Filthy Jail Conditions in Alameda County Lead to 14th Amendment Claim

By William Vogeler, Esq. on June 27, 2018 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Cynthia Turano, arrested after grabbing her husband's camera in a divorce case, spent the night in jail cells stained with feces and blood and littered with garbage, food scraps, and used medical supplies.

She was not charged and was released the next morning, but by that time was blood-stained from her own menstrual period. Guards refused to give her menstrual pads throughout the ordeal.

She sued the police who arrested her and the jailers who held her. A trial judge dismissed the claims against police, but said the case may proceed against the jailers.

False Imprisonment

In the case against Oakland police, Judge Magistrate Kandis Westmore dismissed because the police had cause to arrest Turano. She allegedly violated a restraining order in the divorce case.

However, the judge said, Turano had a case for a 14th Amendment conditions-of-confinement claim against Alameda County, where she was jailed. Turano had plead her case adequately against the county and sheriff's department.

According to the complaint, Turano was booked into custody in Santa Rita Jail in Dublin. She alleged the jail cells were full of garbage, bodily fluids, and other debris.

She asked deputies for menstrual pads, but was refused. When she left on public transportation the next day, she was "dressed in wet, visibly blood-stained clothing."

Filthy Cells

Her lawyer, Yoland Huang, told Courthouse News that the county violated at its own policies. In another case, she said, the county had promised to provide women menstrual pads while in custody.

"Four months later, Ms. Turano was held in filthy cells, and denied menstrual pads, and ACSO clearly violated all their newly adopted policies," Huang said.

The judge dismissed certain negligence claims against the county, but allowed the plaintiff to amend.

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