Skip navigation
× You have 2 more free articles available this month. Subscribe today.

Seventh Circuit Questions the Denial of Gloves and Earmuffs to Prisoners

Pedro Diaz, an Illinois state prisoner, filed a federal lawsuit challenging Pontiac state prison officials' refusal to allow him to use a hat and gloves when exercising "in his outdoor cell" in the prison yard in very cold weather. He had medical evidence showing that he required the exercise to keep his back muscles from atrophying due to arthritis. Without protection from the extreme cold, he was unable to exercise.

Prison officials maintained that gloves and a hat had been used to assault guards by placing feces in them then swinging them with enough force to fling the feces onto staff members standing at a distance. During discovery, Diaz requested documentation on such incidents, but prison officials refused to provide it, claiming the discovery demand was too burdensome. The court agreed and dismissed the suit. Diaz appealed.

The Seventh Circuit called it "difficult to believe" that the "prison has no searchable records of inmates' assaults on guards and other prisoners and of their use of hats or gloves to conceal contraband." It said, "(Orison officials who claim that inmates must be denied exercise that they need have to be able to back up the claim," suggesting that testimony regarding the alleged incidents would have been sufficient were searchable records truly unavailable. The court also suggested that earmuffs and backless gloves would protect Diaz and address the prison officials' safety concerns.

The court held that, "although the record compiled in the district court suggests that plaintiff's federal rights may have been violated ... his suit must fail because he does not allege that the failure to provide him with a hat a gloves reflected deliberate indifference on the part of the defendants to his need for those items." Therefore, it affirmed the dismissal. See: Diaz v. Davidson, 7th Cir., No. 14-1952, decided Aug. 20, 2015

As a digital subscriber to Prison Legal News, you can access full text and downloads for this and other premium content.

Subscribe today

Already a subscriber? Login

Related legal case

Diaz v. Davidson