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PLRA Applies to Immigration Detainee’s Conditions Suit

The plaintiff is an INS detainee. The court says that his failure to exhaust administrative remedies pursuant to the PLRA is sufficient reason to dismiss, contrary to other courts that have held immigration detainees not to be prisoners under the PLRA. The court then goes on to dismiss the claims as frivolous under the Wolfish punishment standard, applying the PLRA screening provisions.

Complaints of loud noise, constant light, bad odor, and low room temperature cannot be characterized as punishment. At 312: "Nothing in the allegations suggests any basis for inferring that these conditions are the result of an intent to punish or indeed anything other than normal conditions found in any jail."

A complaint of failure to protect from assault is frivolous because it describes "an essentially spontaneous altercation among inmates" of which prison officials had no prior knowledge.

The plaintiff's complaint of inadequate care for scabies is rejected since he did not suffer permanent harm and was given a cream to combat the itching. At 313 n. 6: "Courts have typically rejected 1983 claims based on allegations of inadequate treatment for scabies." (Citing six such cases--and two that gave credence to such a claim. I believe this compilation of scabies law is unprecedented in our jurisprudence.) See: Preval v. Reno, 57 F.Supp.2d 307 (E.D.Va. 1999).

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Related legal case

Preval v. Reno