Are Prison Guards Ignorant of Anti-Snitching Prison Culture?

Some civil rights cases lead one towards hysteria.  "Are you kidding me!?!" is the only rational response to  Norman v. Schuetzle, No. 08-1686 (8th Cir. Nov. 9, 2009) (here).  In Norman, a prison inmate made several complaints about how a prison class was conducted.  The prisoner claimed that the class was corrupt.  The prisoner's complaints might have led to the cancellation of a prisoner cookout.

A prison guard showed these complaints to other inmates.  Why?  Really...What legitimate penological interest is there is telling prisoners, "Hey, someone is snitching.  Oh, and the cookout you've all been looking forward to might be cancelled."  Could it be that the prison guard was trying to incite violence against the prisoner?  Is there anyone familiar with prison culture who thinks that is not what the guard was doing?

Given the no-snitch culture that rules prisons, what do you suppose happened?  Of course the plaintiff was mercilessly beaten by an inmate who had seen the grievances.

A split panel of the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals held that the prison guard was not on notice that telling other prisoners that a fellow prisoner is snitching on people, might lead to the prisoner getting assaulted.  Judge Kermit Bye wrote a sober dissent:

Assuming, as we must, that Wrolstad disclosed the content of Norman's grievances to inmates whose interests stood to be adversely affected, the evidence shows Wrolstad's actions violated prison policy. A reasonable jury could conclude Wrolstad was aware of prison policy and his decision to violate the policy is evidence he intended to anger and incite the other inmates. Such a conclusion is especially reasonable in light of the fact that Wrolstad has offered no legitimate reasons for his violation of prison policy. Furthermore, in his affidavit Wrolstad acknowledges he was aware the other inmates were angry and discussing what action they should take in retaliation against Norman.
Slip op. at 32 (Bye, J., dissenting).  This shouldn't be a complicated issue.  One often sees uncomplicated issues resolved wrongly when prisoners are the plaintiffs.

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