Case: Kendrick v. Bland

5:76-00079 | U.S. District Court for the Western District of Kentucky

Filed Date: Sept. 8, 1976

Closed Date: June 25, 1993

Clearinghouse coding complete

Case Summary

In September 1976, inmates at Kentucky State Penitentiary (KSP), joined in 1979 by inmates at Kentucky State Reformatory (KSR), filed a class action lawsuit under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against prison officials in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Kentucky, Paducah Division. The plaintiffs, who at first filed pro se, were later represented by the Southern Prisoners Defense Committee and assisted by the U.S. Department of Justice as amicus curiae. They sought declaratory and injunct…

In September 1976, inmates at Kentucky State Penitentiary (KSP), joined in 1979 by inmates at Kentucky State Reformatory (KSR), filed a class action lawsuit under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against prison officials in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Kentucky, Paducah Division. The plaintiffs, who at first filed pro se, were later represented by the Southern Prisoners Defense Committee and assisted by the U.S. Department of Justice as amicus curiae. They sought declaratory and injunctive relief, including the firing of several Captains, alleging that the conditions of confinement constituted cruel and unusual punishment violative of the Eighth Amendment, as well as deprivations of due process violative of the Fourteenth Amendment. A class was certified in October 1978, and was subsequently consolidated with a class action on behalf of all inmates at Kentucky State Reformatory (KSR).

On March 21, 1980, the District Court (Judge Edward H. Johnstone) issued a preliminary injunction prohibiting the use of unnecessary physical force, mace, or restraints on any inmate.

On May 28, 1980, the District Court (Judge Johnstone) approved a consent decree regarding a broad range of prison conditions. The consent decree provided for (a) a reduction in the prison population at KSP and regulations in the construction of housing, (b) classification, (c) programs, (d) food service, (e) due process, (f) segregation, (g) access to the courts, (h) inmate mail, and (i) recreation and exercise. The decree contained no expiration date and provided that "the Court shall retain jurisdiction in this case until the plan submitted to the Court is fully implemented."

On July 22, 1980, the Judge Johnstone entered a supplemental partial consent decree that made permanent the preliminary injunction.

Following a trial from July 21-25, 1980, on the issue of guard harassment (an issue excluded from the consent decree), on October 22, 1980, the District Court (Judge Johnstone) found that the plaintiffs had demonstrated an unacceptable pattern of harassment. On November 12, 1981, the District Court (Judge Johnstone), declared that "just as the Consent Decree requires renovation of the bricks and mortar of the prison, so too must the attitudes of prisoners and corrections personnel be renovated to ensure progress that will satisfy the mandate of the Constitution." Kendrick v. Bland, 541 F. Supp. 21 (W.D. Ky. 1981). Judge Johnstone held that the use of an informant system was destructive of penological goals, that the operation of a special needs unit, where wholly untrained guards were assigned to inmates with severe mental impairment, resulted in cruel and unusual punishment, and directed the plaintiffs and defendants to submit proposals for regulation of the use of informants, adequate staffing and placement of inmates in the special needs unit. Both an appeal and cross-appeal were taken.

On July 27, 1984, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals (Judge Robert Krupansky) reversed in part and remanded. Kendrick v. Bland, 740 F.2d 432 (6th Cir. 1984). The Court held that the District Court's remedy of enjoining the officials from performing certain activities was not the least intrusive remedy available and therefore exceeded its authority.

On May 29, 1984, the District Court (Judge Johnstone) found the defendants in partial violation of the consent decree. Kendrick v. Bland, 586 F. Supp. 1536 (W.D. Ky. 1984). Judge Johnstone held that the law libraries were not sufficient to provide all inmates with meaningful access to the courts, but that the denial of unlimited free access to photocopier and other legal supplies and services did not necessarily deny prisoners access to the courts. Judge Johnstone ordered the defendants to purchase and maintain a law library collection, designate a KSP staff member to supervise the collection and legal aides, hire not less than 10 legal aides at KSP, and make the consent decree available to inmates.

The inmates subsequently brought a contempt motion alleging that denying visitation privileges without a hearing violated the original consent decree. On June 26, 1986, the District Court (Judge Johnstone) held that the visitation policy did not violate the consent decree per se. Thompson v. Bland, 664 F. Supp. 261 (W.D. Ky. 1986). Judge Johnstone held that, under the consent decree, inmates had a protected liberty interest in open visitation, and directed the defendants to develop procedures to ensure inmates received notice of and reasons for revocation and had an opportunity to respond. The Kentucky Department of Corrections appealed.

After a hearing on compliance with the consent decree, on March 11, 1987, the District Court denied the plaintiffs' motion to incorporate the prisons' policies and procedures into the consent decree. The plaintiffs appealed. And on March 13, 1987, the District Court (Judge Johnstone) further held that prison officials were in compliance with the consent decree with one exception, which alone would continue to be monitored. Kendrick v. Bland, 659 F. Supp. 1188 (W.D. Ky. 1987). Judge Johnstone held that the policies and procedures that resulted from the consent decree had resulted in "vast improvements in the two institutions, and the state correctional system as a whole" and that significant improvements had occurred in dormitories and administrative buildings, fire and safety procedures, population numbers, and the conditions of confinement; Judge Johnstone found that the capital construction and renovation projects were not complete and recognized that complete compliance with the consent decree would not occur until 1996. Importantly, Judge Johnstone granted that, in the event of major violations, the parties may apply to the court for reinstatement of the case on its active docket.

On March 31, 1988, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals (Judge Leo Ryan) affirmed the March 11, 1987, decision of the District Court. Thompson v. Bland, No. 87-5385, 1988 WL 27538 (6th Cir. March 31, 1988).

On November 19, 1987, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals (Judge Boyce F. Martin Jr.) affirmed in part the District Court's June 26, 1986, ruling on visitation and remanded. Thompson v. Commonwealth of Kentucky, Dept. of Corrections, 833 F.2d 614 (6th Cir. 1988). The Court held that the procedures adopted to govern visitation at KSR created a liberty interest and remand was necessary to determine what regulations governed prisoners at other institutions within the Kentucky prison system.

On September 1, 1988, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals (per curiam) affirmed the District Court's March 13, 1987, ruling on compliance. Smith v. Bland, No. 87-5460, 1988 WL 90900 (6th Cir. Sept. 1, 1988). The Court "commend[ed] the district court for its long and diligent efforts in regulating this lawsuit" noting that "those have contributed significantly to obvious and substantial improvements in the conditions under which inmates in the Kentucky prison system are housed."

After the plaintiffs' counsel apparently failed to appeal the March 13, 1987, order, on June 27, 1988, the Supreme Court granted the plaintiffs' pro se motion to proceed in forma pauperis and the defendant's petition for writ of certiorari to the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals. Kentucky, Dept. of Corrections v. Thompson, 487 U.S. 1217 (1988).

On May 15, 1989, the Supreme Court (Justice Harry A. Blackmun) reversed the Sixth Circuit's November 19, 1987 decision. Kentucky Dept. of Corrections v. Thompson, 490 U.S. 454 (1989). The Court held that the prison regulations setting forth categories of visitors who might be excluded did not give inmates a liberty interest in receiving visitors. And on August 17, 1989, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals (per curiam) vacated its judgment and remanded to the District Court to proceed consistent with the Supreme Court's ruling. Thompson v. Commonwealth of Kentucky, Dept. of Corrections, 882 F.2d 217 (6th Cir. 1989).

Some litigation followed with respect to appointment of counsel. Kendrick v. Bland, No. 90-5336, 1990 WL 92660 (6th Cir. June 27, 1990).

The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals (per curiam) subsequently agreed on numerous occasions that oral arguments were not needed to review a number of District Court orders. The Court affirmed most orders with respect to contempt, remanding only for clarification of the consent decree, and granted pauper status for one plaintiff against the District Court's order. Kendrick v. Bland, No. 90-5829, 1991 WL 21992 (6th Cir. Feb. 20, 1991); Kendrick v. Bland, 931 F.2d 421 (6th Cir. 1991); Kendrick v. Bland, No. 91-5147, 1991 WL 177930 (6th Cir. Sept. 12, 1991); Hearne v. Bridges, No. 90-5482, 1991 WL 253161 (6th Cir. Nov. 29, 1991).

On February 18, 1992, the district court granted the defendants' motion to end active supervision and "relinquish jurisdiction" over the Consent Decree. The 6th Circuit affirmed. Melson v. Bland, No. 92-5393, 1993 WL 230292 (6th Cir. June 25, 1993).

Summary Authors

Josh Altman (6/11/2006)

People


Judge(s)

Blackmun, Harry Andrew (District of Columbia)

Brennan, William Joseph Jr. (District of Columbia)

Engel, Albert Joseph (Michigan)

Hackett, Barbara Kloka (Ohio)

Jarvis, James Howard II (Tennessee)

Johnstone, Edward Huggins (Kentucky)

Keith, Damon Jerome (Michigan)

Kennedy, Cornelia Groefsema (Michigan)

Krupansky, Robert B. (Ohio)

Lively, Pierce (Kentucky)

Judge(s)

Blackmun, Harry Andrew (District of Columbia)

Brennan, William Joseph Jr. (District of Columbia)

Engel, Albert Joseph (Michigan)

Hackett, Barbara Kloka (Ohio)

Jarvis, James Howard II (Tennessee)

Johnstone, Edward Huggins (Kentucky)

Keith, Damon Jerome (Michigan)

Kennedy, Cornelia Groefsema (Michigan)

Krupansky, Robert B. (Ohio)

Lively, Pierce (Kentucky)

Marshall, Thurgood (District of Columbia)

Martin, Boyce Ficklen Jr. (Kentucky)

Merritt, Gilbert Stroud Jr. (Tennessee)

Milburn, Herbert Theodore (Tennessee)

Miles, Wendell Alverson (Michigan)

Nelson, David Aldrich (Ohio)

Norris, Alan Eugene (Ohio)

O'Connor, Sandra Day (District of Columbia)

Rehnquist, William Hubbs (District of Columbia)

Ryan, James Leo (Michigan)

Scalia, Antonin (District of Columbia)

Stevens, John Paul (District of Columbia)

Suhrheinrich, Richard Fred (Michigan)

Taylor, Anna Katherine Johnston Diggs (Michigan)

Wellford, Harry Walker (Tennessee)

White, Byron Raymond (District of Columbia)

Attorneys(s) for Plaintiff

Banazynski, Thomas J. (Kentucky)

Barber, Oliver H. Jr. (Kentucky)

Burr, Richard H. III (Tennessee)

Elder, Joseph S. II (Kentucky)

Freeman, Christine A. (Georgia)

Lee, Robert A. (Kentucky)

Peters, James Allen (Kentucky)

Walker, Patricia G. (Kentucky)

Attorneys(s) for Defendant

Cooper, Linda G. (Kentucky)

Isaacs, Paul (Kentucky)

Jones, Barbara Willett (Kentucky)

Malone, Connie V. (Kentucky)

Master, Barry L. (Kentucky)

Payne, Gary D. (Kentucky)

Sexton, David A. (Kentucky)

Vose, Leslie Patterson (Kentucky)

Willett, Barbara (Kentucky)

Other Attorney(s)

Aiyetoro, Adjoa A. (District of Columbia)

Burrow, Adjoa A. (District of Columbia)

Dale, Mitchell W. (District of Columbia)

Fleetwood, Martha A. (District of Columbia)

Moore, Shawn F. (District of Columbia)

Ovey, Glycon L. Jr. (Kentucky)

Documents in the Clearinghouse

Document

Memorandum Opinion, Findings of Fact, Conclusions of Law and Judgment (INCLUDES CONSENT DECREE)

541 F.Supp. 21, 1981 U.S.Dist.LEXIS 17672

Nov. 12, 1981 Order/Opinion

Memorandum Opinion, Findings of Fact, Conclusions of Law and Judgment

586 F.Supp. 1536, 1984 U.S.Dist.LEXIS 16327

May 29, 1984 Order/Opinion

Reported Opinion

U. S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit

740 F.2d 432, 1984 U.S.App.LEXIS 20099

July 27, 1984 Order/Opinion

Reported Opinion

Thompson v. Bland

664 F.Supp. 261, 1986 U.S.Dist.LEXIS 23616

June 26, 1986 Order/Opinion

Memorandum Opinion Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law

659 F.Supp. 1188, 1987 U.S.Dist.LEXIS 4365

March 13, 1987 Order/Opinion

Reported Opinion

Thompson v. Kentucky DOC

U. S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit

833 F.2d 614, 1987 U.S.App.LEXIS 15233

Nov. 19, 1987 Order/Opinion

Unpublished Opinion

Thompson v. Bland

U. S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit

843 F.2d 1392, 1988 WL 27538

March 31, 1988 Order/Opinion

Opinion

Kentucky, Department of Corrections v. Thompson

Supreme Court of the United States

487 U.S. 1217, 108 S.Ct. 2869, 101 L.Ed.2d 905

June 27, 1988 Order/Opinion

Unpublished Opinion

Smith v. Bland

U. S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit

856 F.2d 196, 1988 WL 90900

Sept. 1, 1988 Order/Opinion

Reported Opinion

Kentucky DOC v. Thompson

Supreme Court of the United States

490 U.S. 454, 109 S.Ct. 1904, 104 L.Ed.2d 506

May 15, 1989 Order/Opinion

Resources

Title Description External URL

The Oyez Project, Kentucky Dept of Corrections v Thompson, 490 U.S. 454 (1989)

Oyez Project

Information about the Suupreme Court litigation, including an audio recording of the oral argument, and the written opinion. May 15, 1989 http://www.oyez.org/...

Voices from a Southern Prison

Lloyd C. Anderson

Anderson chronicles the 20-year legal struggle by inmates in the Kentucky prison system to correct intolerable prison conditions and mistreatment by prison guards. His book is based on interviews wit… Jan. 1, 2000 None

Docket

Last updated May 12, 2022, 8 p.m.

Docket sheet not available via the Clearinghouse.

State / Territory: Kentucky

Case Type(s):

Prison Conditions

Key Dates

Filing Date: Sept. 8, 1976

Closing Date: June 25, 1993

Case Ongoing: No

Plaintiffs

Plaintiff Description:

Inmates at Kentucky State Penitentiary and Kentucky State Reformatory.

Public Interest Lawyer: Yes

Filed Pro Se: Unknown

Class Action Sought: Yes

Class Action Outcome: Granted

Defendants

Kentucky State Reformatory, State

Kentucky State Penitentiary (Eddyville, Kentucky), State

Case Details

Causes of Action:

42 U.S.C. § 1983

Constitutional Clause(s):

Cruel and Unusual Punishment

Due Process

Availably Documents:

Any published opinion

U.S. Supreme Court merits opinion

Outcome

Prevailing Party: Plaintiff

Nature of Relief:

Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement

Preliminary injunction / Temp. restraining order

Source of Relief:

Settlement

Form of Settlement:

Court Approved Settlement or Consent Decree

Order Duration: 1981 - 1993

Content of Injunction:

Preliminary relief granted

Issues

General:

Access to lawyers or judicial system

Classification / placement

Disciplinary procedures

Disciplinary segregation

Food service / nutrition / hydration

Law library access

Mail

Recreation / Exercise

Visiting

Crowding:

Crowding / caseload

Type of Facility:

Government-run