The American Civil Liberties Union of Oregon announced a settlement Thursday in a lawsuit over unsanitary conditions for inmates at the Douglas County Jail.
As a part of the settlement, the jail must document daily cleaning of its holding cell, allow inmates to shower at least twice a week and document the distribution of clean clothing.
Roseburg resident Terri Carlisle was held at the jail on DUI charges in 2015. She said she was refused prescription medication for nerve pain and held in an overcrowded, unsanitary cell.
Kelly Simon, staff attorney with the ACLU of Oregon, said Carlisle was held under conditions that were “really, really disturbing.”
“Our client was confined with up to 12 other women,” Simon said. “She described women having diarrhea and vomiting in the only open toilet that they had to both sleep and eat next to.
“… They had to beg for toilet paper and one woman even had to wait a number of hours just to get clean clothing and feminine hygiene products after she had bled onto the clothing she was given.”
Simon said she hopes the settlement will help hold the jail accountable and add transparency to the way its inmates are treated.
“While we can’t say for certain what Douglas County will do going forward, I hope that this settlement is a sign that they’re willing to hold themselves accountable to the public and to the people that are in their care,” she said.
Along with the added required documentation, the jail also agreed to reduce the holding cell’s capacity from 12 women to 9.
And it must provide feminine hygiene products to inmates free of charge, a policy the Oregon Legislature is considering for all Oregon jails and prisons in House Bill 2515.
The ACLU of Oregon is still in an ongoing lawsuit with Correct Care Solutions, Douglas County Jail’s private medical services contractor.
Simon said Carlisle is feeling positively about the settlement with Douglas County, but is still concerned about the treatment of inmates — especially after a video went viral last month of a man who was seen shoved out of the jail in the middle of a mental health crisis.
“Nearly every day we hear from people who are incarcerated, either in our state prisons or our county jails, about the lack of needed medical care, about mistreatment, about poor conditions and it really is time for us to start having a bigger conversation about oversight in our jails,” Simon said. “We can’t sue our way out of this problem and I think it’s important that we begin thinking about creative solutions at the local and state level to hold ourselves accountable.”