Muslim Ex-Inmate Settles Prison Treatment Lawsuit
August 13, 2009A former inmate who accused federal prison workers in Illinois of defiling his Quran and torturing him with a nightstick when he complained has settled his civil rights lawsuit for $48,000, one of his attorneys said Thursday.
U.S. District Judge Michael Reagan announced the settlement involving Hakeem Shaheed in an order last week and canceled the scheduled Sept. 14 jury trial, giving both sides two months to put the deal in writing. Terms were not disclosed.
On Thursday, Shaheed attorney John Stainthorp called the settlement "a significant amount of money" that "recognizes the extent of the injuries our client suffered."
"Obviously there's been a recognition by the United States - the Bureau of Prisons - that there was abuse of Mr. Shaheed that was unconscionable," Stainthorp said.
Shaheed, who was released from prison in 2006, said by telephone from his New Jersey home that he might publicly discuss the matter later Thursday.
James Lewis, a federal prosecutor representing several of the defendants, deferred comment until after the settlement is finalized.
Shaheed, 50, was a practicing Muslim imprisoned at the federal lockup in Marion from April 1996 to early October 2005, according to the 2007 lawsuit. Specifics about his convictions were not immediately available.
After the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, Muslim prisoners "suffered much mistreatment by guards and employees at the prison," the lawsuit claimed without detailing those other abuses.
Shaheed also alleged that guards placed his Quran on a spit-stained floor.
After Shaheed reported some of mistreatment to authorities including agents with the Justice Department's Office of Inspector General in 2005, the lawsuit claims, a prison lieutenant allegedly "intentionally humiliated him by putting his hands on Shaheed's head and squeezing the inmate's kufi" - his religious knitted hat - "in an obvious attempt to insult plaintiff's religion."
After Shaheed reported that, unidentified prison workers ground a baton into his spine and at one point pressed it into his pants, according to the suit. Assailants also twisted Shaheed's toes and put a chain over one of them, then "yanked it extremely hard," according to the lawsuit.
Shaheed later was transferred by wheelchair to a federal prison in Terre Haute, Ind.
(Copyright 2009 Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)