In two lawsuits filed against Canyon County officials, the ACLU of Idaho has dramatically improved conditions at the Canyon County Jail. Prisoners originally wrote to the ACLU of mold on the ceilings and walls of the housing areas, little or no outdoor recreation, severe overcrowding causing many to sleep on the floor, poor air circulation, respiratory and skin infections, scalding shower temperatures, inoperable showers and toilets, overflowing drains, discrimination against women, insufficient and unsanitary bedding, and a faulty alarm system. After filing suit to challenge those unconstitutional conditions, the ACLU learned that jail officials were threatening prisoners with retaliation for exercising their constitutional rights to file grievances about conditions at the jail. We filed this lawsuit, Young v. Smith, to stop that retaliation.
The case settled in June 2012, with Canyon County agreeing to a court order requiring jail officials to implement a policy of zero tolerance for actual or threatened retaliation by jail staff, a new training program for jail staff, and two years of monitoring by the ACLU.