ACLU Sues Missouri Authorities Over "Deplorable" Conditions at County Jail

October 6, 1999

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

SPRINGFIELD, MO---Acting on behalf of an inmate, the American Civil Liberties Union today filed a class action lawsuit against county officials today, citing inhumane conditions at a jail in Ozark.

The lawsuit, filed by the ACLU of Kansas and Western Missouri in conjunction with the Ozarks ACLU Chapter headquartered here, charges that inmates in the Christian County Jail are subjected to unconstitutional conditions of confinement. Specifically, the ACLU said:

*The jail, which is located on the third floor of a three-story building, has no fire escape or emergency exit, lacks adequate fire safety mechanisms and does not have a written fire safety plan.

* The jail has inadequate staffing and supervision. At times, there are no guards available to supervise the inmates.

* Inmates are confined to their cells at all times, except to make court appearances, take five-minute showers three times a week, visit with their attorneys, or visit with non-attorneys for a maximum of 15 minutes on visitation day.

"The ACLU's response to the deplorable conditions at the Christian County Jail has been on our agenda for quite some time," said Dick Kurtenbach, Executive Director of the ACLU of Kansas and Western Missouri. "This action today illustrates the ACLU's commitment to enforcing fundamental constitutional rights."

The case is Johnathan Mangan v. Christian County Missouri. The attorneys for the ACLU are Eddie M. Lorenzo, Legal Director of the ACLU of Kansas and Western Missouri, and Paul W. Rebein of Shook, Hardy and Bacon, Kansas City, Missouri.

A copy of the complaint as filed in federal court can be viewed at http://ecf.mowd.uscourts.gov/cgi-bin/DocketSheet.pl?99-3373.

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