LANGUAGE

Scott 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 institution's non-smoking policies, thereby exposing the inmates to environmental tobacco smoke (ETS).  The plaintiffs alleged that such exposure violated the constitutional ban on cruel and unusual punishment.  The trial court found for the plaintiffs and awarded permanent injunctive relief.  On appeal, the Court overturned the district court's judgment, finding that the plaintiffs had failed to demonstrate that the pervasiveness of ETS within the correctional institution was unreasonable and constituted a serious risk to their health.  Furthermore, the Court found that the existence of the non-smoking policy in itself indicated that the prison officials did not act with deliberate indifference to the risks of exposure to ETS.