Case: CRIPA Investigation of the Topeka Correctional Facility, Topeka, Kansas

No Court Case | No Court

Filed Date: April 7, 2011

Case Ongoing

Clearinghouse coding complete

Case Summary

On April 7, 2011, the U.S. Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division (“DOJ”) notified Kansas that it was opening an investigation into the conditions and practices at the Topeka Correctional Facility (“TCF”), a prison housing about 550 female prisoners. The investigation sought to determine whether prisoners were subjected to sexual abuse or unsafe environmental conditions. It was undertaken under the Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act (“CRIPA”).DOJ lawyers and an expert consulta…

On April 7, 2011, the U.S. Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division (“DOJ”) notified Kansas that it was opening an investigation into the conditions and practices at the Topeka Correctional Facility (“TCF”), a prison housing about 550 female prisoners. The investigation sought to determine whether prisoners were subjected to sexual abuse or unsafe environmental conditions. It was undertaken under the Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act (“CRIPA”).

DOJ lawyers and an expert consultant visited the facility in May 2011. During the visit, they interviewed staff and prisoners. They also reviewed documents including incident, investigative and disciplinary reports; prisoner grievances; unit logs; medical, environmental, health, and safety records; and orientation and training materials.

On September 6, 2012, the DOJ sent its Findings Letter to Governor of Kansas and the Secretary of the Kansas Department of Corrections ("KDOC"), informing him of the results of the investigation. The Letter stated that TCF had failed to protect women prisoners from sexual abuse and harassment by staff and other prisoners. The DOJ did not find environmental conditions to be unsafe or unconstitutional.

Specifically, the DOJ concluded that the KDOC had failed to fix systemic causes of sexual abuse and misconduct despite repeated investigations and audits exposing the problem. The DOJ found that nearly all of women prisoners feared for their safety because (1) prisoners were subjected to sexual assault and unwanted sexual conduct from staff; (2) prisoners were subjected to sexual violence from other prisoners; (3) sexual misconduct was ingrained within facility culture and (4) prison officials were deliberately indifferent to the harm experienced by women at the facility. The Findings Letter included proposed minimal remedial measures.

The parties soon began negotiating a settlement. On December 22, 2014 they released an out-of-court Memorandum of Agreement. The settlement required the state to address sexual abuse within TCF by mandating compliance with the Prison Rape Elimination Act; a zero tolerance policy; a staffing plan and video monitoring procedures; a classification system and risk assessment process to identify potential threats and victims; staff training; and a grievance, investigation, and disciplinary procedures. The parties would agree to a monitor to conduct evaluations once every 180 days. The agreement was to terminate when the KDOC and TCF had achieved and maintained compliance for one year.

In a DOJ spreadsheet describing all CRIPA matters in 2016, the case was listed as open.

Summary Authors

Gabriela Hybel (5/16/2017)


Attorneys(s) for Plaintiff

Abbate, Julie K. (District of Columbia)

Grissom, Barry (Kansas)

Gupta, Vanita (District of Columbia)

Holder, Eric H. Jr. (District of Columbia)

Kappelhoff, Mark (District of Columbia)

Maddox, William G. (District of Columbia)

Perez, Thomas E. (District of Columbia)

Smith, Jonathan Mark (District of Columbia)

Attorneys(s) for Defendant

Appel, Linden (Kansas)

Schlozman, Bradley (District of Columbia)

Attorneys(s) for Plaintiff

Abbate, Julie K. (District of Columbia)

Grissom, Barry (Kansas)

Gupta, Vanita (District of Columbia)

Holder, Eric H. Jr. (District of Columbia)

Kappelhoff, Mark (District of Columbia)

Maddox, William G. (District of Columbia)

Perez, Thomas E. (District of Columbia)

Smith, Jonathan Mark (District of Columbia)

Attorneys(s) for Defendant

Appel, Linden (Kansas)

Schlozman, Bradley (District of Columbia)

Documents in the Clearinghouse

Document

Findings Letter

CRIPA investigation of the Topeka Correctional Facility, Topeka, Kansas

Sept. 6, 2012 Findings Letter/Report

Memorandum of Agreement

CRIPA Investigation of the Topeka Correctional Facility, Topeka Kansas

Dec. 22, 2014 Settlement Agreement

Docket

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

Docket sheet not available via the Clearinghouse.

State / Territory: Kansas

Case Type(s):

Prison Conditions

Special Collection(s):

Post-PLRA Jail and Prison Private Settlement Agreements

Key Dates

Filing Date: April 7, 2011

Case Ongoing: Yes

Plaintiffs

Plaintiff Description:

U.S. Department of Justice, enforcing the rights of inmates at the Topeka Correctional Facility.

Plaintiff Type(s):

U.S. Dept of Justice plaintiff

Attorney Organizations:

U.S. Dept. of Justice Civil Rights Division

Public Interest Lawyer: Yes

Filed Pro Se: No

Class Action Sought: No

Class Action Outcome: Not sought

Defendants

Topeka Correctional Facility (Shawnee), State

Kansas Department of Corrections (Shawnee), State

Defendant Type(s):

Corrections

Case Details

Causes of Action:

Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act (CRIPA), 42 U.S.C. § 1997 et seq.

Constitutional Clause(s):

Cruel and Unusual Punishment

Special Case Type(s):

Out-of-court

Availably Documents:

Injunctive (or Injunctive-like) Relief

None of the above

Outcome

Prevailing Party: Plaintiff

Nature of Relief:

Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement

Source of Relief:

Settlement

Form of Settlement:

Private Settlement Agreement

Order Duration: 2014 - None

Content of Injunction:

Auditing

Hire

Implement complaint/dispute resolution process

Monitoring

Other requirements regarding hiring, promotion, retention

Recordkeeping

Reporting

Training

Issues

General:

Assault/abuse by residents/inmates/students

Assault/abuse by staff

Classification / placement

Failure to discipline

Failure to supervise

Failure to train

Grievance Procedures

Incident/accident reporting & investigations

Prison Rape Elimination Act

Sexual abuse by residents/inmates

Sex w/ staff; sexual harassment by staff

Staff (number, training, qualifications, wages)

Affected Gender:

Female

Type of Facility:

Government-run