AP NEWS

Judge denies Nebraska lawsuit over long solitary confinement

April 10, 2019

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — A federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit filed against Nebraska prison officials by an inmate who was held in solitary confinement for more than two years.

U.S. District Court records show Dylan Landers asked in his October 2017 lawsuit that the officials be ordered to put him back in the general prison population. He alleged his segregated confinement was ordered without due process and that it amounted to “cruel and particularly unusual punishment” in violation of his constitutional rights.

Senior U.S. District Judge Richard Kopf disagreed. Kopf said in his ruling issued Monday that to establish such violations by officials, a prisoner must show that the alleged deprivation is “objectively, sufficiently serious,” resulting “in the denial of the minimal civilized measure of life’s necessities,” and that prison officials were deliberately indifferent to “an excessive risk to inmate health or safety.”

“Here, plaintiff has failed to provide any evidence even approaching this exacting standard,” Kopf wrote.

Landers has been serving time for theft, burglary and other crimes. The Lincoln Journal Star reported that he was placed in solitary confinement at the Tecumseh prison in May 2015, while being investigated for involvement in that year’s Mother’s Day riot.

He remained in solitary confinement until February 2017, when he was transferred to the Nebraska State Penitentiary in Lincoln. A month later he was again put in solitary confinement pending an investigation of a “serious act of violent behavior” during the 2015 rioting, according to his lawsuit.

State court records don’t show that he has been charged with any crime connected to the 2015 rioting, in which two inmates were slain by other inmates.

State prisons spokeswoman Laura Strimple said Landers’ current confinement status is confidential information she can’t provide. The federal court records show that Landers acted as his own attorney.