IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE MIDDLE DISTRICT OF GEORGIA
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff
COLUMBUS CONSOLIDATED CITY/COUNTY GOVERNMENT; RALPH JOHNSON, Sheriff of Muscogee County, in his official capacity; BOBBY G. PETERS, Mayor of Columbus, in his official capacity, Defendants
THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff, alleges that:
1. This Complaint is filed by the Attorney General on
behalf of the United States of America pursuant to the Civil
Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act of 1980, 42 U.S.C. § 1997
et seq., to enjoin the named Defendants from depriving persons
incarcerated at the Muscogee County Jail (Jail) in Columbus,
Georgia, of rights, privileges or immunities secured or protected
by the United States Constitution.
JURISDICTION, STANDING, AND VENUE
2. This Court has jurisdiction over this action under 28 U.S.C. § 1345.
3. The United States is authorized to initiate this action
pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1997a.
4. The Attorney General has certified that all pre-filing
requirements specified in 42 U.S.C. § 1997b have been met. The
Certificate of the Attorney General is appended to this Complaint
and is incorporated herein.
5. Venue in the Middle District of Georgia is proper
pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1391. The claims set forth in this
Complaint all arose in said District.
6. Defendant COLUMBUS CONSOLIDATED CITY/COUNTY GOVERNMENT
(Columbus) is a government entity encompassing the City of
Columbus, Georgia and Muscogee County, Georgia. The Muscogee
County Jail (Jail) is a facility located in, operated for, and
owned by Columbus. The existing Jail includes three facilities -
the "new jail" or "tower," the "old jail," and the "stockade."
7. Defendant Ralph Johnson is sued in his official capacity
as the acting Sheriff of Muscogee County. Sheriff Johnson is
responsible for the day-to-day operations of the Jail. In his
official capacity, he has the custody, rule and charge of the
Jail and Jail inmates.
8. Defendant BOBBY G. PETERS is sued in his official
capacity as the Mayor of Columbus. He is the chief executive of
the consolidated government and has the power to submit budgets
to the City Council.
9. Defendants are legally responsible, in whole or in part,
for the operation of the Muscogee County Jail, for its condition,
and for the health and safety of persons detained or incarcerated
within the Jail.
10. At all relevant times, the Defendants or their
predecessors in office have acted or failed to act, as alleged
below, under color of state law.
11. The Muscogee County Jail is an "institution" within the
meaning of 42 U.S.C. § 1997(1).
12. Persons confined in the Muscogee County Jail include
men and women who are pre-trial detainees, misdemeanants, or
felons confined pursuant to Georgia law.
13. The Muscogee County Jail houses more than 800 inmates
in three separate facilities built in the 1890's, 1930's, and
14. The Defendants have failed to protect inmates at the
Muscogee County Jail from physical harm and the risk of harm by,
inter alia, failing to provide adequate security and supervision,
failing to provide adequate inmate housing and classification,
failing to provide adequate staffing and staff training, and
failing to develop and implement appropriate policies and
procedures to safely operate the Jail. Such deficiencies
endanger the health and safety of persons incarcerated or
detained in the Jail.
15. Defendants have failed to provide adequate medical,
dental, and mental health care (including suicide prevention) to
persons confined at the Jail.
16. The Defendants have subjected inmates at the Jail to
unsanitary, unhealthy, and unsafe conditions.
17. The Defendants have failed to protect inmates at the
Muscogee County Jail from undue risk of harm from fires.
18. The Defendants have failed to provide Jail inmates with
adequate access to the courts.
19. The Defendants have failed to provide Muscogee County
Jail inmates with adequate opportunity for exercise.
20. The United States has notified the Defendants of
alleged deficiencies through a letter of official findings dated
June 1, 1995.
21. Despite notice from the United States, recommendations
from the United States, the results of a local grand jury
investigation, actual knowledge of deficiencies, and the
obviousness of deficiencies, the Defendants have violated and
continue to violate the constitutional rights of Muscogee County
22. Defendants' deliberate indifference to the
constitutional rights of Muscogee County Jail inmates has
deprived those inmates of basic life necessities, exposed them to
unsafe and unhealthy conditions, and placed them at undue risk of
23. The acts, practices and omissions of Defendants alleged
in each of paragraphs 13 through 22 violate rights of persons confined at the Muscogee County Jail secured or protected by the Constitution of the United States.
PRAYER FOR RELIEF
24. The Attorney General is authorized under 42 U.S.C. § 1997 to seek equitable relief.
25. Unless restrained by this Court, persons confined at
the Muscogee County Jail will be deprived of rights secured or
protected by the Constitution of the United States.
WHEREFORE, the United States prays that this Court enter an
order permanently enjoining Defendants, their officers, agents,
employees, subordinates, successors in office, and all those
acting in concert or participation with them from continuing the
acts, omissions, and practices set forth herein, and to require
Defendants to take such actions as will provide constitutional
conditions of confinement to persons confined at the Muscogee
County Jail. The United States further prays that this Court
grant such other and further equitable relief as it may deem just
JANET RENO, Attorney General of the United States
BEVERLY MARTIN, United States Attorney, Middle District of Georgia
Post Office Box U
Macon, GA 31202
BILL LANN LEE, Acting Assistant Attorney General, Civil Rights Division
STEVEN H. ROSENBAUM, Chief, Special Litigation Section
MELLIE H. NELSON, Deputy Chief, special Litigation Section
U.S. Department of Justice
Civil Rights Division
Special Litigation Section
Post Office Box 66400
Washington, D.C. 20035