Filed Date: Jan. 25, 1977
Closed Date: 1997
Clearinghouse coding complete
In 1977, prisoners at the Maryland Penitentiary and the Maryland Reception, Diagnostic and Classification Center, represented by the Prisoner Assistance Project, filed a Section 1983 class action suit in federal district court for the District of Maryland against the officials for the Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services. The suit alleged that the prison was overcrowded and that defendants' confined mentally ill inmates in isolation without adequate medical assistance.
In 1978, the District Court (Judge C. Stanley Blair) held that double-celling and the confinement of mentally ill inmates in an isolated confinement section without adequate medical assistance constituted cruel and unusual punishment and ordered that the parties attempt to agree upon a plan to remedy the constitutional deficiencies. Nelson v. Collins, 455 F. Supp. 727 (D. Md. 1978). Defendants appealed and the Court of Appeals, having consolidated this case with Johnson v. Levine (see PC-MD-003), affirmed the lower court judgments, but remanded with instructions to incorporate defendants' new plan for decreasing overcrowding into a new decree. Johnson v. Levine, 588 F.2d 1378 (4th Cir. 1978). In the new decree, defendants were required to eliminate double-celling and limit the capacity of the Maryland House of Corrections.
Defendants were unable to meet the requirements of the new decree due to a large influx of prisoners, resulting in a finding by the District Court that they were in contempt. Defendants appealed. The Court of Appeals consolidated the Johnson and Nelson cases with a third case, Washington v. Keller. The Court of Appeals reversed, finding that defendants had made a ""good faith"" effort and were entitled to a modification of the decree. Nelson v. Collins, 659 F.2d 420 (4th Cir. 1981). In November 1985, the parties entered into a stipulation requiring defendants to limit the capacity and amount of double celling at the Maryland Penitentiary. In response to the construction of a new prison facility litigation renewed in 1995.
In 1997, the District Court (Judge William M. Nickerson) held that the Prison Litigation Reform Act was constitutional and required the immediate termination of the consent decrees and stipulations that had previously been approved by the court. The docket for this case is not available on PACER, and therefore our information ends with the last reported decision in 1997.
Note: this case was consolidated with Johnson v. Levine (PC-MD-003) by the fourth circuit Court of Appeals in 1978. Johnson v. Levine, 588 F.2d 1378 (4th Cir. 1978).
Eoghan Keenan (5/27/2005)
Blair, Charles Stanley (Maryland)
Bekman, Paul D. (Maryland)
Boteler, Sandra D. (Maryland)
Brown, Warren A. (Maryland)
Burch, Francis B. (Maryland)
Blair, Charles Stanley (Maryland)
Butzner, John Decker Jr. (Virginia)
Ervin, Samuel James III (North Carolina)
Hall, Willard (Virginia)
Haynsworth, Clement Furman Jr. (South Carolina)
Murnaghan, Francis Dominic Jr. (Maryland)
Phillips, James Dickson Jr. (North Carolina)
Russell, Donald Stuart (South Carolina)
Sprouse, James Marshall (West Virginia)
Widener, Hiram Emory Jr. (Virginia)
Winter, Harrison Lee (Maryland)
Last updated July 9, 2023, 3:05 a.m.Docket sheet not available via the Clearinghouse.
State / Territory: Maryland
Filing Date: Jan. 25, 1977
Closing Date: 1997
Case Ongoing: No
prisoners at the Maryland Penitentiary and the Maryland Reception, Diagnostic and Classification Center
Public Interest Lawyer: Yes
Filed Pro Se: Yes
Class Action Sought: Yes
Class Action Outcome: Granted
Causes of Action:
Prevailing Party: Plaintiff
Nature of Relief:
Source of Relief:
Form of Settlement:
Order Duration: 1978 - 1997
Affected Sex or Gender:
Type of Facility: