in jail here and not abroad.

J. Stubbs Clyde, Tx, former Marshall Co. resident

Rights?

April 17, 2012 by Anonymous, 2 years 14 weeks ago
Comment: 14008

Inmates should not have ANY rights while incarcerated. Rights are given to us to live in a civilized society.

inmates & rights

May 11, 2012 by Anonymous, 2 years 10 weeks ago
Comment: 14047

when your in jail u dont have any rights an if u think its a cake walk well let me tell u it's not as for as 3 meals a day u dont even get enought food to fill u up an u get no meat only gravy an bread the drink is not sweet only colored water you beg others for theirs because your so hungry an with as many inmates that are in jail right now you dont have a bed an your lucky if u have a blanket so many people its so loud u couldnt think stright if u wanted to an everybody sins your lying if u say u dont only one man was perfect an it ant you. i bet you cant even guess who.

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