Resource: The Power of Settlement as an Alternative Strategy for Institutional Reform: The Case of Doe v. Napper

By: Marina Volanakis

April 30, 1999

Using Doe v. Napper -- 93-CV-642-JEC (N.D. Ga 1993) -- as a model, this paper sought to demonstrate the extent to which settlement negotiations successfully circumvented many of the crucial limitations of both legislation and adjudication in reforming the Marietta Regional Youth Detention Center (MRYDC), despite also bearing negative attributes of both traditional reform strategies.

The paper initially sketches the key arguments presented by scholars in the field about the merits and shortcomings of both adjudication and legislation as institutional reform strategies, as well as some of the more recent work on settlement as an alternative to these two approaches. It then begins the process of applying these theories to the specific case of Georgia's juvenile justice system, describing the early legislative strategies that sought to bring about reform on both state and local levels, and suggesting some of the reasons why these efforts were unsuccessful.

Following this, the case study traces the early stages of the Doe v. Napper litigation, and the extent to which it illustrates the ineffectiveness of litigation in the institutional reform context. It explains why the parties entered into settlement negotiations, and traces the agreements that were made during the case's first year. Some of the shortcomings of settlements are then addressed. Finally, it discusses how Doe v. Napper was resolved, first describing the final consent decree, and then assessing its impact on the daily administration of the MRYDC.

Resource Type(s):

Case Studies

Institution: Harvard

Related Cases:

Doe v. Napper