Case: United States v. Michigan

2:97-cv-71514 | U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan

Filed Date: March 10, 1997

Closed Date: 2007

Clearinghouse coding complete

Case Summary

On May 27, 1994, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) initiated an investigation into the conditions of confinement at the Crane Correctional Facility in Coldwater, Michigan and the Scott Correctional Facility in Plymouth, Michigan (medium security prisons for women) pursuant to the Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act (CRIPA), 42 U.S.C. § 1997. The state refused to allow the DOJ access to the prisons to conduct an investigation, and declined to negotiate with the DOJ or resolve the a…

On May 27, 1994, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) initiated an investigation into the conditions of confinement at the Crane Correctional Facility in Coldwater, Michigan and the Scott Correctional Facility in Plymouth, Michigan (medium security prisons for women) pursuant to the Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act (CRIPA), 42 U.S.C. § 1997. The state refused to allow the DOJ access to the prisons to conduct an investigation, and declined to negotiate with the DOJ or resolve the allegations.

On March 27, 1995, the DOJ issued a findings letter regarding the results of the CRIPA investigation, which was conducted solely through prisoner interviews during visiting hours, as the DOJ had not been allowed access to the physical facilities. The letter detailed findings of sexual abuse of female inmates by guards (including rapes), lack of adequate medical care, lack of mental health services, grossly deficient sanitation, crowding, and other threats to the physical safety and well-being of inmates in violation of their constitutional rights. On March 10, 1997, the DOJ filed a lawsuit against the state of Michigan under 42 U.S.C. § 1997 in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan, Flint office, alleging that the state had violated the rights of women prisoners at Scott and Crane to be free from sexual misconduct and unlawful invasions of privacy, and to receive appropriate medical and mental health care. The medical and mental health care claims were later withdrawn.

The case had received the docket number 97-40053 in Flint, but it was quickly transferred to Detroit and given a new docket number (97-71514). It was consolidated for discovery purposes with another case brought by women prisoners, Nunn v. Mich. Dept. of Corrections, 2:96-cv-71416, (E.D. Mich) (PC-MI-0017).

After considerable discovery, the state and the federal government (but not the private plaintiffs in Nunn) entered into a Settlement Agreement on May 25, 1999. The District Court (Judge John Corbett O'Meara) approved the settlement agreement as a court order on September 30, 1999. The agreement provided for considerable changes to Michigan Department of Corrections (MDOC) policies and procedures relating to sexual misconduct. Among other things, the agreement included: preemployment screenings, staff trainings, inmate education, facilitation of inmate and staff reporting of sexual misconduct allegations, investigation of sexual misconduct allegations, approach and response to misconduct, monitoring of inmate bathroom, dressing and shower areas, pat-down searches, and inmate screenings. It further set forth terms for quality assurance and for DOJ monitoring for compliance with the terms of the agreement.

Following execution of this settlement agreement, the case was conditionally dismissed by Judge O'Meara on September 28, 1999, pending Michigan's compliance with the terms of the agreement. The case was placed on the court's inactive docket during this time, and the parties agreed upon an expert, Patrick McManus, to assess Michigan's compliance with the settlement agreement three and six months after its execution. The U.S. filed a memo in support of its stipulation to conditionally dismiss the case in March 2000 indicating that the expert had found Michigan to be in substantial compliance with the terms of the settlement.

The court entered an order of conditional dismissal of the case on August 17, 2000. As part of its subsequent compliance efforts, the Michigan Department of Corrections established a policy barring men from serving as resident officers in housing units in women's prisons, and began the process of replacing those positions with female officers.

After the directive to staff housing units with female officers, male corrections officers filed a separate lawsuit alleging gender discrimination. (Everson v. Michigan Dept. of Corrections, 391 F.3d 737 (6th Cir. 2004). In December 2002, the compliance expert filed a final report concluding that defendants were in substantial compliance with much of the agreement, but because of Michigan's ongoing efforts to staff housing units with female officers, that portion of the settlement would be subject to additional monitoring. Judge O'Meara granted the parties' stipulation for Partial Unconditional Dismissal of the case in February 2003, agreeing to up to one year of continued monitoring only on the issue of female housing guards, given a pending appeal in the Everson case (the district court in that case had found the Department of Corrections could not designate such positions as "female-only" - that issue was being contested on appeal). In October 2004, the defendants sought full unconditional dismissal of the case, given that the timeline for continued monitoring of the housing situation had expired (even though the Everson decision remained pending). The 6th Circuit finally issued its ruling in Everson in December 2004 (391 F.3d 737, 6th Cir. 2004), concluding that female gender was a bonafide occupational qualification for housing unit guards in women's prisons. Rehearing en banc in the Everson case was denied in March 2005.

Subsequently, on September 29, 2005, the Defendants withdrew their Motion for full unconditional dismissal of this action. Thus, all that was left of the case was the issue of the staffing of housing units by women. That issue was finally dismissed on April 25, 2007, after the state apparently attested that only female officers were assigned to housing units in all facilities covered by the settlement agreement.

Summary Authors

Denise Lieberman (10/9/2005)

Carolyn Weltman (2/21/2016)

Related Cases

Knop v. Johnson, Western District of Michigan (1984)

Nunn v. Michigan Department of Corrections, Eastern District of Michigan (1996)

Everson v. Michigan Department of Corrections, Eastern District of Michigan (2000)

People


Judge(s)

Cohn, Avern Levin (Michigan)

Goldman, Marc L (California)

O'Meara, John Corbett (Michigan)

Attorneys(s) for Plaintiff

Brown Cutlar, Shanetta Y. (District of Columbia)

Davis, Tawana E. (District of Columbia)

Green, Saul A. (Michigan)

Labelle, Deborah A. (Michigan)

Lee, Bill Lann (California)

Masling, Mark S. (District of Columbia)

Nelson, Mellie H. (District of Columbia)

Judge(s)

Cohn, Avern Levin (Michigan)

Goldman, Marc L (California)

O'Meara, John Corbett (Michigan)

Attorneys(s) for Plaintiff

Brown Cutlar, Shanetta Y. (District of Columbia)

Davis, Tawana E. (District of Columbia)

Green, Saul A. (Michigan)

Labelle, Deborah A. (Michigan)

Lee, Bill Lann (California)

Masling, Mark S. (District of Columbia)

Nelson, Mellie H. (District of Columbia)

Patrick, Deval L. (District of Columbia)

Peabody, Arthur E. Jr. (District of Columbia)

Pinzler, Isabelle Katz (District of Columbia)

Reno, Molly H. (Michigan)

Rosenbaum, Steven H. (District of Columbia)

Shoenberg, Dana (District of Columbia)

Soble, Richard (Michigan)

Attorneys(s) for Defendant

Cox, Michael A. (Michigan)

Dettmer, Michael Hayes (Michigan)

Edick, David G. (Michigan)

Friedman, Leo H. (Michigan)

Hart, Wallace T. (Michigan)

Kelley, Frank J. (Michigan)

Martin, Bill (Michigan)

Matus, Mark W. (Michigan)

Monticello, Frank J. (Michigan)

Nickerson, Michael A. (Michigan)

Shamraj, Marie (Michigan)

Thom, Kevin M. (Michigan)

Thurber, John L. (Michigan)

Expert/Monitor/Master

McManus, Patrick D. (Minnesota)

Documents in the Clearinghouse

Document

2:97-cv-71514

Docket (PACER)

USA v. Michigan

April 25, 2007

April 25, 2007

Docket

Memorandum re: Proposed Investigation of the Crane Correctional Facility and the Scott Correctional Facility, Coldwater and Plymouth, Michigan

U.S. v. Michigan

No Court

May 27, 1994

May 27, 1994

Internal memorandum

Notice Letter re: CRIPA Investigation of the Crane Correctional Facility and the Scott Correctional Facility, Coldwater and Plymouth, Michigan

U.S. v. Michigan

No Court

June 9, 1994

June 9, 1994

Notice Letter

Findings Letter re: CRIPA Investigation of the Crane Correctional Facility and the Scott Correctional Facility, Coldwater and Plymouth, Michigan

U.S. v. Michigan

No Court

March 27, 1995

March 27, 1995

Findings Letter/Report

Press Release: "Justice Department Sues Michigan Over Conditions at Women's Prisons"

U.S. v. Michigan

No Court

March 10, 1997

March 10, 1997

Press Release
1

1:97-cv-40053

Complaint

U.S. v. Michigan

March 10, 1997

March 10, 1997

Complaint

2:97-cv-71514

Settlement Agreement

U.S. v. Michigan

May 25, 1999

May 25, 1999

Settlement Agreement
89

2:97-cv-71514

United States' Memorandum in Support of Stipulation to Dismiss

U.S. v. Michigan

March 7, 2000

March 7, 2000

Pleading / Motion / Brief
90

2:97-cv-71514

96-71416

Defendants' Motion for Full Unconditional Dismissal Pursuant to the February 19, 2003 Stipulation Between the Parties

Nunn v. MDOC

Oct. 28, 2004

Oct. 28, 2004

Pleading / Motion / Brief
93

2:97-cv-71514

96-71416

Plaintiffs' Response and Brief in Opposition to Defendants' Motion for Full Unconditional Dismissal

Nunn v. Michigan Department of Corrections

Nov. 19, 2004

Nov. 19, 2004

Pleading / Motion / Brief

Resources

Docket

Last updated May 31, 2022, 3:16 a.m.

Docket sheet not available via the Clearinghouse.

Case Details

State / Territory: Michigan

Case Type(s):

Prison Conditions

Key Dates

Filing Date: March 10, 1997

Closing Date: 2007

Case Ongoing: No

Plaintiffs

Plaintiff Description:

United States Department of Justice Civil Rights Division

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

Michigan Department of Corrections, State

Michigan Department of Corrections, State

Case Details

Causes of Action:

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

Availably Documents:

Trial Court Docket

Complaint (any)

Injunctive (or Injunctive-like) Relief

Non-settlement Outcome

Outcome

Prevailing Party: Plaintiff

Nature of Relief:

Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement

Source of Relief:

Settlement

Form of Settlement:

Court Approved Settlement or Consent Decree

Conditional Dismissal

Amount Defendant Pays: 0

Order Duration: 1999 - 2007

Issues

General:

Assault/abuse by staff

Sex w/ staff; sexual harassment by staff

Discrimination-basis:

Sex discrimination

Affected Gender:

Female

Medical/Mental Health:

Medical care, general

Mental health care, general

Type of Facility:

Government-run