A group of nine prisoners has filed a class-action lawsuit against the federal Bureau of Prisons and private-prison company the GEO Group that alleges inhumane and unconstitutional medical care at GEOs Rivers Correctional Institution in Winton, N.C.
The D.C. Prisoners Project of the Washington Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs and the law firm Covington & Burling filed the lawsuit on behalf of all past, current and future prisoners at Rivers, a private facility that opened in 2001 primarily to house prisoners from Washington after a prison complex closed there.
The 48-page complaint called the prison healthcare system at Rivers broken, and cited examples from plaintiffs detailing inadequate medical treatment at the facility, which housed 1,379 prisoners as of June 21, according to Mike Truman, a public information officer for the Bureau of Prisons.
Philip Fornaci, director of the D.C. Prisoners Projectwhich includes three attorneys who advocate on behalf of the prisonerscalled the problems at Rivers very serious, and said his group has received complaints almost from the time the facility opened. We didnt sue any doctors or medical personnelthats not the problem, Fornaci said.
The federal Bureau of Prisons Truman said he cannot comment on the litigation because it is an active case, and John Bulfin, general counsel for the Boca Raton, Fla.-based GEO Group, said he has not yet seen the suit and therefore cannot comment on it. The plaintiffs must now wait for the U.S. District Court in Washington to certify the class action, according to Fornaci. -- by Jessica Zigmond