In 2012, several Delaware prisoners who had been held in prison beyond the end of their sentences filed a class action suit against senior Department of Correction officials to obtain compensation and a court order requiring DOC to fix its broken release system. The goal was to prevent DOC from holding additional inmates beyond the dates on which they were entitled to go free. The men who filed the suit had spent from 2 to 25 extra days in prison, due to errors at DOC. The federal judge handling the case found that a reasonable jury could find that the DOC officials knew of the problem. He also found “genuine disputes of material fact as to whether Defendants were aware of what might be found to be general disorganization and incompetence of DDOC personnel and … of a significant risk that unwarranted punishment might be inflicted on prisoners.” Nevertheless, he dismissed the case because he determined that the prisoners could not prove the officials had been “indifferent” to the problem.
Believing that to be wrong, and still seeking a trial, the prisoners appealed. ACLU-DE agrees with the prisoners, and filed an amicus brief with the Court of Appeals. The brief was written by Wilmington lawyer Bill Sudell and our legal staff.