Saturday, September 15, 2018

Muslim Inmate Wins $25,000 Damages Against Correctional Officer

In an unusual success for a prisoner case, a Nevada judge has awarded $15,000 in compensatory damages and $10,000 in punitive damages against a prison correctional officer in a suit by a Muslim inmate.  In Howard v. Foster, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 151629 (D NV, Sept. 6, 2018), the court described the correctional officer's conduct:
On the morning of August 19, 2012, somewhere between 40 and 60 Muslim inmates were holding Eid prayer services in the SDCC gymnasium....  The room was quiet enough for the individual leading the prayer to be heard by the other prayer participants.
During the prayer service, however, [correctional officer] Dicus began talking loudly enough for Howard and other prayer participants to hear. At first, Dicus asked the other officers why the inmates were in the gymnasium for prayer services. Then, Dicus began cursing and disparaging Muslims.... Dicus stated that he hoped Muslims would die....
Howard heard Diggle warn Dicus that the Muslim inmates would file grievances regarding his statements. Dicus responded, "Mother fucker grievance. . . . . I kill[ ] Muslims, you know. . . . They need to get their ass up out of here. What the hell we allowing them to be down there doing whatever they doing?"...
Dicus' outburst began very early on in the Eid prayer service and made the service unbearable to the participants. Because Dicus' comments were so disruptive, the Muslim inmates were not able to complete the  Eid prayer service, and they did not have the Eid feast that they had planned to share in after prayer.