United States District Court, W.D. Louisiana, Shreveport Division
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
L. HORNSBY U.S. MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
Advocacy Center, on behalf of inmates at the David Wade
Correctional Center (“DWCC”), filed this putative
class action to seek injunctive relief with respect to the
mental health care afforded inmates who are held in extended
lockdown on the south compound in buildings N-1 through N-4,
which are solitary confinement and extended lockdown tiers.
Several months before suit was filed, counsel for the
Advocacy Center wrote DWCC and demanded that it place a
litigation hold on relevant evidence, specifically including
video footage from cameras located in the N tiers.
were held between the Advocacy Center and prison officials
about how to preserve and transfer the recordings. In the
midst of those discussions, Warden Jerry Goodwin elected to
disconnect the tier cameras from hard drives that recorded
the video, leaving the cameras as live view only. Before the
court is the Advocacy Center's Motion for
Preliminary Injunction (Doc. 45) that asks the court
to order prison officials to restore the video storage
capacity of the tier cameras and provide copies of all video
to the Advocacy Center. For the reasons that follow, it is
recommended that the motion be denied.
of the Motion and Hearing
motion for preliminary injunction (Doc. 45) and memorandum in
opposition (Doc. 49) set out the relevant facts in
considerable detail and include supporting affidavits and
other exhibits. The undersigned held a conference to discuss
the motion. Counsel expressed general agreement that the
principal issues-whether the court can and should order DWCC
to reactivate recording of the tier cameras and provide the
plaintiffs copies of the recordings-are primarily legal
stated that they would like to present witnesses and evidence
relevant to potential remedies, such as the relative cost and
burden of proposed technical solutions. They were afforded
that opportunity when the court held an evidentiary hearing
on June 28, 2018. The evidence received at the hearing was
largely consistent with the earlier written submissions. A
summary of the relevant facts are set forth below.
court also discussed at the prehearing conference that any
claim of spoliation and related remedies was not at issue in
connection with the motion for prospective injunctive relief.
It would be more appropriate to address such matters after
motion practice and any required factual development that
targets the spoliation issues. Minutes at Doc. 56, pg. 2.
divided into two compounds: north and south. The south
compound is comprised of five buildings designated as N-1
through N-4, and H-5. Buildings in N-1 through N-4 house
offenders assigned to restrictive housing or maximum custody
due to disciplinary issues or classification designations.
housing units are often referred to as tiers. They are long
hallways with cells along the side. There is a shower area,
referred to by some of the witnesses as a shower cage, where
restraints are removed after the inmate is inside the shower.
There is also a lobby area, and officers control access and
communications from a key room or control room.
in the mid-2000's, the prison installed video cameras to
monitor the tiers in N-1 through N-4. The tier cameras were
aimed down the hallways and did not capture video of the
inside of cells (except for a few cells set aside for suicide
watch). The cameras do not capture any audio. Warden Jerry
Goodwin and other witnesses testified that the purpose of the
cameras was to ensure that officers were making rounds at the
appropriate times. The prison was not required by law or DOC
policy to maintain the cameras. Warden Goodwin and other
prison officials testified that rounds are now monitored by a
card swipe system that requires an officer to swipe an
identification card at the end of a tier to mark his presence
at a certain time.
tier cameras are motion activated and, until recently,
recorded to hard drives in five-minute increments. Once the
hard drives were filled, the cameras automatically began to
overwrite existing footage with new video footage. It has
often been said that the hard drives stored the last 30 days
of footage, but that was a mere estimate that depended on how
often the motion sensors activated to commence a five-minute
recording. Witnesses testified that, beginning in February
2017, oscillating fans were installed in N-1 through N-4, and
their motion ...