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Washington Jail Settles Exercise Suit

On October 12, 1999, the King County (Seattle) jail in Washington settled a class action suit concerning the amount of outdoor exercise provided to ultra high security (UHS) prisoners and detainees.

In 1997 a class action suit was filed challenging the classification process and conditions of confinement for prisoners designated by King County jail officials as ultra high security. The practice of ring County jail officials was, and remains, to classify as USH those detainees accused of offenses that receive widespread media attention. USH is a form of administrative segregation where USH prisoners are kept confined to their cells at least 23 hours a day and have no contact with other prisoners. Also challenged in the lawsuit was the fact that USH prisoners did not receive any fresh air or outdoor exercise and were handcuffed whenever they were out of their cells. The suit was .filed in ring county superior court in Seattle, Washington.

The settlement applies to the King county jail in downtown Seattle. As part of the settlement, the jail immediately agreed to provide USH prisoners with access to an outdoor exercise yard for one hour per day, three days per week. Effective December 31, 2000, the jail agrees to remodel its exercise yard. and provide UHS prisoners with one hour of outdoor exercise a day, five days a week.

King County denied any liability or wrongdoing. The settlement resolves only the exercise issue. The suit sought only declaratory and injunctive relief. The settlement does not preclude any other UPS prisoner from filing suit seeking money damages or relief on any issues not raised in the complaint. Enforcement and monitoring of the suit will be by the law firm that filed the suit, Browne and Ressler, 821 Second Ave. Penthouse Suit, Seattle, WA 98104-1540. (206) 624-7364.

The challenge to the classification process for UPS prisoners was not pursued due to negative changes in the governing law on this topic. See: Bachmeir v. King County, King County Superior Court, Case No. 97-2-289050-SEA.

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Related legal case

Bachmeir v. King County