The Eighth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution prohibits the federal government from imposing cruel and unusual punishments in prisons and jails. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled the Cruel and Unusual Punishment Clause also applies to the states.
Aaron Hos is one of hundreds of prisoners at the Vigo County Jail who was living in harmful conditions that should have been remedied more than a decade ago. Instead, in August 2013, these conditions were again the subject of an ACLU of Indiana class action lawsuit filed in Vigo Superior Court.
Daniel Littlepage, a Native American, is a prisoner confined at the Miami Correctional Facility located in Bunker Hill, Indiana. His religion requires him, among other things, to pray with others in a Sacred Circle. John Walker Lindh, a prisoner at the Federal Correctional Institution in Terre Haute, Ind., practices Islam, which requires him to participate in group prayer. Paul Veal, a prisoner at the Pendleton Correctional Facility, is a practicing African Hebrew Israelite, a religion which mandates communal worship and study as a necessary component of creating a lifestyle that complies with the desires and commandments of God.
For the approximately 450 mentally ill prisoners currently kept in isolation in Indiana prisons, conditions include spending 23 hours a day or more alone in their cells, with little to no access to treatment. This often results in significant worsening of symptoms and illness, including hallucinations, increased paranoia and depression, and self-harm – even suicide. In fact, since 2007, nearly 50 percent of inmate suicides within the Indiana Department of Correction system were committed by mentally ill offenders who were being segregated, often in isolation, from other inmates.