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Thakker v. Doll (U.S. District Court – Middle District of Pennsylvania, March 31, 2020): The federal district court issued a temporary restraining order requiring the immediate release of the ten petitioners, health-vulnerable immigrants held in civil detention under order of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in Pennsylvania correctional facilities. They  alleged  violations of their 5th Amendment Due Process rights based on prison conditions, including tight confines that do not allow for appropriate distancing, few shared toilets and showers for many detainees, and frequently broken laundry facilities that prevent washing of clothing and bedding. Furthermore, they argued  that ill detainees have not and cannot be effectively distanced from well detainees and that the conditions create a tinderbox ripe for rampant COVID-19 infection. The court agreed: “[S]hould we fail to afford relief to Petitioners we will be a party to an unconscionable and possibly barbaric result. Our Constitution and laws apply equally to the most vulnerable among us, particularly when matters of public health are at issue. This is true even for those who have lost a measure of their freedom. If we are to remain the civilized society we hold ourselves out to be, it would be heartless and inhumane not to recognize Petitioners’ plight.” Read the decision here

View all cases in the Judicial Trends in Public Health – May 1, 2020.

View all cases under “Constitutional Rights & the Public’s Health.”