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Case: Harris v. City of Philadelphia

2:82-cv-01847 | U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania

Filed Date: April 27, 1982

Closed Date: Aug. 30, 2000

Clearinghouse coding complete

Case Summary

This case, Harris v. City of Philadelphia, started 30 years of federal court litigation over the Philadelphia Prison System [PPS]. A similar state court action was initiated in 1971. See Jackson v. Hendricks, 764 A.2d 1139, 1141 (Pa.Commw.Ct. 2001) [JC-PA-10 of this collection].In 1982, inmates at Holmesburg Prison filed a pro se class action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District Of Pennsylvania alleging overcrowded conditions in the PPS in violation…

This case, Harris v. City of Philadelphia, started 30 years of federal court litigation over the Philadelphia Prison System [PPS]. A similar state court action was initiated in 1971. See Jackson v. Hendricks, 764 A.2d 1139, 1141 (Pa.Commw.Ct. 2001) [JC-PA-10 of this collection].

In 1982, inmates at Holmesburg Prison filed a pro se class action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District Of Pennsylvania alleging overcrowded conditions in the PPS in violation of their constitutional rights. The City moved to dismiss on res judicata grounds because of the state law litigation in Jackson v. Hendricks. [JC-PA-10]. The District Court granted defendant's motion and dismissed the case. The Court of Appeals reversed. Harris v. Pernsley, 755 F.2d 338 (3rd Cir. 1984). Following remand, a second amended complaint was filed which refined the plaintiff class to include all past, present, and future PPS inmates. The parties then proceeded with settlement discussions.

The District Court (Judge Norma L. Shapiro) approved a Consent Decree on December 30, 1986 (1986 Consent Decree). As part of the 1986 Decree, the City agreed to construct a downtown detention center by December 31, 1990 so as to alleviate overcrowding. The Decree provided population caps and a mechanism whereby certain non-violent offenders would be released to control inmate levels. It also provided for a "qualified admissions moratorium" which would be triggered if population levels exceeded the maximum allowable population. See Harris v. Pernsley, 654 F.Supp. 1042 (E.D.Pa. 1987).

On November 13, 1987, the District Court appointed a Special Master to assist in monitoring compliance with the Consent Decree.

By order of July 29, 1988 the City was directed to implement a house arrest/electronic monitoring program for selected inmates. The parties continued to struggle with overcrowding problems over the next several years.

On March 11, 1991, the District Court (Judge Norma L. Shapiro) approved a stipulation and settlement ("1991 Consent Decree") of the parties which revised and replaced in part certain provisions of the 1986 Decree. Harris v. Reeves, 761 F.Supp. 382 (E.D.Pa. 1991). Following entry of the 1991 Decree, numerous plans as required by the 1991 Consent Decree were submitted to the District Court for approval. Those included:

* Classification Plan (approved 10/27/92)

* Population Projections Plan (11/23/92)

* Operational Standards (12/9/92)

* Alternatives to Incarceration Plan (12/19/94)

* Physical Standards (7/11/95)

* Capital Projects Management Plan (6/2/97)

* Ten Year Plan (1/24/96)

* Training Plan (3/16/98)

Additionally, over 250 policies and procedures governing all aspects of PPS operation were implemented from 1994 to 1999.

On July 23, 1999 the plaintiffs filed a petition for contempt, alleging eight violations of the Consent Decrees and related orders. The District Court held hearings on plaintiffs' petition on October 7 and 8 (at PPS), 1999, November 12, 1999 and November 29, 1999. The District Court withheld ruling at the request of the parties so that settlement negotiations could continue. The parties the arrived at a proposed settlement agreement which would end the litigation and terminate the court's jurisdiction.

On July 27, 2000 the District Court held a fairness hearing and provisionally approved the settlement. Formal settlement approval came on August 30, 2000 and the District Court issued an order dismissing the case without prejudice. Harris v. Philadelphia, 2000 WL 1239948 (E.D.Pa. Aug. 30, 2000).

The appellate history of Harris is fairly complicated and is as follows: Harris v. Pernsley, 755 F.2d 338 (3d Cir.1985)[Harris I ], reheard en banc den., 758 F.2d 83 (1985); Harris v. Pennsylvania, 820 F.2d 592 (3d Cir.1987)[Harris II ]; reh en banc den., 1987; Harris v. Reeves, 946 F.2d 214 (3d Cir.1991)[Harris III ]; reh en banc den.1991; Harris v. Philadelphia, 35 F.3d 840 (3d Cir.1994)[Harris IV ]; Harris v. Philadelphia, 47 F.3d 1311 (3d Cir.1995)[Harris V ]; Harris v. Philadelphia, 47 F.3d 1333 (3d Cir.1995)[Harris VI ]; Harris v. Philadelphia, 47 F .3d 1342 (3d Cir.1995)[Harris VII ]; and Harris v. Philadelphia, 137 F.3d 209 (3d Cir.1998)[Harris VIII ].

Note that six years following the final settlement of Harris, another inmate lawsuit was initiated against the PPS. See Bowers v. City of Philadelphia, 2:06-cv-03229-RBS (E.D.Pa.) [JC-PA-20].

Summary Authors

Dan Dalton (2/14/2007)

Related Cases

Bowers v. City of Philadelphia, Eastern District of Pennsylvania (2006)

Jackson v. Hendrick, Pennsylvania state trial court (1971)

People


Judge(s)

Aldisert, Ruggero John (California)

Alito, Samuel A. Jr. (New Jersey)

Burger, Warren Earl (District of Columbia)

Cowen, Arnold Wilson (District of Columbia)

Garth, Leonard I. (New Jersey)

Gibbons, John Joseph (Pennsylvania)

Greenberg, Morton Ira (New Jersey)

Mansmann, Carol Los (Pennsylvania)

Seitz, Collins Jacques (Delaware)

Shapiro, Norma Levy (Pennsylvania)

Judge(s)

Aldisert, Ruggero John (California)

Alito, Samuel A. Jr. (New Jersey)

Burger, Warren Earl (District of Columbia)

Cowen, Arnold Wilson (District of Columbia)

Garth, Leonard I. (New Jersey)

Gibbons, John Joseph (Pennsylvania)

Greenberg, Morton Ira (New Jersey)

Mansmann, Carol Los (Pennsylvania)

Seitz, Collins Jacques (Delaware)

Shapiro, Norma Levy (Pennsylvania)

Sloviter, Dolores Korman (Pennsylvania)

Stapleton, Walter King (Delaware)

Teitelbaum, Hubert Irving (Pennsylvania)

Attorneys(s) for Plaintiff

Angell, Samuel J.B. (Pennsylvania)

Bernstein, Richard M. (Pennsylvania)

Hino, Michael S. (Pennsylvania)

Hughues, Mary P. (Pennsylvania)

Kling, Neill C. (Pennsylvania)

Lebowitz, Philip H. (Pennsylvania)

Richman, David (Pennsylvania)

Ricks, Sarah E. (Pennsylvania)

Attorneys(s) for Defendant

Aronchick, Mark A. (Pennsylvania)

Barthold, Gaele McLaughlin (Pennsylvania)

Gold, Richard J. (Pennsylvania)

Hubert, Randy Karafin (Pennsylvania)

Jordan, James B. (Pennsylvania)

Krill, John P. Jr. (Pennsylvania)

Leisch, Doris M. (Pennsylvania)

Lillie, Charisse R. (Pennsylvania)

Minyard, Handsel B. (Pennsylvania)

Morris, John W. (Pennsylvania)

Potts, Barbara (Pennsylvania)

Robinson, Rosalyn K. (Pennsylvania)

Rosen, Gary A. (Pennsylvania)

Saull, Ellis M. (Pennsylvania)

Sellitto, August V. (Pennsylvania)

Vaccaro, Carl (Pennsylvania)

Vandenbraak, Sarah B. (Pennsylvania)

Vilim, Guy (Pennsylvania)

Wamser, Thomas J. (Pennsylvania)

Wolfsohn, David J. (Pennsylvania)

Zimmerman, LeRoy S. (Pennsylvania)

Other Attorney(s)

Brumberg, Harriet R. (Pennsylvania)

Eisenberg, Ronald (Pennsylvania)

Kohn, Joseph C. (Pennsylvania)

Magid, Laurie (Pennsylvania)

Expert/Monitor/Master

Castille, Ron (Pennsylvania)

Documents in the Clearinghouse

Document

84-01039

Opinion of the Court

Harris v. Pernsley

U. S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit

Feb. 22, 1985

Feb. 22, 1985

Order/Opinion

84-01039

Denial of Sur-petitions for Rehearing

Harris v. Pernsley

U. S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit

March 21, 1985

March 21, 1985

Order/Opinion

84-01955

Decision on Petition for Writ of Certiorari

Pernsley v. Harris

Supreme Court of the United States

Nov. 4, 1985

Nov. 4, 1985

Order/Opinion

2:82-cv-01847

Order

Harris v. Pernsley

Dec. 30, 1986

Dec. 30, 1986

Order/Opinion

2:82-cv-01847

Memorandum and Order

Harris v. Pernsley

Jan. 5, 1987

Jan. 5, 1987

Order/Opinion

2:82-cv-01847

Memorandum

Harris v. Pernsley

Feb. 19, 1987

Feb. 19, 1987

Order/Opinion

2:82-cv-01847

Memorandum and Order

Harris v. Pernsley

Feb. 19, 1987

Feb. 19, 1987

Order/Opinion

87-01025

Opinion of the Court

Harris v. Pernsley

U. S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit

May 15, 1987

May 15, 1987

Order/Opinion

2:82-cv-01847

Memorandum and Order

Harris v. Pernsley

Feb. 27, 1989

Feb. 27, 1989

Order/Opinion

2:82-cv-01847

Memorandum and Order

Harris v. Reeves

Sept. 4, 1990

Sept. 4, 1990

Order/Opinion

Docket

Last updated Dec. 8, 2022, 3:14 a.m.

ECF Number Description Date Link Date / Link
1

Complaint. (NO IFP FILED - NO FEE PAID) (tj) (Entered: 07/21/1998)

July 21, 1998

July 21, 1998

Standard Case Management Track. (tj) (Entered: 07/21/1998)

July 21, 1998

July 21, 1998

2

ORDER THAT THE CLERK IS DIRECTED TO STRIKE THIS CIVIL ACTION, ETC. ( SIGNED BY JUDGE NORMA L. SHAPIRO ) 7/29/98 ENTERED AND COPIES MAILED. (lvj) (Entered: 07/29/1998)

July 29, 1998

July 29, 1998

Case closed (jmp) (Entered: 07/31/1998)

July 29, 1998

July 29, 1998

3

Notice of change of address by MARTIN HARRIS (new DOC name & number) (lvj) (Entered: 08/03/1998)

Aug. 3, 1998

Aug. 3, 1998

Case Details

State / Territory: Pennsylvania

Case Type(s):

Jail Conditions

Key Dates

Filing Date: April 27, 1982

Closing Date: Aug. 30, 2000

Case Ongoing: No

Plaintiffs

Plaintiff Description:

The certified class consists of all past, present, and future inmates of the Philadelphia Prison System.

Plaintiff Type(s):

Private Plaintiff

Public Interest Lawyer: Unknown

Filed Pro Se: Yes

Class Action Sought: Yes

Class Action Outcome: Granted

Defendants

Philadelphia Prison System (Philadelphia), City

Case Details

Causes of Action:

42 U.S.C. § 1983

Constitutional Clause(s):

Due Process

Due Process: Substantive Due Process

Cruel and Unusual Punishment

Availably Documents:

Trial Court Docket

Injunctive (or Injunctive-like) Relief

Any published opinion

Outcome

Prevailing Party: Plaintiff

Nature of Relief:

Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement

Source of Relief:

Settlement

Form of Settlement:

Court Approved Settlement or Consent Decree

Order Duration: 1986 - 2000

Issues

General:

Totality of conditions

Crowding:

Crowding / caseload

Pre-PLRA Population Cap

Type of Facility:

Government-run