Vandehey v. Vallario

Criminal Justice
Case No. 06-CV-1405, United States District Court, District of Colorado
ACLU Case No. 2006-03


This class action, filed July 19, 2006, alleges that prisoners in the Garfield County Jail in Glenwood Springs, Colorado, are subjected to a pervasive pattern of disproportionate and excessive force carried out by deputies’ misuse and abuse of pepperball guns, restraint chairs, tasers, electroshock belts, and pepper spray. The jail has no written policies that limit deputies’ use of the first four of these devices, and the suit alleges that the one-page policy on pepper spray is insufficient as written and widely violated in practice.

In an amended complaint filed on August 1, 2006, attorneys for prisoners also alleged that the jail regularly denies mental health care to indigent prisoners with serious mental health needs. The suit further alleges that the jail regularly imposes harsh disciplinary sanctions without providing prisoners with notice, an opportunity to be heard, and other procedural protections required by due process.
While ACLU attorneys were investigating the prisoners’ allegations in the month before this suit was filed, the Garfield County Sheriff Lou Vallario adopted a new policy on attorney visits. The new policy prevented ACLU attorneys from meeting with some prisoners who had written to the ACLU seeking legal assistance. That policy, which the ACLU originally challenged in a separate lawsuit, is also at issue in this class action.


Autum White
Gregory Whitehair
Mark Silverstein , ACLU of Colorado Legal Director
Taggart Hansen
Taylor Pendergrass , ACLU of Colorado Staff Attorney

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