An inmate of the Cache County Jail is suing the Cache County sheriff and Cache County Council for cruel and unusual punishment in forcing him to remain in an overcrowded jail that fails to meet fire and health codes.
The suit, filed in U.S. District Court on Friday, said the jail is designed for 39 inmates. On Oct. 15, 68 prisoners were housed in the facility, many sleeping on mattresses on the floor. The suit alleges more than 70 prisoners have been incarcerated in the jail recently.Inmate Todd Melton filed the suit on behalf of himself and all present and future jail inmates. He seeks $500 per prisoner per day for actual damages and $1,000 per prisoner per day in punitive damages.
The suit also seeks an immediate temporary restraining order prohibiting Cache County from housing more than 39 prisoners in the jail. It also asks the court to demand the county to "immediately and permanently comply with the applicable health codes, life-safety code, fire-safety code, etc."
Melton also asked the court to appoint a monitor to routinely and randomly examine Cache County Jail. The cost of the monitor should be paid by Cache County, the suit said.
The suit alleges charges "inadequate toilets and showers, insufficient bunks with many inmates sleeping on mattresses on the floor; no indoor or outdoor recreation facilities; inadequate fire safety; no sprinkler system; no central fire alarm system; no lighted emergency exit signs; no emergency lighting system; inadequate staffing . . . inadequate and dangerous kitchen facility; inadequate light and inadequate laundry facility."
The suit claims charges county officials have known for sometime that the jail was overcrowded and unsafe but have done nothing about it.
Melton's attorney, Brian Barnard, said Cache County Sheriff Sidney Groll and Cache County Attorney Gary McKean presented a report to the Cache County Council on May 2, 1989, that outlined problems at the prison.
The report, titled Cache County Jail Liability and Needs Assessment, told council members "our jail is grossly overcrowded. We know it's unconstitutional and we know we are going to get sued," Barnard said, paraphrasing the report. "Far be it from me to disappoint them."