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Case: Boyd v. Denton

1:78-01679 | U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio

Filed Date: Dec. 12, 1978

Closed Date: Feb. 1, 1983

Clearinghouse coding complete

Case Summary

Ohio State Reformatory, the prison in which the movie The Shawshank Redemption was filmed, was closed due to a consent decree that was entered in this case.On August 21, 1978, four individuals incarcerated at the Ohio State Reformatory filed a class action complaint in the Northern District of Ohio against the Director of the Ohio Department of Corrections and the Superintendent of the Ohio State Reformatory. Suing under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, the plaintiffs alleged that the defendants violated thei…

Ohio State Reformatory, the prison in which the movie The Shawshank Redemption was filmed, was closed due to a consent decree that was entered in this case.

On August 21, 1978, four individuals incarcerated at the Ohio State Reformatory filed a class action complaint in the Northern District of Ohio against the Director of the Ohio Department of Corrections and the Superintendent of the Ohio State Reformatory. Suing under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, the plaintiffs alleged that the defendants violated their Eighth and Fourteenth Amendment rights, as well as rights granted under the Ohio Constitution and state law. The plaintiffs alleged that the facility was consistently overcrowded—at the time the complaint was filed, around 2,140 people were incarcerated at the facility, despite being designed for only 1,200. They also alleged that the facility, built in the late 1800s, had physically deteriorated to unconstitutional conditions. These conditions included antiquated plumbing that frequently leaked and flooded; inadequate showering, heating, and cooling; infestation of roaches and rats; and a litany of other unsanitary and unsuitable conditions of everyday life. The plaintiffs also alleged that the defendants racially segregated prisoners.

The four plaintiffs sought to represent a class of all other people are were or would be incarcerated at the Ohio State Reformatory. They also sought declaratory and injunctive relief in addition to attorneys' fees. First, they asked the court to issue a preliminary injunction reducing the prison's population to the designed capacity of 1,200 people. Second, they asked for a permanent injunction barring the use of the Ohio State Reformatory until it was made constitutionally adequate. Alternatively, the plaintiffs sought a permanent injunction prohibiting the defendants from racially discriminating against people held in the facility.

On September 4, 1979, the court certified the class. It was later clarified in an order issued on July 1, 1982, as consisting of "all inmates who are or who will in the future be imprisoned at Ohio State Reformatory."

Chief Judge Frank Battisti approved a lengthy consent decree on February 1, 1983, that permanently enjoined the defendants from operating the Ohio State Reformatory as of December 31, 1987. The order effectively closed the facility. However, two new facilities were being built at the time the order was issued—North East Ohio Reformatory and the Dayton Reformatory. While these two facilities were being constructed, Chief Judge Battisti offered to give the defendants six-month extensions to continue operating the Ohio State Reformatory so long as the defendants operated in good faith in building the new facilities and improving the conditions as much as possible in the old facility in the meantime.

In the same order, Chief Judge Battisti also enjoined the defendants from assigning prisoners to cells or jobs based on race. The order included many other provisions, such as enjoining the defendants from overcrowding prisoners in cells, mandating that prisoners not in solitary confinement be given at least forty hours recreation outside of their cells, and requiring prisoners to have greater visitation privileges. Chief Judge Battisti ordered the defendants to create plans in order to comply with these requirements.

The Ohio State Reformatory continued to operate under the terms of the consent decree until it ultimately closed in 1990.

Summary Authors

Justin Hill (7/28/2021)

Related Cases

Register v. Denton, Northern District of Ohio (1975)

People


Judge(s)

Battisti, Frank Joseph (Ohio)

Attorneys(s) for Plaintiff

Beggs, Gordon G. (Ohio)

Lackey, Gerald B. (Ohio)

Schwartz, Niki Z. (Ohio)

Zemmelman, Norman G (Ohio)

Attorneys(s) for Defendant

Dietz, Jacqueline F. (Minnesota)

Jamra, Jamille G (Ohio)

Janata, Rudolph (Ohio)

Rosenberg, Thomas L. (Ohio)

Sipe, Dennis Lyle (Ohio)

Judge(s)

Battisti, Frank Joseph (Ohio)

Attorneys(s) for Plaintiff

Beggs, Gordon G. (Ohio)

Lackey, Gerald B. (Ohio)

Schwartz, Niki Z. (Ohio)

Zemmelman, Norman G (Ohio)

Attorneys(s) for Defendant

Dietz, Jacqueline F. (Minnesota)

Jamra, Jamille G (Ohio)

Janata, Rudolph (Ohio)

Rosenberg, Thomas L. (Ohio)

Sipe, Dennis Lyle (Ohio)

Walters, Sally Ann (Ohio)

Young, Thomas A (Ohio)

Documents in the Clearinghouse

Document

0:78-01054

0:78-00385

[Docket]

Jan. 2, 1979

Jan. 2, 1979

Docket

1:78-01679

0:78-01054

0:78-00385

Complaint

Aug. 21, 1978

Aug. 21, 1978

Complaint

1:78-01679

Consent Decree

Feb. 1, 1983

Feb. 1, 1983

Order/Opinion

86-11146

Amended Third Party Complaint for Declaratory Judgment, Preliminary Injunction and Permanent Injunction

Taylor v. Department of Rehabilitation and Correction v. City of Cleveland

Ohio state trial court

Dec. 23, 1986

Dec. 23, 1986

Complaint

Docket

Last updated Nov. 28, 2022, 3:04 a.m.

Docket sheet not available via the Clearinghouse.

Case Details

State / Territory: Ohio

Case Type(s):

Prison Conditions

Key Dates

Filing Date: Dec. 12, 1978

Closing Date: Feb. 1, 1983

Case Ongoing: No

Plaintiffs

Plaintiff Description:

All individuals who were, or would be, incarcerated at the Ohio State Reformatory.

Plaintiff Type(s):

Private Plaintiff

Public Interest Lawyer: No

Filed Pro Se: No

Class Action Sought: Yes

Class Action Outcome: Granted

Defendants

Director, State

Superintendent, State

Defendant Type(s):

Corrections

Case Details

Causes of Action:

42 U.S.C. § 1983

Constitutional Clause(s):

Due Process

Equal Protection

Cruel and Unusual Punishment

Availably Documents:

Trial Court Docket

Complaint (any)

Injunctive (or Injunctive-like) Relief

Outcome

Prevailing Party: Plaintiff

Nature of Relief:

Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement

Declaratory Judgment

Source of Relief:

Settlement

Form of Settlement:

Court Approved Settlement or Consent Decree

Content of Injunction:

Discrimination Prohibition

Develop anti-discrimination policy

Monitor/Master

Monitoring

Goals (e.g., for hiring, admissions)

Preliminary relief request withdrawn/mooted

Issues

General:

Bathing and hygiene

Classification / placement

Conditions of confinement

Fire safety

Food service / nutrition / hydration

Racial segregation

Recreation / Exercise

Sanitation / living conditions

Totality of conditions

Visiting

Work release or work assignments

Crowding:

Crowding / caseload

Discrimination-basis:

Race discrimination

Race:

Black

Type of Facility:

Government-run