Case: Trigg v. Blanton

78-06067 | Tennessee state trial court

Filed Date: 1978

Clearinghouse coding complete

Case Summary

Sometime on or about 1978, inmates at a Tennessee state prison filed a civil rights lawsuit against the Department of Corrections in the Chancery Court of Davidson County, Tennessee. The National Prison Project and Legal Services of Nashville, Tennessee represented the plaintiffs. On August 23, 1978 the court (Chancellor Ben H. Cantrell) issued an order finding the entire Tennessee prison system unconstitutional.Specifically, the court found that inmates' vocational, educational, social, ment…

Sometime on or about 1978, inmates at a Tennessee state prison filed a civil rights lawsuit against the Department of Corrections in the Chancery Court of Davidson County, Tennessee. The National Prison Project and Legal Services of Nashville, Tennessee represented the plaintiffs. On August 23, 1978 the court (Chancellor Ben H. Cantrell) issued an order finding the entire Tennessee prison system unconstitutional.

Specifically, the court found that inmates' vocational, educational, social, mental, medical, recreational and physical needs were not met. Further, the court found that defendants' classification system was inadequate and that inmates lived with constant fear of assault in an excessively violent environment. The facilities were found to be inadequate, unsanitary, and not suitable for rehabilitation purposes. Overcrowding augmented this problem. The court also found that some prisoners were kept in county jails in excess of ten days in violation of these individuals' constitutional rights. According to Prison Law Monitor, Vol. 1, No. 4, Sept. 1978, this was the first case in which a state court, rather than a federal court, declared an entire state prison system unconstitutional.

The court ordered that at minimum, overcrowding must be eliminated and that the classification system must be improved to decrease the level of violence at the facility and to better identify medical, educational, and treatment needs of inmates. The court ordered that the medical delivery system must be improved and unsanitary and unhealthy physical conditions in living and food service areas must be corrected. The court also ordered that a monitor oversee compliance with this order. We have no PACER docket and no further information on this case.

Summary Authors

Emilee Baker (5/24/2006)

People


Judge(s)

Cantrell, Ben H. (Tennessee)

Judge(s)

Cantrell, Ben H. (Tennessee)

Documents in the Clearinghouse

Document

78-06067

Order

Sept. 1, 1978

Sept. 1, 1978

Order/Opinion

Resources

Docket

Last updated Aug. 1, 2022, 3:01 a.m.

Docket sheet not available via the Clearinghouse.

Case Details

State / Territory: Tennessee

Case Type(s):

Prison Conditions

Key Dates

Filing Date: 1978

Case Ongoing: Unknown

Plaintiffs

Plaintiff Description:

Prison inmates

Plaintiff Type(s):

Private Plaintiff

Public Interest Lawyer: Yes

Filed Pro Se: Unknown

Class Action Sought: No

Class Action Outcome: Not sought

Defendants

Tennessee Department of Corrections, State

Tennessee Prison System, State

Case Details

Causes of Action:

State law

Availably Documents:

Any published opinion

Outcome

Prevailing Party: Plaintiff

Nature of Relief:

Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement

Source of Relief:

Litigation

Order Duration: 1978 - 0

Issues

General:

Assault/abuse by residents/inmates/students

Classification / placement

Disciplinary procedures

Education

Food service / nutrition / hydration

Recreation / Exercise

Rehabilitation

Sanitation / living conditions

Totality of conditions

Crowding:

Crowding / caseload

Medical/Mental Health:

Medical care, general

Mental health care, general

Untreated pain

Type of Facility:

Government-run