Federal Appeals Court Allows Our Class Action to Go Forward; Lawsuit Challenges Male Prison Guards’ Videotaping Strip Searches of Female Inmates

Yesterday, the federal Court of Appeals in Boston let stand a lower court’s opinion that our case alleging that male correctional officers at the women’s prison in Chicopee routinely videotaped female inmates’ naked bodies while the women were being strip searched could proceed as a class action. Our lawsuit alleges that since the Western Massachusetts Regional Women’s Correctional Center (WCC) opened in 2007, the jail has had a policy of permitting male officers to videotape strip searches of female prisoners in non-emergency situations. Our lawsuit alleges that this policy is degrading and unconstitutional.

The Court’s ruling, by a three-judge panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit, denied the defendants’ request to review the May 23, 2013 opinion of District Judge Michael Ponsor to certify a class of approximately 178 women who have been videotaped by a male officer. Any woman who was held at the WCC and videotaped by a male officer during a strip search since September 15, 2008, is a member of the class. The defendants had asked the Court of Appeals for permission to appeal the district court’s ruling on the grounds that class certification was incorrect and would put irresistible pressure on them to settle the lawsuit.

The parties will continue to engage in discovery in the case until the end of the year. The Court will rule on the constitutionality of the policy in early 2014.

If you believe you are a class member, please call us at 617-742-4100.

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