Criminal Justice Advocacy Clinic Wins TRO Against Bureau of Prisons

On May 12, 2020, Judge Michael P. Shea of the District of Connecticut issued a temporary restraining order against the Warden of FCI Danbury, the federal prison in Connecticut and the sole federal prison in New England that incarcerates women. In its ruling, the Court ordered the Warden to immediately take steps to ensure the safe release of individuals imprisoned at FCI Danbury to home confinement due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Criminal Justice Advocacy Clinic at the Law School represents the four incarcerated individuals bringing suit, who are seeking to represent all imprisoned individuals at the facility at FCI Danbury.

“The public health crisis at FCI Danbury is without dispute,” said Marisol Orihuela ’08, who codirects the Clinic. “Yet the actions by Bureau of Prisons officials are nothing short of callous. The ruling was a necessary step toward ensuring the most basic safety of those imprisoned at FCI Danbury.”

The Court’s ruling is one of the first in the country ordering a federal prison to take immediate steps to remedy the public health crisis in its correctional facility. The Court held that the individuals bringing suit were likely to succeed on their claim that the Warden had acted with deliberate indifference to their risk of contracting serious illness or death due to COVID-19. The Court set additional hearings on the case for May 14 and June 11, 2020, and ordered the parties to engage in expedited discovery.

The case is cocounseled by the Civil Justice Clinic at Quinnipiac Law School, directed by Sarah Russell ’02, and the law firm Silver Golub & Teitell, LLP.