In his lawsuit, convicted bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev claims prison staff took away his baseball cap and don’t let him communicate with family members.
Boston Bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev has filed yet another handwritten lawsuit alleging ill treatment in prison.
As LegalReader.com has reported before, Tsarnaev initially filed suit in January. However, he amended his complaint in early March, alleging serial mistreatment.
According to The Hill, Tsarnaev’s latest round of complaints—lodged against private-prison operator BOP and U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland—include claims that it is “cruel and unusual punishment” for him to only be allowed in-person visits from his nieces and nephews.
Although Tsarnaev is allowed to occasionally see his nieces and nephews, he is prohibited from making audio contact with them; he is also not allowed to write or receive correspondence.
On top of that, Tsarnaev also says he is only permitted to call his parents and sister twice per month.
Since 2019, Tsarnaev cannot send pictures to his family, either—something he says has caused him to suffer “psychological injury, emotional distress and destruction of familial relationships.”
As The Hill recounts, Tsarnaev—along with his brother, Tamerlan—planned and executed the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing, which killed three people and injured 264 more.
Several days after the bombing, the two brothers were identified as suspects in a massive manhunt. Tamerlan was killed in a shootout with law enforcement, while Dzhokhar was captured injured but alive.
At trial, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was handed multiple life sentences; he also faces the prospect of execution, depending on the outcome of an appeal likely to be heard by the U.S. Supreme Court.
Since 2013, Tsarnaev has been subject to “special administrative measures” in prison, due to his “proclivity to violence.”
Under SAM, Tsarnaev is denied many of the same privileges afforded to other inmates.
“As a result of the imposition of the SAM restrictions, I have experienced continued, extreme, and unjustifiable difficulties communicating and corresponding with family members and attorneys,” Tsarnaev wrote in his lawsuit.
The Hill notes that Tsarnaev has also been prevented from accessing prison funds, since he has received money from an “unauthorized” person or persons. Prison staff had also confiscated a white baseball hat and bandana that he had purchased from the prison commissary. While Tsarnaev has argued that the confiscation was arbitrary, the Boston Herald observed that Tsarnaev left the scene of the Boston bombing wearing a white baseball cap.
Intriguingly, Tsarnaev contends that another prohibition—on his ability to send “hobby crafts” to his attorney—unjustly interferes with his First Amendment rights, as well as his death penalty appeal.
Showing evidence of his crafts hobby, Tsarnaev says, allows him to build a better relationship with his legal counsel while providing that he is spending his time in prison constructively.