John Leonard Cruz says DOC is not meeting its obligations to provide basic housing and necessities for inmates.
Guam – Another inmate is attempting to sue the Department of Corrections on violation of civil rights claims, which adds to the growing list of inmates who have attempted to take action against the agency for alleged harsh treatments.
While some of these lawsuits fall through the cracks because of inadequate representation, some have caught the attention of the courts.
The latest case involves John Leonard Cruz, a federal inmate who’s suing for $18 million in damages.
The lawsuit was filed by John Leonard Cruz who’s serving time for poaching of endangered animals, specifically a green sea turtle. He was initially sentenced to probation but his sentence was later revoked when he tested positive for illegal drugs. For that, he was sentenced to 11 months in prison.
Now, he’s filing a civil right complaint against the Department of Corrections for allegedly violating his constitutional rights.
In his complaint, Cruz reiterates some of the previous complaints made by other prisoners, such as lack of medical and mental health treatments, lack of personal hygiene materials and proper bedding and an inoperable wash sink. For example, says Cruz, instead of pillows, inmates are forced to use tissue paper. Cruz claims his physical and mental health are declining and deteriorating “due to negligence caused by the Department of Corrections.”
He is asking for $9 million in punitive damages and another $9 million for negligent infliction of mental and emotion distress, for a total of $18 million in damages.
Cruz isn’t the only inmate who’s attempted to sue the department on similar allegations. About a year ago three inmates also filed a lawsuit against DOC. Justin Ken Taisipic, Glenn Manley and Peter John Rios complained about a host of issues from inadequate housing and sanitation, poor plumbing, no running water, violation of religious rights and illegal strip searches, among other reasons.
They were asking for even more in damages, $15 million per prisoner. Other inmates also complained about the food they were being fed, claiming the nutritional value was so poor and that it was sometimes being served spoiled that many prisoners were losing an average of 40 pounds over a year’s time.
That issue, however, has since been resolved since it fell within a stipulated order between DOC and the District Court of Guam.
At this time, DOC is under a court-ordered deadline to meet certain conditions as part of the stipulated order. Last year January, federal judge Alex Munson gave the agency a series of deadlines to meet after decades of failing to meet certain prison standards. However, it’s unclear as to the progress of the order as the reports are being filed under seal.
You can read Cruz’s federal complaint by clicking on the file below.