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New York Prisoner Wins Claim for Excessive Confinement

by Ed Lyon

 While Terrell Hales was imprisoned at the Cayuga Correctional Facility (CCF) of New York’s Department of Corrections and Community Supervision (DCCS), he was charged with drug misuse.

On April 15, 2013, he filed a Freedom of Information Law request to DCCS’s commissioner for a copy of the operations manual to the drug testing machine. The request was denied on April 29, 2013, but Hales was given the manufacturer’s address so he could write and request a copy.

The manufacturer would not comply with a copy request.

Hales’ wife found the manual on the internet. She downloaded a copy and mailed it to Hales. The mailroom allowed him to receive the copy.

A later search of Hales’ property by guards found the manual, and Hales was charged with possession of contraband, convicted and sentenced to 90 days in a Special Housing Unit (SHU).

An administrative appeal overturned this finding and sentence on November 28, 2014, but Hales was not returned to CCF until December 12, 2014.

A New York Court of Claims entertained Hales’ challenge to the disciplinary process and 14 days spent in the SHU after the administrative reversal.

The court held the disciplinary procedures were “quasi-judicial in nature and absolutely immune in nature” from liability. Hales’ 14 days in the SHU after the administrative reversal was held to be “wrongful confinement.” Hales was awarded $30 per day for a total of $420, plus he could collect the filing fees he paid for the claims court action. See: Hales v. State of New York, Case No. 2018-018-959, New York Court of Claims.

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Related legal case

Hales v. State of New York