Convicted murderer Ronnie Lee Gardner doesn't like the Utah State Prison's new death-row facilities, claiming a ban on smoking in his cell block is torture and amounts to cruel and unusual punishment.
The new Uintah cell block, which houses nine death-row inmates and about 250 maximum security prisoners, has been "smoke free" since it opened about two months ago, spokesman Juan Benavidez said Friday."It's primarily a safety and security decision," Benavidez said. "Maximum security inmates are not allowed to have flammable materials."
Medium and minimum security inmates can smoke outside during rec-reation periods but not in their cell blocks, he said.
Gardner filed suit in 3rd District Court, claiming he is suffering from "severe withdrawal" and is being subjected to "psychological torture."
The man who gunned down an attorney during a failed escape in April 1985 from the Salt Lake Metropolitan Hall of Justice says he also is denied running shoes with high arch supports, adequate telephone calls, writing equipment, books and toiletries.
He is joined in his suit by David Robert Jolivet, who is serving 20 years in prison on aggravated kidnapping, aggravated sexual assault, aggravated robbery, forcible sodomy and rape convictions. They claim their cells are dirty, virtually bare and not properly heated.
A similar suit filed last year by Gardner and several other inmates was rejected by 3rd District Judge Frank Noel. The judge ruled the prison conditions may be harsh but they were not unconstitutional.