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Prisoner Education Guide

Sacramento County Settles Former Jail Prisoner’s Lawsuits for $3,800

In February 2015, Sacramento County, California agreed to settle three pro se federal civil rights actions filed by a former Sacramento County jail prisoner alleging theft of his mail, opening of his legal mail outside his presence and failure to provide at least three hours of out-of-cell recreation time per week.

David Allen Thompson, Sr. was incarcerated at the Sacramento County Main Jail for 38 months. During that time, jail staff and officials with the District Attorney’s Office allegedly seized his mail under false pretenses, opened his legal mail outside his presence and denied him out-of-cell recreation for up to sixty days multiple times. Sometimes Thompson received rejection notices for the confiscated mail, sometimes not. The notices he received listed the reasons for seizing his mail as “3-way mail, girls in panties, sexual content, porn photos.” However, none of the letters contained any of those types of content; rather, they were often letters to and from friends or religious volunteers who visited the jail. The notices said the letters had been seized and “forwarded to the D.A.’s office.”

Thompson’s public defender received copies of some of the confiscated letters with the notices confirming they were being sent to a Deputy District Attorney.

Further, legal mail from courts, attorneys and government officials was allegedly delivered already opened to Thompson, though it should have been opened in his presence. When he grieved this issue, he was told the correspondence wasn’t legal mail.

Thompson also received 26 disciplinary violations while at the Main Jail. During his punishment for those violations, which lasted up to 60 days, he was denied out-of-cell recreation. He complained that this violated a state statute which guaranteed a minimum of three hours out-of-cell recreation per week. The seizure of his mail and opening of his legal mail also allegedly violated state law.

Over the course of three years, from 2013 to 2015, Thompson filed three federal civil rights actions pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against sheriff’s department and District Attorney’s Office officials alleging violations of his constitutional rights. Sacramento County settled all three suits for a total of $3,800, although $1,943.87 of that amount was used to satisfy a lien the county had against Thompson. See: Thompson v. Jones, U.S.D.C. (E.D. Cal.), Case No. 2:13-cv-01951-MCE-CKD; Thompson v. Orozco, U.S.D.C. (E.D. Cal.), Case No. 2:14-cv-02111-JAM-DAD; and Thompson v. Jones, U.S.D.C. (E.D. Cal.), Case No. 2:15-cv-00011-TLN-DAD. 

Related legal cases

Thompson v. Jones

Thompson v. Orozco

Thompson v. Jones


 

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