Settlement Agreement U.S. v. Wyoming State Dept. of Corrections
Pursuant to the Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons
Act, 42 U.S.C. § 1997, the United States initiated an
investigation into conditions of confinement at the Wyoming State
Penitentiary (WSP) located in Rawlins, Wyoming. (1) On June 29,
1999, the United States issued a findings letter in which it
concluded that certain conditions at WSP violated the
constitutional rights of inmates confined in the penitentiary.
Wyoming denied that any conditions at WSP violated the
constitutional rights of inmates. Wyoming, however, indicated
and demonstrated an intention to improve conditions at WSP. The
United States provided Wyoming with its consultant reports to
assist in the achievement of voluntary remedial action.
In October and December, 1999, the United States conducted
additional expert evaluations of the prison. On April 6, 2000
the United States informed Wyoming that a number of improvements
had been achieved at WSP, but that it continued to conclude that
certain conditions violate the constitutional rights of inmates.
While Wyoming denies that any conditions at WSP violate the
constitutional rights of inmates, it has nonetheless demonstrated
a willingness to resolve the remaining conditions at the
penitentiary without the expense, time, and uncertainty of
contested litigation. Nothing contained in this Settlement
Agreement is to be construed as an admission that Wyoming
violated the constitutional rights of any inmate.
Fulfillment of the terms of this agreement, voluntarily
negotiated and entered into by the United States and the State of
Wyoming, is intended to resolve all remaining issues relating to
conditions of confinement at WSP. The State of Wyoming and the
United States expect the State to achieve full compliance with
the terms of this agreement within two years of the signing of
this agreement, provided however, that compliance with specific
individual items shall be within the time requirements specified
within the agreement.
1. "The Parties" refers to the State of Wyoming and to the
2. "The State" refers to officials of the State of
Wyoming, including the Wyoming Department of Corrections and the
Wyoming State Penitentiary.
3. "The Wyoming State Penitentiary" includes any buildings
or grounds occupied or utilized for correctional purposes at the
"North Facility" or "South Facility" located at Rawlins, Wyoming.
4. "Medical Personnel/Professional" refers to a
physician, physician's assistant, registered nurse or LPN, or
correctional officer certified as an Emergency Medical
5. "Mental Health Personnel/Professional" refers
to a physician, psychiatrist, psychologist, physician's
assistant, nurse, psychiatric nurse, or others who by virtue of
their education, credentials and experience, are qualified to
evaluate and care for the mental health needs of patients.
6. "Substantial compliance" means there has been
performance of the material terms of the Settlement Agreement.
Materiality shall be determined by reference to the overall
objectives of the Settlement Agreement. Substantial compliance
may be achieved in any of the five substantive areas addressed in
this settlement agreement (medical care, mental health care,
security and protection from harm, fire safety, and environmental
health and safety) prior to achievement of substantial compliance
in all of the five areas. Noncompliance with mere
technicalities, or temporary failure to comply during a period of
otherwise sustained compliance, will not constitute failure to
maintain substantial compliance. At the same time, temporary
compliance during a period of otherwise sustained noncompliance
shall not constitute substantial compliance.
III. MEDICAL CARE
A. Policies and Procedures
1. The State shall continue to develop, update, and
implement appropriate medical policies, procedures, and
protocols, that include, the following: initial inmate screening
and inmate health assessments, staffing levels and job
descriptions, sick call and other access to medical services,
distribution and management of medications, physical assessment,
emergency care, dental care, mental health care, communicable
disease testing and control, medical records, staff training,
quality control, and medical grievance procedures.
B. Medical Staffing and Professional Credentials
1. The State shall provide and maintain sufficient medical
care staffing to ensure full-time physician or physician
assistant coverage (under the supervision of a physician) five
days per week, 52 weeks per year (excluding holidays). The State
shall also provide and maintain appropriate 24-hour daily on-call
2. The State shall provide a report during each
compliance reporting period, discussed infra, setting forth all
medical staffing positions filled and unfilled on the first day
of each reporting period. This report shall include all medical
personnel/professional job classifications, as defined above.
3. The State shall ensure that qualified, licensed
physicians appropriately supervise inmate medical and mental
health treatment, nursing staff, and medical policy development.
4. The State shall verify medical credentials for all
medical professionals upon initial hire, and at least every two
years thereafter. The verification shall include inquiry into
any restrictions or sanctions for each health professional who
provides medical care to patients. The State shall maintain
copies of current professional credential licensing for all
medical and mental health professionals, and maintain appropriate
records of its credential verifications.
C. Intake Screening, Sick Call, and Medication Management
1. The State shall perform timely initial health
screens for new inmates within twenty-four (24) hours of arrival
in order to identify health problems, communicable diseases, and
medication needs. A physician or physician's assistant shall
perform full health assessments within fourteen days of an
inmate's arrival at WSP. A registered nurse may perform the
assessment provided that the nurse has received documented
training in physical assessment practices and procedures.
2. The State shall keep records, by month, of the number
of health assessments performed on new inmates and whether the
assessments were performed in a timely or untimely manner.
3. The State shall timely respond to inmate sick call
requests and document the missed appointment rate monthly.
Within sixty days, medical personnel shall develop a plan to
reduce the rate of missed appointments.
4. Within sixty days, the physician and the psychiatrist
shall develop a plan to provide periodic and systematic review of
all inmate medical charts to ensure medication continuity and
appropriate medication prescription and distribution practices.
The program shall include a performance measurement component.
D. Infirmary Care
1. The State shall continue to refine its program to
provide medically appropriate infirmary care. The program shall
include protocols regarding physician and nursing visits, medical
and mental health evaluations, medical orders, discharge
decisions, and chart documentation.
2. The State shall continue to monitor nutrition, fluid
intake, and weight levels of inmates admitted to the infirmary
due to hunger strikes.
E. Referrals to Specialty Medical Services
1. The State shall establish a system to ensure that
inmates receive necessary specialty care in a timely manner.
F. Chronic Care
1. The State shall continue to improve its chronic care
disease management program. As part of this program, the State
shall maintain an updated chronic disease registry of inmates
suffering from chronic illnesses, including, but not limited to,
the following conditions: asthma, cardiac disease, diabetes, HIV
infection, hypertension, and seizure disorder.
2. The State shall develop and maintain updated chronic
disease treatment guidelines and utilize them to provide
appropriate treatment for chronic illnesses, including routine
tests and examinations.
3. The State shall document all care, including routine
tests and examinations provided to inmates suffering from chronic
G. Mortality Reviews
1. The State shall request an autopsy and shall
conduct a mortality review for every inmate who dies while in the
custody of the State. During each reporting period, discussed
infra, the State shall report mortality statistics including the
number of deaths; date of death; age; and suspected cause of
death. The State shall also summarize the facts surrounding the
death and summarize any quality improvement actions taken as a
result of the mortality review.
2. Mortality reviews shall involve physicians, nurses,
and other relevant State personnel and shall seek to determine
whether there was a pattern of symptoms which might have resulted
in earlier diagnosis and intervention. In addition, mortality
reviews shall examine events immediately surrounding the inmate
death to determine if appropriate interventions were undertaken.
H. Medical Safety
1. The State shall continue to improve its medical
safety procedures. The State shall continue to ventilate the
respiratory isolation room appropriately, utilize proper medical
masks, sterilize medical instruments, and immediately discard
expired medications and medical diagnostic materials.
2. The State shall maintain, inspect, and calibrate the
x-ray equipment on a regular basis.
3. The State shall maintain and implement current site-
specific blood borne pathogen and tuberculosis control plans.
The State shall train all staff and inmate workers on these plans
on an annual basis. In the event of an inmate exposure to blood
or body fluids, the State shall take prompt and appropriate
4. The State shall continue to improve its communicable
disease testing, monitoring, and treatment program. The State
shall eliminate any unreasonable delays between identification
and treatment of tuberculosis.
IV. MENTAL HEALTH CARE
A. Mental Health Staffing
1. The State shall provide and maintain sufficient mental
health care staffing to ensure the following: provision of
adequate mental health treatment; developing appropriate
treatment plans; maintaining adequate mental health records;
timely screening of new inmates; evaluating inmates to determine
appropriate housing placements; and managing acute mental health
episodes. To assure the adequate provision of mental health
services, the State shall provide the following mental health
professionals: a psychiatrist providing services at least three
full days per week, a full-time Ph.D. psychologist/mental health
director, two full-time licensed clinical social workers, and a
full-time psychiatric registered nurse.
B. Mental Health Screening
1. The State shall continue to promptly conduct mental
health intake evaluations of new inmates to identify and refer
inmates needing or requesting mental health services.
2. The State systematically shall collect and document
relevant information by month regarding its mental health intake
system including, at minimum, the following: the number of new
receptions per month; the number of inmates screened positive for
further mental health evaluation; the number of inmates who enter
WSP with psychotropic medications; the number of inmates
determined to require mental health services; and the type of
mental health services required.
C. Administrative and Punitive Segregation
1. The State shall conduct mental health screens and
maintain appropriate documentation of inmates newly arrived in
administrative segregation in order to ensure that mental health
needs of inmates so classified will be met. The State shall
provide ongoing necessary mental health care to inmates in
administrative segregation and remove any obstacles to obtaining
mental health care while in administrative segregation.
2. The State shall consider and appropriately address
mental health issues during disciplinary hearings.
3. The State shall continue to house all inmates requiring
suicide precautions in the infirmary.
D. Mental Health Medication Practices
1. The State shall continue to refine its policies and
procedures for managing use of psychotropic medications,
including medication reviews, medical monitoring, and delineation
of appropriate roles for non-psychiatric physicians. The State
shall direct particular attention to assuring medication
continuity for inmates prescribed psychotropic medications. A
psychiatrist or psychiatric nurse shall review a ten percent
(10%) sample of mental health medication records, at a minimum,
each month to determine the rate of missed dosages and to assist
staff to take any appropriate corrective actions.
2. The State shall continue to provide medication for
newly arrived inmates with verified prescriptions of psychotropic
medication and promptly psychiatrically evaluate those inmates to
determine whether medication continuation is an appropriate
course of action.
3. The State shall continue to ensure that a licensed,
qualified psychiatrist periodically examines every inmate who
receives psychotropic medication.
E. Treatment Planning and Documentation
1. For every inmate on psychotropic medication and for any
other inmate in need of significant or ongoing mental health
services, the State shall prepare and document a treatment plan
including a clinical assessment by appropriate mental health
personnel, including diagnosis, identification of needs,
problems, and treatment regimen.
2. The State shall prepare a summary report every four
months setting forth the number of inmates on psychotropic
medications and the number with current treatment plans. The
State shall base this report on statistics gathered on the first
day of each respective four month reporting cycle.
3. The State shall continue to improve it mental health
record keeping practices. The State shall maintain complete,
well-organized mental health records which appropriately document
all mental health services rendered and include all physicians'
orders, medication records, and clearly identified progress
V. SECURITY AND PROTECTION FROM HARM
1. The State shall continue to budget for, hire, and
retain sufficient managerial and correctional staff to adequately
supervise and operate WSP. To this end, the State shall
implement the correctional officer staffing plan of April 9,
2001, approved by the United States. Prior to implementation of
any revised staffing plan, the State shall notify the United
States within a reasonable time frame of the proposed
modifications and the parties shall conduct further negotiations
as appropriate. The State shall not be required to notify the
United States prior to temporary implementation (lasting less
than 72 hours) of a revised staffing plan based upon emergency
1. The State shall ensure that correctional officers shall
be stationed, and shall follow procedures, to provide adequate
supervision of inmates in every housing unit to minimize and to
quickly intervene in acts of violence among inmates; respond to
emergencies; and otherwise provide for the basic needs of
C. Classification and Housing
1. The State shall continue to audit its inmate
classification system in order to classify and house inmates
based upon sound professional, penological principles. The State
shall also continue to reclassify all inmates at the time of
2. The State shall take action to assure the safety of
vulnerable inmates by, among other measures, (a) reducing its use
of double-celling of special needs inmates; (b) within ninety
(90) days of signing this agreement, the State shall devise a
plan for housing protective custody inmates and high risk inmates
(e.g., disciplinary segregation, maximum custody, and death row)
in sufficiently distinct housing configurations from one another;
(c) responding in a timely fashion to reported credible threats
of harm from inmates.
3. The State shall continue to identify and
utilize appropriate alternative locations for housing WSP inmates
in order to alleviate crowding and to provide each inmate with a
safe, adequate, and well-supervised living environment.
VI. FIRE SAFETY
A. Occupant Protection
1. The State shall maintain Self Contained Breathing
Apparatus (SCBA) equipment on site and continue to train
sufficient staff so that at least two (2) staff persons on each
shift are trained and certified in SCBA use.
2. The State shall continue to equip each security officer
with a radio.
3. The State shall maintain appropriate emergency exiting
B. Fire Safety Training and Planning
1. The State shall provide initial training to all new
correctional staff and annual refresher training to all staff in
the use of the fire suppression equipment available in the
2. The State shall continue to conduct fire
drills/emergency evacuation drills on at least a quarterly basis
for every shift. The drills should include evacuation of inmates
except when, in the judgement of the State, there is evidence
that institutional security would be compromised by the
evacuation of all inmates. The State shall document all drill
results and incorporate them into staff training.
3. The State shall review and update its fire/emergency
evacuation plan annually with the assistance of a qualified fire
safety consultant (e.g., fire chief).
4. The State shall hire and retain a full time Life Safety
Officer whose job shall include the following: ensuring the
proper maintenance of all fire protection systems and equipment;
ensuring timely and regular inspections and tests of all fire
protection equipment and systems by qualified inspectors;
ensuring that all emergency evacuation plans and procedures are
regularly reviewed and updated; ensuring that all means of
ingress and egress function properly; and controlling the
presence of combustibles throughout the facility, including
inmate cells and in the shops.
C. Ignition and Fuel Control
1. The State shall provide every inmate with a fire
resistant mattress and will provide or allow inmates to purchase
fire safe wastebaskets and storage containers.
2. The State shall continue to properly label and store
flammable chemicals and combustible items in smoke tight rooms or
3. The State shall enforce a facility-wide policy on
smoking to prohibit smoking in areas where flammable or
combustible liquids are stored or used.
VII. ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH AND SAFETY
A. General housekeeping and maintenance
1. The State will implement a preventive maintenance plan
to respond to routine and emergency maintenance needs.
B. Food sanitation
1. The State shall operate WSP's kitchen in a manner
consistent with public health standards. To that end, the State
shall continue to train kitchen employees and inmates in safe
food handling practices. The State shall ensure that a qualified
food service supervisor is present during all hours of kitchen
2. The State shall prepare, serve, and store food in a
clean, healthful manner. The State shall maintain food
temperatures adequate to minimize the possible transmission of
food borne illnesses. The State shall ensure that qualified
inspectors perform quarterly inspections of the kitchen.
C. Tool Control
1. The State shall control and account for the location of
all tools, utensils, and personal effects that could be used as
weapons. The State shall secure all areas in which metal objects
are stored or disposed. The State shall install "shadow boards"
in tool storage, shop, and kitchen utensil areas and daily
account for and document all tools and utensils accessible to
inmates. The State shall not provide inmates access to any area
in which metal objects are stored or held for removal as trash,
unless the State directly and constantly supervises the inmates.
1. The State shall maintain adequate documentation to
ensure compliance with the obligations of this settlement
agreement and to facilitate monitoring of compliance. In order
to carry out these obligations, the State shall maintain the
documentation discussed above and shall comply with the
B. Plan Approval
1. The State shall provide each plan required by this
settlement agreement to the United States within the time
specified. Unless the United States raises an objection to the
plan within thirty days of receipt, the State shall implement the
plan as submitted. If the United States raises an objection to
the plan, the State and the United States shall make good faith
efforts to resolve any disputed items.
1. The State shall prepare and submit to the United
States a comprehensive report regarding compliance with each
paragraph of the settlement agreement together with any required
corrective plans. The State shall submit the first report within
ninety (90) days of the last signature affixed to this settlement
agreement and every four months thereafter. The reports shall
include, as appropriate, documentation, certifications, receipts
and such other information as requested by the United States to
assist in the evaluation of compliance with the terms of this
agreement. Upon achieving and maintaining substantial compliance
for one (1) year, as determined pursuant to this settlement
agreement, for any of the five (5) substantive areas of the
agreement, no further reporting shall be required for that
1. During the term of this settlement agreement, upon
reasonable notice, the United States and its consultants shall
have access to those operations of the North and South facilities
referenced in this settlement agreement and to the records of
inmates and compliance records to the extent necessary to assure
compliance with the specific terms of this settlement agreement.
Upon request, the State shall provide the United States with
copies of, or access to, Wyoming State Penitentiary documents or
records within a reasonable time. The United States shall have
the right to conduct confidential interviews with inmates. The
State shall continue to permit inmates to send and to receive
confidential legal mail to attorneys of record, courts and
representatives of the Department of Justice.
2. Any information or documents obtained pursuant to
this agreement shall not be disseminated, except as provided by
law, to any person not a party (or an employee or contractor of a
party) to this settlement agreement. In the event of a request
under the Freedom of Information Act or any other statute or
provision of law, by a third party for disclosure of any
information or documents provided by the State to the United
States, the United States will assert all applicable exemptions
from disclosure permitted by law. Additionally, the United
States will notify the State of any request for information,
including a complaint filed in court, by a third party pursuant
to the Freedom of Information Act or other disclosure statute.
Information or documents provided to the United States may,
however, be used in any subsequent judicial proceedings brought
by the United States involving conditions of confinement at WSP.
E. Inmate Notification
1. The State shall make the substantive terms of this
agreement available to all inmates by posting a general summary
of the agreement in all housing units and the law library.
F. Third Party Beneficiary Rights
1. The parties do not intend to create in any other
individual or entity the status of third party beneficiary, and
this agreement shall not be construed so as to create such
status. The rights, duties, and obligations contained in this
agreement shall operate only between the parties to the
agreement, and shall inure solely to the benefit of the parties
to this agreement. This Agreement is not intended to impair or
expand the right of any person or organization to seek relief
against the State for its conduct or the conduct of State
employees or agents; accordingly, it does not alter legal
standards governing any such claims.
IX. PROCEDURAL PROVISIONS
A. Application and Enforcement
1. In response to the United States' June 29, 1999
findings letter and April 6, 2000 letter, the State has agreed to
vacate the North Facility of the Wyoming State Penitentiary,
except the kitchen and laundry areas, until such time as the life
safety and other structural concerns have been remedied.
Furthermore, the State has represented to the United States that
the State is in the process of constructing a new kitchen and
laundry facility which is anticipated to be operational by June
2002. Accordingly, this settlement agreement applies only to the
North Facility kitchen and laundry areas and to those operations
of the South Facility as specifically set forth in this
settlement agreement. Except as otherwise provided by law,
nothing herein shall be construed as granting the United States
jurisdiction or enforcement authority over any matters not
specifically enumerated herein.
2. This settlement agreement shall be applicable to and
binding upon all parties, their officers, agents, employees,
assigns, and their successors in office all in their official
3. The State shall conform applicable policies,
procedures, and post orders to accurately reflect the
requirements of this settlement agreement.
4. The State shall immediately explain the pertinent terms
of this settlement agreement to responsible WSP staff and
contract medical staff in order to ensure their understanding of
the requirements of this settlement agreement and the necessity
for strict compliance with the settlement agreement.
5. Except where otherwise specifically indicated, the
State shall complete implementation of all the provisions of this
settlement agreement within one year of the entry of the
B. Termination Provision
1. The State shall diligently implement the terms of this
agreement within the time lines provided herein.
2. The parties agree to lodge this agreement with the
Court in conjunction with a joint motion, pursuant to Fed. R.
Civ. P. 41(a)(2), for the dismissal of this case. The dismissal
shall be conditioned upon the State's achieving substantial
compliance with the entire agreement and maintaining compliance
for at least one year thereafter. Substantial compliance may be
achieved and maintained for one (1) year in any of the five
substantive areas addressed in this settlement agreement prior to
achievement of substantial compliance in all of the five areas.
The motion shall request that the case be placed on the Court's
inactive docket. If the United States believes the State has
failed to substantially comply with the terms of this agreement,
the United States shall give the State written notice of the
substantial noncompliance within twenty (20) days of the United
States' belief of non-compliance. The State shall have thirty
(30) days from receipt of the notice of non-compliance to cure
the non-compliance. If the State does not cure the non-compliance within the thirty (30) day period, the United States
may file a motion to restore the case to the Court's active
docket. In the event the United States believes that the State
has failed to substantially comply with the terms of this
agreement and such non-compliance threatens the immediate health
and safety of inmates, the United States may, without further
notice, file a motion to restore the case to the Court's active
3. If unforeseen circumstances occur which cause a
failure to carry out timely any requirements of this Agreement,
the State shall notify the United States in writing within 20
calendar days of the time that the State becomes aware of the
unforeseen circumstance and its impact on the State's ability to
perform under the agreement. The notice shall describe the cause
of the failure to perform and the measures taken to prevent or
minimize the failure. Upon receipt of any such notice, the
parties agree to confer. If the United States agrees that delay
in meeting any schedule or obligation in this Agreement has been
caused by unforeseen circumstances, it shall re-negotiate a
deadline for completion of the task.
4. Once the State has determined that it is in substantial
compliance with this agreement or any of its five substantive
areas the State shall notify the United States in writing, by
certified mail, return receipt requested. If the United States
has not provided written objection to such determination within
forty-five (45) days of receipt of said notice, the State will be
deemed to be in substantial compliance with the specified area
beginning on the date of the notice. If the United States
provides written objection to such determination, the parties
shall make good faith efforts to resolve the dispute. One (1)
year from the date the State has reached and maintained
substantial compliance with the terms of the entire agreement,
the parties shall file a joint motion for final dismissal of this
FOR THE STATE OF WYOMING:
/s/ H. M. MacMillan
H. M. "Hoke" MacMillan
State of Wyoming
/s/ Judith Uphoff
Wyoming Department of Corrections
/s/ Vance Everett
Wyoming State Penitentiary
FOR THE UNITED STATES:
/s/ Ralph F. Boyd, Jr.
Ralph F. Boyd, Jr.
Assistant Attorney General
Civil Rights Division
United States Department of Justice
/s/ Matthew H. Mead
Matthew H. Mead
United States Attorney
District of Wyoming
/s/ Steven H. Rosenbaum
Steven H. Rosenbaum
Special Litigation Section
Civil Rights Division
/s/ Andrew J. Barrick
Andrew J. Barrick
Special Litigation Section
Civil Rights Division
1. When the United States initiated its investigation, WSP
consisted of one compound. During the course of the
investigation, the State completed construction of a new
compound. The older compound is referred to as the "North Facility" and the new compound is referred to as the "South Facility." As discussed in Section IX of this settlement agreement, the State has agreed to vacate the North Facility of
WSP until such time as the life safety and other structural
concerns regarding the facility are remedied.