A federal judge has refused to order the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections to change its policies, saying there was no proof that inmates are in danger of having their rights violated, the Philadelphia Inquirer reports. The ruling emerged from civil trials associated with the Bayside State Prison lockdown of 1997. After the lockdown, hundreds of inmates complained of systematic abuse by guards. More than 350 sued in federal court, and their trials began this year. U.S. District Court Judge Robert B. Kugler turned down requests that the state maintain video cameras in some prison areas, keep a database of inmate complaints of abuse and misconduct, and prohibit the use of nightsticks to help move shackled inmates. Kugler said the inmates’ evidence “consisted almost entirely of a rehash of old events.”
A ruling for the inmates could have been costly for taxpayers, because the plaintiffs’ attorneys could have collected more than $1 million in fees. Kugler ordered the 350 inmate civil cases to be tried separately, allotting one week per case. Eight have concluded, with juries finding for two inmates – one awarded $18,000 and the other awarded $42,000. After a break, the cases began again this week. Next week, a jury will hear the case of an inmate alleging sodomy by guards using a nightstick.