Lawsuit over treatment at Lewisburg prison could become class action

Written by Ben Allen, General Assignment Reporter | Jul 5, 2017 3:51 PM

(Harrisburg) -- A lawsuit over treatment at a federal penitentiary in the midstate is moving forward.

The lawsuit from former inmate Sebastian Richardson alleges that in 2011, he was placed in four-point restraints as punishment.

Policy at the federal Bureau of Prisons allows for the restraints to be used when inmates are being threatening or a danger to themselves or others.

The Bureau has denied Richardson's claim, but a federal judge recently recommended that the lawsuit be certified as class action.

Dave Sprout with the Lewisburg Prison Project, which advocates for inmates' rights, says he believes there are more cases like Richardson's out there.

"They're not a threat to anyone, they're not a danger to anyone. They're just being punished for not having a cell mate. And we believe that is against BOP policy and against the law," says Sprout.

Sprout says the Bureau of Prisons has cut back on its use of restraints, but he says the lawsuit aims to do away with them as punishment.

"There's no penalogical reason for this because they're not a threat to anyone here," he adds.

Another recent lawsuit alleges that prisoners with serious mental issues at Lewisburg have been counseled with crossword puzzles.

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