Lawsuit over inmate smoking alleges cruel and unusual punishment - WSFA.com: News Weather and Sports for Montgomery, AL.

Lawsuit over inmate smoking alleges cruel and unusual punishment

Posted: Updated:
  • More newsMore>>

  • Why are Americans obsessed with missing plane?

    Why are Americans obsessed with missing plane?

    Monday, April 21 2014 10:35 AM EDT2014-04-21 14:35:12 GMT
    From the disappearances of aviator Amelia Earhart to labor union leader Jimmy Hoffa, there's just something about a good mystery that Americans find too tantalizing to resist. Perhaps that's why the saga of...More >>
    From the disappearances of aviator Amelia Earhart to labor union leader Jimmy Hoffa, there's just something about a good mystery that Americans find too tantalizing to resist. Perhaps that's why the saga of missing...More >>
  • Boston Marathon begins under tight security

    Boston Marathon begins under tight security

    Monday, April 21 2014 10:14 AM EDT2014-04-21 14:14:07 GMT
    One year after a pair of homemade pressure-cooker bombs killed three people and wounded more than 260 others, turning a day of athletic triumph into one of tragedy, the Boston Marathon returns to the streets Monday.More >>
    The 118th running of the Boston Marathon began under heavy security Monday morning, a year after the bombings near the race's finish line that killed three people and wounded more than 260 others.More >>
  • SKorean president: Ferry crew actions 'murderous'

    SKorean president: Ferry crew actions 'murderous'

    Monday, April 21 2014 9:23 AM EDT2014-04-21 13:23:30 GMT
    South Korean President Park Geun-hye said Monday that the captain and some crew members of the sunken ferry committed "unforgivable, murderous acts" in the disaster, which left more than 300 people dead or missing.More >>
    South Korean President Park Geun-hye said Monday that the captain and some crew members of the sunken ferry committed "unforgivable, murderous behavior," while criticism of her own government's handling of the disaster...More >>
MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) -

A lawsuit claiming prison officials turned a blind eye to inmates smoking indoors is moving forward. The Alabama Court of Civil Appeals ruled former inmate Jason Sweatman had the right to file a cruel and unusual punishment claim.

Sweatman filed suit in Barbour County Circuit Court against the warden at Ventress Correctional Facility. He claimed the warden "acted with deliberate indifference" by failing to enforce the no-smoking policy.

"As a result I along with other nonsmoking inmates (were) forced to breathe secondhand smoke of nearly 1400 inmates constantly," said Sweatman, who is now out of prison and living in North Alabama.

Sweatman argued the lax enforcement led to health concerns for him and other inmates. The circuit court dismissed the case, and Sweatman appealed. The Alabama Court of Civil Appeals ruled he had the right to have his case heard and sent the case back to Circuit Court.

In its decision, it cited federal cases where inmates had claimed constant exposure to secondhand smoke amounted to cruel and unusual punishment.

Just this week, Sweatman retained two Montgomery-based attorneys, Charles Turnip seed and Virginia Lucia. He had previously represented himself, including for the appeal.

"This case appears to have merit," Turnip seed said. "Mr. Sweatman deserves to be protected under the law just as any other citizen of the United States."

The Court of Civil Appeals did rule Sweatman cannot collect monetary damages from the warden. No new trial date has been set.

Copyright 2013 WSFA 12 News.  All rights reserved.

Powered by WorldNow