This lawsuit, brought pursuant to the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”), Rehabilitation Act (“RA”), and the Eighth Amendment, alleges that New York State and its prison officials violated the statutory and constitutional rights of elderly and medically-vulnerable incarcerated people by transferring them to the remote Adirondack Correctional Facility (“Adirondack”)—essentially creating a prison nursing home—without readying that prison and its procedures to house them safely.
The Firm represents a class of about 100 men, all of whom are over 60, who are currently living at Adirondack, including named Plaintiffs Allen Harper, José Leon, and Ranfis Perez. The Firm also represents Plaintiff Release Aging People in Prison Campaign (RAPP), a grassroots organization that works to end mass incarceration and promote racial justice through the release from prison of older and aging people and those serving long and life sentences.
The suit alleges that Governor Cuomo and the New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision (“DOCCS”) have ignored warnings of the danger that elderly and medically vulnerable people in New York prisons face. Although prison transfers have led to deadly outbreaks around the country, Defendants have responded to the COVID-19 crisis in New York’s prison system by transferring a large group of elderly and medically vulnerable people to Adirondack from prisons throughout the state. These people are now concentrated at a prison that is hours from the nearest major hospital and without the benefit of the medical infrastructure and resources available to other DOCCS prisons, and the state remains without a plan for providing vaccine access to people who are incarcerated. The suit also alleges that Defendants have failed to implement basic testing, quarantining, social distancing, and hygiene procedures to identify and contain any outbreak at Adirondack.
This lawsuit seeks preliminary and permanent injunctive relief and declaratory relief for the unconstitutional and discriminatory practices to which these New Yorkers have been and continue to be subjected. Plaintiffs seek an order requiring Governor Cuomo and DOCCS to implement necessary and prudent measures to prevent incarcerated New Yorkers at Adirondack from contracting COVID-19 and suffering potentially dire complications as a result, including regular testing and standard quarantining of those who have tested positive, permitting people to eat and do other basic activities with proper social distancing, and adequate sanitation and personal protective equipment. It also seeks to stop transfers to Adirondack until transfers can be conducted in accordance with public safety protocols.
The lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of New York on January 8, 2021. A motion for a preliminary injunction was filed on January 11, 2021.
The Relman Colfax case team is co-counseling this litigation with The Legal Aid Society of New York.
News & Updates
In the Media
- The New York Times, 01.26.2021
- The Intercept, 01.08.2021