Case: U.S. v. Alabama

2:87-00014 | U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Alabama

Filed Date: Jan. 6, 1987

Closed Date: Sept. 14, 1987

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Case Summary

This case was the first of three (as of 2015) investigations brought under the Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act (CRIPA), 42 U.S.C. § 1997, against the state of Alabama, relating to conditions of confinement at the Julia Tuwiler Prison for Women, in Wetumpka, Alabama. We do not have any documents from this case, except for the Attorney General's required reports to Congress about the implementation of CRIPA. The matter is discussed in each such report from 1984 to 1987--so they ar…

This case was the first of three (as of 2015) investigations brought under the Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act (CRIPA), 42 U.S.C. § 1997, against the state of Alabama, relating to conditions of confinement at the Julia Tuwiler Prison for Women, in Wetumpka, Alabama. We do not have any documents from this case, except for the Attorney General's required reports to Congress about the implementation of CRIPA. The matter is discussed in each such report from 1984 to 1987--so they are included in this case record. All information in this summary is from those reports. (We separately obtained the docket number of the case from the DOJ.) The next CRIPA matter involving Tutwiler was a more general conditions of confinement investigation conducted in 1994 and 1995 and finally closed in 2002; it is available at PC-AL-0006 in this Clearinghouse. And the third one, a lawsuit dealing with sexual abuse of prisoners available at PC-AL-0034, was simultaneously filed in U.S. District Court and settled in 2015.

On July 3, 1984, the U.S. Department of Justice Civil Rights Division notified Governor George Wallace of its intention to investigate Julia Tutwiler Prison for Women, Wetumpka, Alabama. The investigation was "to determine whether there exist any violations of the federal constitutional rights of women incarcerated therein to equal protection under the law particularly with respect to vocational and educational training programs. This is the first investigation of its kind launched under the Act."

In 1985, expert consultants inspected the facility and reported on their findings and recommendations. On March 24, 1986, DOJ notified Governor Wallace that in DOJ's view, significant constitutional violations existed at the facility with respect to equal protection under the law relating to vocational and educational training programs.

On January 6, 1987, DOJ filed this lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Alabama. The Complaint alleged the denial of equal protection for Tutwiler's inmates. Specifically, it alleged that Alabama failed to provide female prisoners with vocational and educational programs substantially equivalent to those offered male inmates in other State correctional institutions.

The District Court stayed the action on May 4, 1987, however, pending the resolution of a private lawsuit, Nichols v. Smith. The parties in the Nichols action filed a settlement agreement on August 27, 1987, addressing the same claims raised by the DOJ lawsuit. Therefore, on September 10, 1987, DOJ filed a Motion to Dismiss this case, without prejudice to reinstate. That motion was granted four days later, by Judge Robert Varner.

The DOJ opened two subsequent investigations into Tutwiler, as well. There was one in the 1990s, available as PC-AL-0006 in this Clearinghouse; it led to findings, but not formal agreement. In addition, there was a case with a consent decree in 2015 dealing with sexual abuse of prisoners. It is available as PC-AL-0034 in this Clearinghouse.

Summary Authors

Clearinghouse (5/30/2015)

Related Cases

Nichols v. Hopper, Middle District of Alabama (1986)

Documents in the Clearinghouse

Docket

Last updated Sept. 4, 2022, 3:05 a.m.

Docket sheet not available via the Clearinghouse.

Case Details

State / Territory: Alabama

Case Type(s):

Prison Conditions

Key Dates

Filing Date: Jan. 6, 1987

Closing Date: Sept. 14, 1987

Case Ongoing: No reason to think so

Plaintiffs

Plaintiff Description:

United States Department of Justice

Plaintiff Type(s):

U.S. Dept of Justice plaintiff

Public Interest Lawyer: Yes

Filed Pro Se: Unknown

Class Action Sought: No

Class Action Outcome: Not sought

Defendants

Alabama Department of Corrections (Wetumpka), State

Case Details

Causes of Action:

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

Availably Documents:

None of the above

Outcome

Prevailing Party: Defendant

Nature of Relief:

None

Source of Relief:

None

Issues

General:

Totality of conditions

Affected Gender:

Female

Type of Facility:

Government-run