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Prisoner Settles with Federal Bureau of Prisons Over Civil Right Violations

Lonnie Benefield, a prisoner housed at United States Penitentiary Florence, Colorado, settled his claim against the Federal Bureau of Prisons for $150.00.

Benefield's suit was filed in March, 1998, and settled in June, 2002. The settlement agreement is one of many documents recently obtained by Prison Legal News after a 12-year Freedom of Information Act battle with the BOP.

Benefield claimed violations of his 8th and 14th Amendment rights due to prolonged and retaliatory placement in segregated housing, what the BOP calls the Special Housing Unit. He also claimed that his life was threatened by USP Florence staff, including Warden Joel H. Knowles, prison guard Christine McDowall, and SIS Lieutenant Felz, who, according to his complaint, "labeled [him] as [a] Compound SNITCH[.]" He sued for monetary damages and injunctive relief -- a transfer to another federal prison and placement in general population.

The case was settled on June 2, 2002. Benefield received $150.00 and has been transferred to another federal prison. The United States of America admitted no fault or liability as part of the settlement agreement.

To date BOP officials have yet to announce any disciplinary action against then USP Florence Warden Knowles, SIS Lt. Felz, or prison guard McDowall as it concerns this case.

Sources: Benefield v. USA, No. 98-RB-739 (CBS)(D. Colo. filed Mar. 23, 1998).

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Related legal case

Benefield v. USA