The Oklahoma Supreme Court has recently ruled that Oklahomans have a constitutional right to sue jails when they believe that excessive force was used against them. The ruling may have a large impact on county jails, as well as Oklahoman taxpayers.
The decision came on the heels of a video released from the Cherokee County Jail. In the video, guards attacked and severely injured handcuffed prisoner Daniel Bosh. The video, which was viewed by millions, shows the guards slamming Bosh's head into a counter and then knocking him onto the ground.
Bosh later filed a lawsuit against the guards, as well as the jail. At the time, Oklahoma statutes protected jails from such lawsuits. According to Bosh's attorney, "These people were protected by something the legislature had put in called the Oklahoma Governmental Tort Claims Act, which had provided immunity for certain people doing certain actions, as long as they were acting within their job."
The Oklahoma Supreme Court's ruling applies to those who are in jail but have not been convicted for a crime. It may be applied retroactively to those lawsuits that were filed after Bosh initially filed his in 2011.