Shook v. Board of County Commissioners, El Paso County

Criminal Justice
Case No. No. 02-M-0651, United States District Court, District of Colorado; No. 03-1397, Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals; No. 06-1454, Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals
ACLU Case No. 2001-14


This class action alleges that the El Paso County Jail in Colorado Springs fails to protect and provide adequately for prisoners with serious mental health needs, a group that makes up a steadily-increasing portion of the jail's population. When the lawsuit was filed in April 2002, nine prisoners had died in the jail in recent years. In almost every case, the deceased prisoner was suicidal, seriously mentally ill, or displaying symptoms of psychosis from overdose or withdrawal. In the first year that the lawsuit was pending, two additional prisoners in the jail died from suicide.

In July, 2002, the district court denied the defendants' motion to dismiss, but it also denied the plaintiffs' motion for class certification. Plaintiffs appealed the denial of class certification, and they won a favorable 3-0 ruling in the Tenth Circuit on October 18, 2004.
After the case returned to the district court in 2005, the Plaintiffs filed a Supplemental Complaint. Additional prisoners intervened as plaintiffs, and Plaintiffs filed a renewed motion for class certification. In July, 2005, the district court denied class certification a second time, and the Plaintiffs appealed again to the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals.


David Fathi , ACLU National Prison Project
Mark Silverstein , ACLU of Colorado Legal Director
Tom Nichols

Return to Search Menu