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Troy Anderson lawsuit: Supermax must provide outdoor rec, judge rules

troy anderson 140x149.jpg
Troy Anderson.
In what amounts to a landmark decision, a federal judge has ruled that the conditions of solitary confinement at the Colorado State Penitentiary constitute "a paradigm of inhumane treatment" and must change -- notably, so that inmates locked down in their cells 23 hours a day can have at least three hours a week of natural light, fresh air and outdoor exercise. "The Eighth Amendment does not mandate comfortable prisons, but it does forbid inhumane conditions," U.S. District Judge Brooke Jackson wrote in an order issued last Friday.

CSP has an interior courtyard that could be modified to permit outdoor exercise for inmates, Jackson notes. But since it opened in 1993, the state supermax has permitted its high-security inmates only to exercise in an odd-shaped room on each tier equipped with a chin-up bar; small holes allow some fresh air from outside to reach the room. Calling CSP "out of step with the rest of the nation" -- even the notorious federal supermax in Florence allows its inmates outdoor recreation in individual cages -- Jackson declared that prison officials must provide its charges with "meaningful exposure" to natural light and air.

Jackson's ruling came in the case of Troy Anderson, 42, a mentally ill inmate serving an 83-year sentence stemming from two shootouts with police. He's one of ten inmates who have been at CSP for ten years or more with hardly any exposure to the outdoors (except during transport to court) during that time. His lawsuit, filed with the aid of student lawyers from the University of Denver's Sturm College of Law, challenged several aspects of life at CSP, from mental health treatment to the policies that have kept him from progressing to a less restrictive prison, as unconstitutional.

Nicknamed "Evil," Anderson has a long history of erratic behavior, suicide attempts and violence going back to an early age, a voluminous psychiatric record explored in my 2006 feature "Head Games." Prison officials maintain that he poses an ongoing threat to himself and other inmates as well as staff.

But Jackson found that the challenges in managing an inmate such as Anderson didn't justify the total denial of any access to outdoor recreation. Citing the testimony of one senior official who defended the current exercise regime, he wrote, "The fact that this highly experienced senior official in the CDOC believes that a tiny indoor room with a chin-up bar and a grate with small openings to the outside provides an 'outdoor environment' and 'lots of opportunities for exercising,' and that it is okay for Mr. Anderson to be confined without outdoor exercise or any real exposure to fresh air and the out of doors for twelve years and counting, is troubling, to say the least."

On other issues, the judge ordered a fresh look at Anderson's medication issues and mental health treatment. He adopted a wait-and-see attitude toward new policies that are supposed to address other inmate concerns about how inmates receive bad behavior reports, known as "negative chrons," that can prolong their stay in solitary confinement without a clear appeal process.

At Anderson's trial, other inmates testified about suicidal thoughts brought on by the severe isolation and being deprived of any exposure to the outdoors. "I go to bed crying sometimes because I feel I have no hope of being outside of that cell any more," one said.

More from our News archive: "Troy Anderson lawsuit: Supermax conditions draw criticism from judge."


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30 comments
ALAWLOR303
ALAWLOR303

I spent a year in administrative segregation as an act of retaliation by prison officials. I am what society refers to as, sane. I exited administrative segregation to experience fear and agitation to stimuli. Today, I have difficulty coping with the activity in my home or enjoying conversation. I could not fathom the profound impact of Troy's situation. Mental illness, on any level, should not be treated by isolation. Lack of stimulation and human interaction would most certainly cause physical and mental deterioration. Remember, Troy is human. Also, he will someday encounter population, whether in prison or society. Does anyone believe he will be any better by DOC's answer to mental illness?

DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

U$A = a rogue torture state

RobertChase
RobertChase topcommenter

Colorado's bestial Department of Corrections has closed its second maximum security unit because the Federal government will not allow the DOC to keep torturing prisoners by keeping them in solitary confinement.  The prison was opned just two years ago and we are still paying off the bond for building it.

Cassie Muldrow
Cassie Muldrow

Do you realize that we have more incarcerated people than any other country in the world? You have NO IDEA what each person's individual crimes may be. Don't worry, prison is not a country club- and it never will be. Decent living conditions for your fellow human beings should be granted, because they are just people in the end. But we can keep your comments in mind in case something should happen and ya'll wind up there with them. With the amount of hostility and anger it sounds like you're on the right path.

alanprend
alanprend

Brittany Glidden, one of the attorneys representing Anderson, has issued the following statement in response to Judge Jackson's order:

 

"While we are very happy that Mr. Anderson will now receive regular outdoor exercise, he is one of hundreds of Colorado prisoners who are denied this basic human need. Many prisoners at CSP have not been outside or felt the sun in over a decade. We are hopeful that this decision will be a catalyst for Colorado to end this inhumane practice for all people within its custody."

Richard Parniawski
Richard Parniawski

How much is the Colorado tax payer willing to pay for the security required to get this fellow to and from the empty open air area? There is a reason he is in 23hour lockup!

Trent Dozier
Trent Dozier

Wow...All the ignorance in this thread gives me a good insight into why our general society is so dumb. What do one of you retards know about any one inmate in a supermax? What do you know about the rate of innocent inmates in a supermax? Think there is anyone there that killed their daughters rapist? Ahh fuck it just condemn them all as one.

Jonny D Foxtrot
Jonny D Foxtrot

Every prison - every single one - should have every amenity immediately removed. TV. Gym/Weight Room. Phone. Computers. All of it... It's prison, goddammit, not a fucking 'limited freedom' country club...you did the crime to end up in there? FUCK YOU. Sit and rot for your entire sentence, period. Doing time should be just that - doing time. Not watching soap operas...not having a free gym membership...not outdoor recreational facilities that put some of our public parks for kids to shame...

Drew Fuelling
Drew Fuelling

Insanely frightening Geoff, and predictable.

Jon Parniawski
Jon Parniawski

Nope...while at it, take away TV, 'gym', phone calls...everything but a cot, blanket, toilet, sink, and jumpsuit/flopflops...they are there for a reason (and usually wasting tax dollars)

Geoff Frazier
Geoff Frazier

The anger and bloodlust on this thread is frightening. Are we as bad as the criminals we're discussing?

Victoria Payne
Victoria Payne

I say yes, then they may not fast and complain about the food. Terry Nichols may just run for it. OK, now that I wrote that, some of them will and the relatives could sue. Not a good idea. It still costs tax payers dollars, but less if they try to commit suicide by the gun of a committed guard. That is a tough job. Know a great person who did that for years. It was a hard job! I say NO!

Joe Del Boogs Estes
Joe Del Boogs Estes

One perspective is that outlets for recreation will make the prison staff safer. However if you ask the general populace a loaded qustion, "should felons be given amenities?" the answer will be resounding hell no.

Joe Del Boogs Estes
Joe Del Boogs Estes

One perspective is that outlets for recreation will make the prison staff safer. However if you ask the general populace a loaded qustion, "should felons be given amenities?" the answer will be resounding hell no.

Marcus Netters
Marcus Netters

We give them free health care, cable. Schooling. Sure why not give them sunlight. Their Criminals not monsters... Oh wait

Nicole Lindauer
Nicole Lindauer

They are human beings and of course they should get to go outside! If the federal prison lets it inmates out, then all Colorado prisons should do the same. It's definitely inhumane to to keep an individual locked up 23 hrs a day, regardless of the crime!! Most of these people suffer from mental illness and exercise AND FRESH AIR are essential to their health. Have some compassion!

Nicole Lindauer
Nicole Lindauer

They are human beings and of course they should get to go outside! If the federal prison lets it inmates out, then all Colorado prisons should do the same. It's definitely inhumane to to keep an individual locked up 23 hrs a day, regardless of the crime!! Most of these people suffer from mental illness and exercise AND FRESH AIR are essential to their health. Have some compassion!

Jack Wenzinger
Jack Wenzinger

Absolutely. They should be run out of a bunker into an open field when the sportsman yells, "PULL!"

Richard Scott Taylor
Richard Scott Taylor

no.. Let them rot. No books, no nothing. Walls, and very poor food.. That's it. There's a reason they are in Supermax. Normal prison was too free...

John David Garcia
John David Garcia

when they get throw in prison, they should be thankful its in the U.S. and not in russia, or china, or iran . He's lucky to even see the sun again. take um out back and put a bullet in their head! fuck um!

Cassie Muldrow
Cassie Muldrow

Yeah, humans need sunlight and fresh air. Dan.. pay for what? A patch of grass and a ball? That might cost you $1 of your taxes. Please.

Ken Tucker
Ken Tucker

In a cell for life, nothing more.. and why do we pay for it.. it's enough they get the best free health care... damn we are screwed as a moral and decent society...

Christy Young
Christy Young

Maybe they shouldn't have done the stuff they did to be put in Supermax in the first place before they bitch about not being able to feel the fresh air. No sympathy for the devil.

Dan Goble
Dan Goble

Great - make the judge pay for them!!

Juan_Leg
Juan_Leg

This is incredible ! Alan , we both know the part you played in helping men who society have completely forgotten.  I'm sure you would agree , you can't get to a shower quick enough to wash it all off as if it clang to your body . Not to mention the time it takes to shake it off mentally .

Yes , the Chuck-E.-Cheese killer , ( Nathan Dunlap ) ,  'resides' there and has for nearly twenty years. I can honestly say I'd take death over 20 years of that hell . He's been waiting ....

Sir Owens , R.P. White , and several other notable killers are there as well. BUT , unless they are on Death Row , they are NOT automatically sent to C.S.P. Continued bad behavior dictates this.

OR , you have inmates like Anderson who use C.S.P. as 'Protective Custody' to run from debts he occurred and he ' snitched ' his way around the system where the only safe facility IS , C.S.P.

Anderson is a  'Check-In '. He failed at life and hes followed suit as a prisoner.

I do applaud the decision and offer my most deepest sincere gratitude for your complete coverage of this CRUELTY TO HUMANS matter !

DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

 @RobertChase  ... the Halfway House in Longmont on Main Street -- Longmont Community Treatment Center -- operated by private CMI Management -- does not meet the minimum standards for humane housing and the Feds refuse to house transitional prisoners there, yet the Cities, Counties and State of Colorado keep it full with inmates.

 

In fact, if that same location were to attempt to be an apartment or hotel, it would be denied by the Building Dept. as being unfit for residential housing.

 

That scam has been operating since the 1980's.

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