Court Rules That Correctional Officer Did Not Violate Inmate’s Constitutional Right by Providing Him With A Dirty Razor When There Were Alternatives Available

May 8, 2018

Judge Sara Darrow of the U.S. District Court for the Central District of Illinois granted summary judgment in favor of a correctional officer at a county jail in Johnson v. Roberts, No. 16-2369.  Inmate Henry Johnson claimed that his constitutional rights were violated when the officer allegedly provided him with a “dirty” electric razor, resulting in a fungal infection on the inmate’s head which required antibiotics, steroids, and anti-fungal medication. When provided the allegedly “filthy” razor, Inmate Johnson complained and was told by the officer that he could rinse the razor in water before using it. Judge Darrow found that there was no “serious risk of harm” known to the officer after he instructed Plaintiff to rinse the razor and that the officer did not therefore act with deliberate indifference. The Court explained that no reasonable inference could be made that the communal use of the razor exposed Johnson to a serious risk of harm. Johnson did not allege that communicable diseases were widespread throughout the facility, or that any particular inmate who used the razor suffered from such a condition. The court further explained that given the alternatives to the electric razor available to Johnson (disposable razor, Magic Shave, not shaving at all), there was no reasonable inference that Johnson was forced to use the “dirty” razor at the time the officer provided it to him.  Because Johnson believed the razor to be unsanitary at the time he used it, he cannot claim that the consequences of his decision violated his constitutional rights. Michael Condon and Tara Grimm represented the correctional officer.

Johnson v. Roberts

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