LANGUAGE

Crowder, et al. v. District of Columbia

Several inmates in the custody of the District of Columbia's Department of Corrections brought an action against the government claiming that prison officials failed to implement the correctional institute's non-smoking policies, thereby exposing the inmates to environmental tobacco smoke (ETS).  The plaintiffs alleged that such exposure violated a city ordinance prohibiting smoking in public facilities as well as the constitutional ban on cruel and unusual punishment.  The Court held that the government violated the ban on cruel and unusual punishment, finding that prison officials acted with deliberate indifference to the unreasonable risks to the inmates' health caused by involuntary exposure to ETS.  The Court observed that such indifference was demonstrated by evidence revealing that both prison guards and inmates smoked in non-smoking areas in violation of the non-smoking policies.  The Court issued a permanent injunction ordering the government to take steps to protect the plaintiffs from further exposure to ETS.