In addition, 17 other South Bay inmates have asked to have similar claims attached to a habeas corpus case currently under way before Palm Beach Circuit Judge Peter Blanc. That case, Jerry A. Charles v. Kathleen Kearney, filed in March 2000, involves Charles, a Ryce Act detainee who was placed in solitary confinement at South Bay. Kearney is secretary of the Florida Department of Children and Families, which has administrative responsibility for the Sexually Violent Predator Program established by the Ryce Act.
Public defenders from Miami-Dade and Palm Beach counties, who are representing the inmates seeking to attach their claims to Charles, say their goal is to restrict what they call Wackenhut's indiscriminate use of solitary confinement at South Bay. Palm Beach County Public Defender Ken Johnson says that solitary confinement is used at South Bay "whenever, wherever and indefinitely."
The Charles case remains active even though Charles was released from solitary in April of last year, after Judge Blanc issued a "show cause" order on his behalf. In May 2000, the state moved to dismiss the suit, arguing that Charles' release from solitary rendered the case moot.
But in July, Blanc denied the state's motion to dismiss on the grounds that the Wackenhut practices were "capable of repetition," in a manner "not subject to judicial review." In December, Blanc granted Charles' original habeas petition, thus retroactively confirming that the solitary confinement was a due process violation. And he denied a new state motion to dismiss, again continuing the case on the "capable of repetition" grounds.