Shook Sues Prison Over Solitary Confinement Policy

Shook, partnering with Lambda Legal and the MacArthur Justice Center, sued the Missouri Department of Corrections (MODOC) on behalf of Jane Roe, a formerly incarcerated transgender woman living with HIV. She was put in solitary confinement for more than six years, between 2015 and 2021, while held at the Jefferson City Correctional Center (JCCC) due to an unconstitutional and discriminatory policy against people living with HIV. The severe physical and psychological harms associated with solitary confinement – much of which Ms. Roe endured – are well researched and documented. The United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture has determined that solitary confinement lasting beyond 15 days constitutes torture or cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment in violation of international human rights law.

“We seek justice for our client who endured six years of unwarranted solitary confinement. We will work to prevent this from ever happening to another human being,” said Shook Partner Gregory Wu. Shook has a long history of promoting LGBT+ rights with its Project Affirmation program, which assists those seeking to legally change their names and gender markers.

The lawsuit, Roe v. Precythe, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri, asserts that MODOC’s policy on incarcerated people living with HIV lacks any consideration of modern medicine and does not engage in individualized assessments. In holding Ms. Roe in solitary confinement because of her HIV status without meaningful review, MODOC violated the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments of the U.S. Constitution, the Americans with Disabilities Act and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act. Ms. Roe was also denied the benefits of services, programs and activities offered because of her HIV status. She is seeking that the policy with respect to people living with HIV be enjoined, monetary damages and other relief. 

Shook attorneys involved in the case include Jennifer Hackman, Connor Smith, Bill Walberg and Greg Wu.