Case: Hinkley v. Fair

88-00064 | Massachusetts state trial court

Filed Date: 1988

Clearinghouse coding complete

Case Summary

This case challenged Massachusetts’ policy of civilly committing women suffering from alcoholism in a state prison. In addition to being a significant violation of the committed women’s civil liberties, this practice did not mirror how men facing similar challenges were treated. The plaintiffs, two women who were civilly committed by the Commonwealth in the late 1980s, filed this class action lawsuit in Hampshire County Superior Court in 1988. They were represented by attorneys from the Center …

This case challenged Massachusetts’ policy of civilly committing women suffering from alcoholism in a state prison. In addition to being a significant violation of the committed women’s civil liberties, this practice did not mirror how men facing similar challenges were treated. The plaintiffs, two women who were civilly committed by the Commonwealth in the late 1980s, filed this class action lawsuit in Hampshire County Superior Court in 1988. They were represented by attorneys from the Center for Public Representation.

On November 30, 1990, the plaintiffs reached a settlement with the Commonwealth. In it, Massachusetts agreed to expand its network of community based substances abuse treatment centers for women, allow women civilly committed in connection with alcoholism to leave if they did not consent to treatment, not incarcerate women whose substance abuse issues could be treated in a community setting, and release civilly people, both men and women, early if their release would not result in a likelihood of harm. The Commonwealth also agreed to provide the plaintiffs with at least four quarterly reports on their compliance with the settlements terms and allowed the plaintiffs ask the court for an injunction to enforce its terms. According to the Center for Public Representation’s website, the Commonwealth also agreed to pay $120,000 in attorneys’ fees and monetary damages.

Because of the age of the case, the Clearinghouse does not have information about how long the monitoring portion remained in effect, but the case is presumably closed.

Summary Authors

Jonah Hudson-Erdman (11/24/2021)


Attorneys(s) for Plaintiff

Costanzo, Cathy E. (Massachusetts)

Reinstein, John (Massachusetts)

Schwartz, Steven J. (Massachusetts)

Wilkins, Douglas H. (Massachusetts)

Attorneys(s) for Plaintiff

Costanzo, Cathy E. (Massachusetts)

Reinstein, John (Massachusetts)

Schwartz, Steven J. (Massachusetts)

Wilkins, Douglas H. (Massachusetts)

Documents in the Clearinghouse

Document

Settlement Agreement

Nov. 30, 1990 Settlement Agreement

Resources

Title Description External URL

Amicus Briefs, Damage and Civil Rights Cases

Center for Public Representation

Civil rights damage action challenging the commitment and confinement of a woman with alcohol addiction to state prison settled for $120,000 including attorney’s fees. Commonwealth of Massachusetts a… Jan. 1, 2019 https://www.centerforpublicrep.org/amicus-briefs-and-other-cases/

Docket

Last updated May 11, 2022, 8 p.m.

Docket sheet not available via the Clearinghouse.

State / Territory: Massachusetts

Case Type(s):

Criminal Justice (Other)

Key Dates

Filing Date: 1988

Case Ongoing: No

Plaintiffs

Plaintiff Description:

Women civilly committed and detained in a Massachusetts state prison because of their alcoholism.

Plaintiff Type(s):

Private Plaintiff

Public Interest Lawyer: Yes

Filed Pro Se: No

Class Action Sought: Yes

Class Action Outcome: Unknown

Defendants

Commonwealth of Massachusetts (Boston , Suffolk), State

Case Details

Causes of Action:

State law

Availably Documents:

Injunctive (or Injunctive-like) Relief

Outcome

Prevailing Party: Plaintiff

Nature of Relief:

Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement

Damages

Source of Relief:

Settlement

Form of Settlement:

Court Approved Settlement or Consent Decree

Amount Defendant Pays: 120000

Order Duration: 1990 - 1991

Content of Injunction:

Monitoring

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

Issues

General:

Commitment procedure

Counseling

Discharge & termination plans

Informed consent/involuntary medication

Over/Unlawful Detention

Placement in detention facilities

Placement in mental health facilities

Rehabilitation

Affected Gender:

Female