The American Civil Law Union (ACLU) of Florida and Disability Rights Florida co-filed a class action lawsuit against the Sheriff of Broward County after receiving complaints of the county’s lack of COVID-19 regulations within jails. Detainees of Broward County Jails report medical negligence and an inability to social distance. Due to the halting of legal procedures, the majority of these detainees are awaiting trial, a status that should afford them more constitutional rights than those convicted of a crime. According to the ACLU of Florida, those awaiting trial are entitled to proper medical treatment. In reality, it is not uncommon for these individuals to go without necessary medications and medical attention while in Broward County custody.
Although a settlement agreement was filed in December, it has yet to be finalized. The finalization is contingent on several measures, including an expansion of COVID-19 testing and twice-daily temperature checks for the medically vulnerable. On May 10, 2021, the settlement will be brought to a judge who will decide whether or not to make it a court order. Until then, detainees will have the opportunity to bring their disagreements directly to the judge. If a similar lawsuit against Miami-Dade corrections is anything to go by, the success of this settlement could result in a significant decrease in the prison population, lessening the chance of another outbreak.
Source: Rosemary Izaguirre, “Lawsuit Seeks to Safeguard Broward Detainees from COVID.” Miami Herald, March 17, 2021, https://www.miamiherald.com/news/local/community/broward/article249425105.html.
Student Researcher: Lauren Pineiro (Indian River State College)
Faculty Evaluator: Elliot D. Cohen (Indian River State College)