Isabella County Sheriff Leo Mioduszewski was caught by surprise when he learned American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit against the Isabella County Sheriff’s Department Tuesday.
The suit, the first of its kind while Mioduszewski has been sheriff, claimed conditions at the Isabella County Correctional Facility violate the Eighth Amendment, which protects citizens from cruel and unusual punishment.
When the suit is presented to a judge, Mioduszewski said, it will quickly be realized that there is no merit to the case.
“We’re going to work with the ACLU the best we can,” Mioduszewski said.
The lawsuit includes the complaint for declaratory, injunctive relief and other relief all filed against Isabella County, Sheriff Leo Mioduszewski and Jail Administrator Lt. Thomas Recker.
The plaintiffs, Michael Dunmire, Amanda Hester, Marcus Jackson, Ashley Bush and Sara Dunmire, are all current and prior Isabella County Correctional Facility inmates.
“They’re suing us for things we have no control over,” Mioduszewski said. “My goal would be for everyone to do community service in the community.”
The plaintiffs claim jail inmates are not permitted to any out-of-cell exercise, have limited opportunities to leave cells and must eat, sleep and shower in cells roughly 20 feet by 25 feet that they share with other inmates.
But Mioduszewski said inmates have ample room to exercise in their cells, he said.
“In a perfect world, I’d love to have a big gymnasium, but we’re landlocked,” he said.
The jail was built in the 1950s and there is no room to expand outwardly or through building up from the current jail, Mioduszewski said.
A new facility would be a multi-million dollar investment, which is something the county doesn’t have resources for and Mioduszewski said he wouldn’t make taxpayers pay for.
Additionally, the three women on the case argue female inmates are denied opportunities available to male inmates, including serving as trustees, a position that entitles them to time off their sentence.
They allege Lt. Rucker rejected requests by women to be trustees on several occasions, claiming ICCF to be a “male-oriented jail.”
They claim women are no longer allowed to participate in the community service program, which allows inmates to be released from the jail during the day to complete the community service component of their sentence.
The plaintiffs said the jail vindicates the rights of female inmates under the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, which states the facility’s custom, policy or practice violates the right to be free from gender discrimination.
Mioduszewski said this was claim was false.
“If they’re a high-risk inmate, we’re not going to let them do community service,” he said. “None of the plaintiffs would be eligible for community service because of their classification, anyway.”