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Case Name Gates v. Collier [Cook] PC-MS-0001
Docket / Court 4:71-CV-00006 ( N.D. Miss. )
State/Territory Mississippi
Case Type(s) Prison Conditions
Attorney Organization ACLU National (all projects)
ACLU National Prison Project
U.S. Dept. of Justice Civil Rights Division
Case Summary
On February 8, 1971, inmates at the Mississippi State Penitentiary at Parchman, Mississippi filed a class action lawsuit under 42 U.S.C. §§ 1981, 1983, 1985, and 1994, against the Penitentiary, the Mississippi Penitentiary Board and the Governor in the U.S. District Court for the Northern ... read more >
On February 8, 1971, inmates at the Mississippi State Penitentiary at Parchman, Mississippi filed a class action lawsuit under 42 U.S.C. §§ 1981, 1983, 1985, and 1994, against the Penitentiary, the Mississippi Penitentiary Board and the Governor in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Mississippi, Greenville Division. The plaintiffs, represented by the ACLU National Prison Project and private counsel, asked the court for declaratory and injunctive relief, alleging that conditions and practices in the maintenance, operation and administration of the Parchman facility violated their First, Eighth, Thirteenth and Fourteenth Amendment rights. Further, the plaintiffs alleged that black inmates were segregated and discriminated against on the basis of their race.

On August 23, 1971, the U.S. Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division was allowed to intervene. In its complaint, the government alleged that the defendants maintained a system of prison facilities segregated by race, and additionally failed to provide inmates with adequate housing, medical care, and protection from other inmates, that conditions of the sewage disposal and water systems created an immediate health hazard, and that prison officials permitted the custodial staff, including inadequately trained armed trustees, to inflict cruel and unusual punishment upon inmates.

After a full evidentiary hearing on May 15, 1972, on September 13, 1972, the District Court (Judge William Colbert Keady) issued findings of fact and conclusions of law. Gates v. Collier, 349 F. Supp. 881 (N.D. Miss. 1972). The court found the defendants practiced racial discrimination, provided inadequate physical facilities, medical facilities and protection of inmates, inadequate training to trustees, excessive disciplinary rules, punishment without adequate procedure, and unconstitutional censure of mail. The court found conditions violative of inmates' First, Sixth, Eighth and Fourteenth Amendment rights, and issued an injunctive order providing immediate, intermediate and long-range relief. The defendants appealed the Court's award of attorneys' fees as well as the Court's ruling on the merits of the case. On December 5, 1973, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals (Judge Elbert Tuttle) affirmed the District Court's order. Gates v. Collier, 489 F.2d 298 (5th Cir. 1973). On September 9, 1974, the Fifth Circuit denied the defendants' petition for a rehearing. Gates v. Collier, 500 F.2d 1382 (5th Cir. 1974).

On September 20, 1974, the Fifth Circuit (Judge Tuttle) affirmed the District Court's ruling on the merits. Gates v. Collier, 501 F.2d 1291 (5th Cir. 1974). The Court held that jurisdiction was proper and that conditions that deprived inmates of basic hygiene and adequate medical treatment, including solitary confinement, as well as failure to protect inmates from violence by other inmates and mail censorship, were unconstitutional.

The plaintiffs moved for further relief, alleging the defendants failed to comply with the Court's order and, on January 31, 1975, the District Court (Judge Keady) granted in part and denied in part injunctive relief. Gates v. Collier, 390 F. Supp. 482 (N.D. Miss. 1975). The Court denied some relief, holding that opening and inspecting, but not reading, inmates' mail was constitutional and that racial discrimination at the penitentiary had been mostly eliminated, but granted some relief, holding that the state's continuing failure to provide for inmates' physical health and well-being, and for adequate facilities, contravened the Eighth Amendment. The plaintiffs appealed.

On January 8, 1976, the Fifth Circuit held that the District Court's refusal to modify the previous injunctive order with respect to racial discrimination and training and its modification of the order with respect to mail regulations was not an abuse of discretion. Gates v. Collier, 525 F.2d 965 (5th Cir. 1976).

On November 19, 1976, the District Court (Judge Keady) issued a temporary restraining order enjoining enforcement of various provisions of the Mississippi Corrections Act. Gates v. Collier, 423 F. Supp 732 (N.D. Miss. 1976). The Court further requested the convening of a three-judge court to consider a more permanent injunction concerning inmate housing units that were unfit for human habitation and constitutionally condemned, as well as a ceiling on inmate population of the remaining housing units to avoid unconstitutionally intolerable overcrowding of inmates. The defendants appealed.

On March 18, 1977, the Fifth Circuit (per curiam) affirmed and remanded the case to the District Court to continue the implementation of conversion to a constitutionally permissible penal system. Gates v. Collier, 548 F.2d 1241 (5th Cir. 1977).

After the defendants moved for adoption of revised disciplinary rules, on June 30, 1978, the District Court (Judge Keady) held that revising the disciplinary rules was permissible so long as they did not infringe on the inmates' constitutional rights, and entered a modified version of the defendants' proposed revisions. Gates v. Collier, 454 F. Supp 579 (N.D. Miss. 1978). Of note, the Court held that allowing a classification officer to also serve as a disciplinary hearing officer violated the inmates' due process rights. The plaintiffs appealed.

On November 8, 1979, the Fifth Circuit (Judge Joseph Woodrow Hatchett) affirmed the District Court's adoption of the revised rules. Gates v. Collier, 606 F.2d 115 (5th Cir. 1979).

On January 6, 1983, the District Court (Judge Keady) awarded the plaintiffs attorneys' fees for class representation.

Subsequent litigation by HIV+ inmates was consolidated into this case. In that litigation, male HIV+ prisoners housed at Unit 28 of the maximum-security state prison at Parchman, Mississippi, and female HIV+ prisoners housed at the Central Mississippi Correctional Facility in Rankin County, filed a lawsuit on May 29, 1990, under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against the Mississippi Department of Corrections in the US District Court for the Northern District of Mississippi, Greenville Division. The plaintiffs in that case, represented by the ACLU National Prison Project, alleged that all HIV+ prisoners, regardless of their offense or other classification factors, were housed at the same facility by gender, not allowed to participate in vocational and educational programs, and that living conditions and medical care were inadequate in these HIV+ segregated units. That case was consolidated with this one for having some similar questions of law. For more information on that case, see Moore v. Fordice, PC-MS-0002, on the Clearinghouse.

According to the 5th Circuit in a different case, Gates v. Cook, 376 F.3d 323, in 1998, the District Court for the Northern District of Mississippi finally dismissed the action from its inactive docket as to state-owned, state-operated, and private-company-contracted facilities (not county facilities). The court also stated that it would continue to forward prisoner petitions relating to defendants' facilities to plaintiffs' class counsel.

However, litigation continued regarding compliance with court orders and issues in consolidated cases. Over the next few years, inmates were moved around to various jails and units while repairs to the Mississippi State Penitentiary were being made. The Court denied many inmates that were moved to become class members, but granted plaintiffs several post-judgment attorney fees awards over the next years.

The Moore class (of HIV+ inmates) moved to intervene in this case to challenge adequacy of class representation, but the Court denied the class's motion. The class moved the court for a preliminary injunction to provide HIV+ prisoners with adequate medical care. On July 19, 1999, the court granted this motion, requiring defendants to provide HIV+ prisoners with constitutionally adequate medical care and testing, and requiring progress reports on the implementation of the changes (the order and opinion are not available on PACER).

After alleging noncompliance with prior orders, the plaintiffs moved to supersede previous orders to allow greater inmate access to courts. The court denied this motion, but no available documents provide the court's reasoning.

The ACLU National Prison Project moved to substitute as class counsel for this litigation, though the court ordered that they could not contact inmates until it ruled on their motion. On February 2, 2000, the Court denied the ACLU National Prison Project's motion to represent the interest of HIV+ inmates at Parchman and denied plaintiff's motion to sanction the ACLU. Later, class members appealed the order prohibiting contact by the ACLU National Prison Project; during appeal, the ACLU was allowed to contact inmates only to prosecute its appeal. On February 19, 2000, the Court granted appellants' motion to stay the enforcement of the "no contact" order pending appeal. On April 30, 2001, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit vacated in part and reversed in part the February 2, 2000, decision. However, the details of the decision are not available.

In May of 2000, and for many years following, a number of jails were approved to house additional state inmates. In June of 2000, the Court granted in part a motion for writ of execution to collect contempt fines against the defendants. In the same month, the Court also granted a motion that required inmates to stay in one of the approved jails for at least 30 days to be counted in the jail's population. In September of 2000, the Court ordered the state to pay $1.8 million into the Court's account, and the Court would return $100,000 for each month that the state complied with prior orders. From October of 2000 to February of 2000, the state complied with Court orders and the Court denied plaintiffs' motion for contempt and for an order enforcing the Court's mandate, and granted defendants' motion for the return of $500,000 of the $1.8 million for compliance ($100,000 for each month). On March 30, 2001, the Court ordered the return of the remaining $1.3 million to the state, but retained the interest from the amount with the intention to use it for the plaintiffs' benefit.

This case was consolidated with a few other cases with similar issues whose dockets are not available, and on July 18, 2001, with the Givhan v. Puckett (PC-MS-0004), a case involving a class of Muslim inmates who sought religious freedom in prisons. Over the next few months, many filings were made in the consolidated cases, though the documents and details are not available.

On November 22, 2002, and on May 15, 2003, the court granted plaintiff's motions for modification of prior jail orders, but the details of the modification are not available. The following year, the court also ordered defendants to provide the appropriate amount of space for inmates as required by previous orders.

On May 21, 2003, the court ordered the defendants to remedy Eighth Amendment violations and report progress by July 7, 2003 (part of a consolidated case). Over the next year, the defendants submitted status reports to the court, and the court required the defendants not to discriminate against HIV+ inmates when deciding community work center placement; the Court also required the defendants to report inmate capacity to the Court following a June 4, 2004 status conference. On November 12, 2004, the Court denied a number of motions by class members, warning them that any further filings that are deemed frivolous by the court will count as strikes for the purpose of the Prison Litigation Reform Act (PLRA). On March 31, 2005, the court dismissed the consolidated Moore case (4:90-cv-125), finding that both the PLRA and the compliance with previous orders had provided sufficient relief for the class. Inmates who were HIV+ had been integrated into the general prison population except for housing, and discrimination with respect to services and privileges had been addressed by the defendants.

On March 6, 2006, the Court issued an order to update the April 1997 order to require facilities to more promptly respond to notices of noncompliance from the Court. Under the order, noncompliance after two notices automatically disapproved a jail for incarceration until they were reapproved for compliance. Over the next couple of years, the jails were monitored for compliance and disapproved when not in compliance. The jail order was modified again on September 26 and November 5 of 2007, the first modification required jails to obtain periodic approval from plaintiffs' counsel, and the second required jails to provide evidence of compliance whenever plaintiffs' counsel gave notice of noncompliance. On September 9, 2008, the order was modified to require defendants to pay a flat fee in advance of jail inspections to prevent manipulation by either side.

On March 10, 2011, the Court dismissed the consolidated Stevenson and Givhan cases and the portions of this case related to the state-owned and contractor facilities. The order held that county defendants would be dismissed when the state removed all state prisoners from county jails, or on July 1, 2015, whichever came first. The case was then assigned to Magistrate Judge David A. Sanders for post-judgment proceedings.

On May 29, 2012, the parties submitted a joint stipulation of dismissal without prejudice. Since then, the court has granted roughly 300 orders approving jails or prisons for housing state inmates. The most recent order granting approval occurred in 2017.

On February 25, 2018, a petitioner motioned to reinstate the class action, but it was denied on February 28, 2018. The petitioner appealed this decision and which was then denied by the U.S. Court of Appeals on September 20, 2018. There has been no further action on the docket.

Josh Altman - 10/06/2006
Maurice Youkanna - 07/20/2014
Christiana Johnson - 10/17/2019

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Issues and Causes of Action
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Affected Gender
Constitutional Clause
Cruel and Unusual Punishment
Due Process
Equal Protection
Content of Injunction
Develop anti-discrimination policy
Discrimination Prohibition
Preliminary relief granted
Crowding / caseload
Pre-PLRA Population Cap
Race discrimination
Access to lawyers or judicial system
Assault/abuse by residents/inmates/students
Assault/abuse by staff
Bathing and hygiene
Classification / placement
Conditions of confinement
Disciplinary procedures
Disciplinary segregation
Failure to discipline
Failure to supervise
Failure to train
Food service / nutrition / hydration
Good time
Racial segregation
Religious programs / policies
Sanitation / living conditions
Sexual abuse by residents/inmates
Staff (number, training, qualifications, wages)
Totality of conditions
Unconstitutional conditions of confinement
Medical/Mental Health
Medical care, general
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Type of Facility
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. § 1983
Declaratory Judgment Act, 28 U.S.C. § 2201
State law
Defendant(s) Mississippi
Plaintiff Description Prisoners in the Mississippi Department of Corrections facility at Parchman.
Indexed Lawyer Organizations ACLU National (all projects)
ACLU National Prison Project
U.S. Dept. of Justice Civil Rights Division
Class action status sought Yes
Class action status outcome Granted
Filed Pro Se No
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief Preliminary injunction / Temp. restraining order
Attorneys fees
Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement
Source of Relief Litigation
Order Duration 1972 - n/a
Filed 02/08/1971
Case Ongoing Yes
Case Listing PC-MS-0002 : Moore v. Fordice (N.D. Miss.)
PC-MS-0003 : Russell v. Johnson (N.D. Miss.)
PC-MS-0004 : Givhan v. Puckett (N.D. Miss.)
Additional Resources
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  Brokered Justice: Race, Politics, and Mississippi Prisons, 1798-1992
Date: July 1994
By: William Banks Taylor (University of Southern Mississippi Faculty)
Citation: (1994)
[ Detail ]

Court Docket(s)
N.D. Miss.
PC-MS-0001-9001.pdf | Detail
N.D. Miss.
PC-MS-0001-9003.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
N.D. Miss.
PC-MS-0001-9002.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
N.D. Miss.
PC-MS-0001-9000.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
N.D. Miss.
Complaint [ECF# 1]
PC-MS-0001-0017.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
N.D. Miss.
Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law [ECF# 3] (349 F.Supp. 881)
PC-MS-0001-0007.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Source: Google Scholar
U.S. Court of Appeals
Opinion (489 F.2d 298)
PC-MS-0001-0008.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Source: Google Scholar
U.S. Court of Appeals
On Petition for Rehearing and Petition for Rehearing En Banc (500 F.2d 1382)
PC-MS-0001-0009.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Source: Google Scholar
U.S. Court of Appeals
Opinion (501 F.2d 1291)
PC-MS-0001-0010.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Source: Google Scholar
N.D. Miss.
Memorandum Opinion (390 F.Supp. 482)
PC-MS-0001-0011.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Source: Google Scholar
U.S. Court of Appeals
Opinion (525 F.2d 965)
PC-MS-0001-0012.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Source: Google Scholar
N.D. Miss.
Memorandum Opinion (423 F.Supp. 732)
PC-MS-0001-0013.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Source: Google Scholar
U.S. Court of Appeals
Opinion (548 F.2d 1241)
PC-MS-0001-0014.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Source: Google Scholar
N.D. Miss.
Memorandum Opinion (454 F.Supp. 579)
PC-MS-0001-0006.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Source: Google Scholar
U.S. Court of Appeals
Opinion (606 F.2d 115)
PC-MS-0001-0005.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Source: Google Scholar
N.D. Miss.
PC-MS-0001-0001.pdf | Detail
U.S. Court of Appeals
Appellate Opinion (976 F.2d 268)
PC-MS-0001-0016.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Source: Google Scholar
N.D. Miss.
PC-MS-0001-0004.pdf | Detail
U.S. Court of Appeals
Appellate Opinion (234 F.3d 221)
PC-MS-0001-0015.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Source: Google Scholar
N.D. Miss.
Order Dismissing Moore Case with Prejudice [ECF# 178]
PC-MS-0001-0024.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
N.D. Miss.
Local Jails Order of 2006 [ECF# 855]
PC-MS-0001-0018.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
N.D. Miss.
Motion [to Amend Administrative Remedy Program for Medical Complaints] [ECF# 904]
PC-MS-0001-0019.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
N.D. Miss.
Local Jails Order of 2007 [ECF# 1027]
PC-MS-0001-0020.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
N.D. Miss.
Local Jails Order of 2007 [ECF# 1028]
PC-MS-0001-0021.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
N.D. Miss.
Local Jails Amended Order [ECF# 1102]
PC-MS-0001-0022.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
N.D. Miss.
Order Dismissing State Corrections Facilities [ECF# 1282]
PC-MS-0001-0023.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
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Judges Ainsworth, Robert Andrew Jr. (E.D. La., Fifth Circuit) show/hide docs
Bell, Griffin Boyette (Fifth Circuit) show/hide docs
Benavides, Fortunato Pedro (Fifth Circuit) show/hide docs
Brown, Paul Neeley (E.D. Tex.) show/hide docs
Clark, Charles (Fifth Circuit) show/hide docs
PC-MS-0001-0012 | PC-MS-0001-0014
Coleman, James Plemon (Fifth Circuit) show/hide docs
PC-MS-0001-0009 | PC-MS-0001-0012
Davis, Jerry A. (N.D. Miss.) show/hide docs
PC-MS-0001-0018 | PC-MS-0001-0020 | PC-MS-0001-0021 | PC-MS-0001-0022 | PC-MS-0001-0023 | PC-MS-0001-0024 | PC-MS-0001-9002 | PC-MS-0001-9003
Garwood, William Lockhart (Fifth Circuit) show/hide docs
Gewin, Walter Pettus (Fifth Circuit) show/hide docs
Hatchett, Joseph Woodrow (Fifth Circuit, Eleventh Circuit) show/hide docs
Ingraham, Joe McDonald (S.D. Tex., Fifth Circuit) show/hide docs
Jones, Edith Hollan (Fifth Circuit) show/hide docs
Keady, William Colbert (N.D. Miss.) show/hide docs
PC-MS-0001-0001 | PC-MS-0001-0006 | PC-MS-0001-0007 | PC-MS-0001-0011 | PC-MS-0001-0013
King, Carolyn Dineen (Fifth Circuit) show/hide docs
Politz, Henry Anthony (Fifth Circuit) show/hide docs
Sanders, David A. (N.D. Miss.) [Magistrate] show/hide docs
Thornberry, William Homer (W.D. Tex., Fifth Circuit) show/hide docs
Tuttle, Arthur J. (E.D. Mich.) show/hide docs
PC-MS-0001-0008 | PC-MS-0001-0010 | PC-MS-0001-0014
Walter, Donald Ellsworth (W.D. La.) show/hide docs
Wisdom, John Minor (Fifth Circuit) show/hide docs
Plaintiff's Lawyers Feierman, Jessica (Alabama) show/hide docs
PC-MS-0001-9000 | PC-MS-0001-9003
Haber, Roy S. (Mississippi) show/hide docs
Hanlon, Stephen F (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
Hicks, Elizabeth Jane (Mississippi) show/hide docs
PC-MS-0001-0015 | PC-MS-0001-9003
McDuff, Robert B. (Mississippi) show/hide docs
PC-MS-0001-0015 | PC-MS-0001-9003
Rydzewski, Leo G. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
Slaughter-Harvey, Constance (Mississippi) show/hide docs
Welch, Ronald R. (Mississippi) show/hide docs
PC-MS-0001-0015 | PC-MS-0001-0018 | PC-MS-0001-0020 | PC-MS-0001-0021 | PC-MS-0001-0022 | PC-MS-0001-9000 | PC-MS-0001-9002 | PC-MS-0001-9003
Winter, Margaret (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
PC-MS-0001-0015 | PC-MS-0001-9000 | PC-MS-0001-9003
Defendant's Lawyers Baughn, Darrell Clayton (Mississippi) show/hide docs
Broom, Haley Necaise (Mississippi) show/hide docs
Clay, John L. (Mississippi) show/hide docs
PC-MS-0001-0016 | PC-MS-0001-9000 | PC-MS-0001-9002 | PC-MS-0001-9003
Clayton, Tacey Clark (Mississippi) show/hide docs
Crow, John J. Jr. (Mississippi) show/hide docs
Faneca, Cyril T. (Mississippi) show/hide docs
Garner, Sharon Marie (Mississippi) show/hide docs
Goff, Joseph A. (Mississippi) show/hide docs
PC-MS-0001-0015 | PC-MS-0001-9000
Goodwin, Tommy D. (Mississippi) show/hide docs
Griffin, Willie (Mississippi) show/hide docs
Hall, Pelicia Everett (Mississippi) show/hide docs
Hood, Jim (Mississippi) show/hide docs
PC-MS-0001-0018 | PC-MS-0001-0019 | PC-MS-0001-0020 | PC-MS-0001-0021 | PC-MS-0001-0022
Irvin, Charles Baron (Mississippi) show/hide docs
Mapp, Jane Lanier (Mississippi) show/hide docs
Maxey, John L. II (Mississippi) show/hide docs
Moore, Mike (Mississippi) show/hide docs
PC-MS-0001-0016 | PC-MS-0001-9000
Moss, Tyler Lloyd (Mississippi) show/hide docs
Munn, Elise Berry (Mississippi) show/hide docs
Norris, James Marshall (Mississippi) show/hide docs
Nowak, Anthony E. (Mississippi) show/hide docs
Perkins, Willie J. (Mississippi) show/hide docs
Ross, Tom T. Jr. (Mississippi) show/hide docs
Sanders, Robert E. (Mississippi) show/hide docs
Schmidt, Anthony Louis (Mississippi) show/hide docs
Scott, David K. (Mississippi) show/hide docs
PC-MS-0001-0019 | PC-MS-0001-9000
Steel, James F. (Mississippi) show/hide docs
PC-MS-0001-9000 | PC-MS-0001-9002 | PC-MS-0001-9003
Thaggard, Lee (Mississippi) show/hide docs
Vincent, Leonard Charlton (Mississippi) show/hide docs
PC-MS-0001-0015 | PC-MS-0001-0016 | PC-MS-0001-0019 | PC-MS-0001-9000 | PC-MS-0001-9002 | PC-MS-0001-9003
Weissinger, Charles H. (Mississippi) show/hide docs
White, Walton W. (Mississippi) show/hide docs

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