BUNKER HILL — Five more inmates are suing Miami Correctional Facility alleging they were subjected to cruel and unusual punishment, including being forced to stay in a dark cell flooded ankle-deep with sewage water.
Twenty-one inmates are now suing the facility for the living conditions inside the restrictive housing units.
The lawsuits have all been filed by the American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana on behalf of the inmates. Six lawsuits were initially filed in July, with new complaints coming over the next three months.
Nearly all the prisoners allege they were forced to live in darkness for sometimes months because the prison never fixed broken light fixtures and replaced broken windows with sheet metal, blocking light from the cell.
Inmate Kenneth Duckwall said in his filing that he was placed in one of the units after being stabbed in the head and leg by another inmate, which required numerous staples to close the wound.
Duckwall said he was placed in the cell with another prisoner who attempted to assault him. The rooms are meant to only hold one inmate. After five days, he was moved to another isolation unit that had a non-operational light.
Two weeks later, Duckwall said he was moved to another cell in which the floor was covered ankle-deep with sewage water. This remained for a week, and he was not given adequate supplies to clean it up, according to the lawsuit.
Duckwall said he had to rip open his mattress to try to mop up the water. He was then charged for destroying the mattress, according to the complaint.
Inmate Mustafa Nur said in his filing he was placed in a cell with broken glass covering the floor. The room remained extremely dark at all times.
The complaint says the room was filthy, with feces from another prisoner smeared on the wall, bed and floor. Nur said he requested cleaning supplies, but they were not given to him for weeks, forcing him to remain in a “dark, grossly unhygienic cell.”
Nur said he became extremely distraught and disoriented in the constant darkness, and had trouble sleeping. He began to hallucinate that there were bugs crawling on his blanket and skin, according to the lawsuit.
Inmate Evan Sapp said he was placed into a cell that had a window covered by metal and had a gutted light fixture. Live wires hung from the ceiling that shocked him. He was placed in the dark cell for more than 40 days, according to his complaint.
The lawsuits say placing a person in prolonged, isolated darkness for an extended period is a form of torture.
According to the filing, the warden and deputy warden at the prison continuously ignored the men’s claims and acted maliciously or with reckless disregard toward the inmates.
The lawsuits assert that prison officials violated the plaintiffs’ Eighth Amendment rights and are liable for compensatory and punitive damages.
Kenneth Falk, legal director of the ACLU of Indiana, said stories continue to emerge from the prion’s restrictive housing unit that “shock the conscience and violate the Constitution.”
“In case after case, prison officials subjected these men to brutal conditions no human being should ever experience — knowing full well the pain and trauma they were inflicting,” he said.
The Indiana Department of Correction said in an email it does not comment on active litigation.