Cripa Activities In Fy 1999

I. Introduction and Overview

The Attorney General has authority to investigate conditions in public residential facilities (1) and to take appropriate action if a pattern or practice of unlawful conditions deprive persons confined in the facilities of their constitutional or federal statutory rights pursuant to the Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act (CRIPA), 42 U.S.C. ァァ 1997- 1997j . Protecting the rights of institutionalized persons is an important part of the Department's civil rights law enforcement effort. From May 1980, when CRIPA was enacted, through September 1999, the Department investigated conditions in 335 jails, prisons, juvenile correctional facilities, mental retardation and mental health facilities, and nursing homes. As a result of the Department's CRIPA enforcement, tens of thousands of institutionalized persons who were living in dire, often life-threatening, conditions now receive adequate care and services.

The Attorney General has delegated day-to-day responsibility for CRIPA activities to the Special Litigation Section of the Civil Rights Division. During fiscal year 1999, the Section was active in CRIPA matters and cases involving more than 190 facilities in 33 states and the District of Columbia, as well as the Commonwealths of Puerto Rico and the Northern Mariana Islands, and the Territories of Guam and the

Virgin Islands. (2) The Section initiated investigations of six facilities, continued its investigations of 58 additional facilities, and monitored the implementation of consent decrees, settlement agreements, and other court orders involving 121 facilities. The Attorney General filed seven CRIPA suits during the fiscal year. (3) Six of these suits were settled during the fiscal year. Discovery proceeded throughout the fiscal year in the seventh suit. In addition, the Section settled three CRIPA cases filed in FY 1997, involving seven institutional facilities. During fiscal year 1999, the Section closed investigations of four facilities and joined with defendants to dismiss seven cases involving fifteen facilities.

In keeping with the statutory requirements of CRIPA and the Attorney General's initiative, the Section engaged in negotiations and conciliation efforts to resolve a number of CRIPA matters both before and after filing CRIPA cases. The Section maximized its impact and increased its efficiency by continuing to focus on multi-facility investigations and cases, obtaining widespread relief whenever possible.

II. Filing of CRIPA Complaints/ Resolution of Lawsuits

In six CRIPA cases filed during fiscal year 1999, involving 16 facilities, the parties filed settlement agreements at the same time that the complaints were filed.

In a seventh case filed during the fiscal year, involving four facilities, we conducted discovery and then began intensive settlement negotiations that reached fruition in fiscal year 2000. In addition, we settled three outstanding CRIPA cases, involving seven facilities. In sum, we settled nine CRIPA cases, involving 23 facilities, during fiscal year 1999.

A. Cases Filed

1. On November 5, 1998, the Department filed a complaint in United States v. Louisiana (M.D. La.) concerning conditions of confinement in four juvenile detention facilities throughout the state of Louisiana. The complaint alleges that the defendants provide inadequate medical, dental and mental health care; unsafe conditions by subjecting juveniles to substantial risk of harm from juvenile-on-juvenile assaults, excessive force and abuse by staff; inadequate suicide prevention measures; unreasonable isolation and restraints; inadequate rehabilitative services; inadequate general, special and vocational educational services; and deny qualified juveniles with disabilities the benefits of the services, programs and activities of the secure juvenile facilities. The parties conducted discovery in the form of expert evaluation tours, document analysis and depositions until April 1999, when the parties agreed to stay discovery in order to pursue settlement negotiations. These negotiations were ultimately successful. The Department filed an interim settlement agreement resolving our education claims on November 1, 1999, and a comprehensive settlement agreement addressing all of the remaining claims on September 7, 2000. The comprehensive agreement resolved claims concerning medical care, dental care, mental health treatment, and juvenile justice issues including protection from abuse and violence as well as the use of chemical agents and mechanical restraints.

2. On December 22, 1998, the Department filed a complaint in United States v. Gila County, Arizona (D. Ariz.) concerning conditions of confinement at the Gila County Jail in Globe, Arizona. The complaint alleges that defendants fail to protect inmates from undue risk of harm by, inter alia, failing to provide adequate supervision, adequate inmate classification, adequate medical and mental health care, reasonable amounts of exercise, and adequate environmental health and fire safety. The settlement agreement, filed with the complaint, provides for adequate staffing, security and supervision, inmate classification, and inmate exercise. In addition, the settlement provides for implementation of adequate suicide prevention policies and procedures as well as improved medical care and mental health services. The Department is monitoring compliance with the terms of this agreement.

3. On February 23, 1999, the Department filed a complaint and consent decree in United States v. Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (D. N.M.I.) concerning one prison, four jails and one juvenile facility. The complaint alleges that defendants deny inmates reasonable protection from harm by providing inadequate supervision and security, inadequate inmate classification, inadequate medical and mental health services, and that defendants fail to ensure adequate environmental and fire safety. Under the consent decree, the Commonwealth will promulgate new policies and procedures to ensure safety; create a classification system to segregate dangerous and vulnerable inmates; train staff in proper correctional practices; provide medical screening and services; and ensure adequate fire and environmental safety. In addition, the consent decree requires defendants to provide appropriate staff training regarding communicable diseases to alleviate problems caused by the high incidence of tuberculosis among the inmate population. The Department is monitoring compliance with the consent decree.

4. On April 21, 1999, the Department filed a complaint and interim settlement agreement in United States v. Commonwealth of Puerto Rico (D. P.R.). The complaint alleges that defendants fail to provide to residents of six Commonwealth facilities for persons with mental retardation adequate basic care including food, housing, medical supplies; reasonable safety and protection from harm; freedom from undue restraint; adequate medical, nursing, mental health, psychology and behavioral services; and adequate numbers of appropriately trained staff. The complaint also alleges that the Commonwealth fails to provide physically disabled residents with needed adaptive equipment. The settlement provides that the Commonwealth will upgrade conditions at the facilities to ensure that the residents are free from abuse and neglect, and that they receive adequate care and treatment. Specifically, the settlement requires defendants to: provide adequate food, medications, clothing, and shelter; ensure that residents are properly bathed; provide adequate direct care staffing; ensure that restraints are used only pursuant to accepted professional standards; and provide adequate medical and mental health services. The settlement also requires the Commonwealth to develop a community based service plan and submit it to the United States for approval. We are monitoring compliance with the terms of this settlement.

5. On May 6, 1999, the Department filed a complaint and settlement agreement in United States v. Commonwealth of Virginia (E.D. Va.) concerning the conditions and services provided at Central State Hospital in Dinwiddie County, Virginia. The complaint alleges that defendants deny the residents of this mental health facility reasonable safety, adequate medical and mental health services, freedom from harm and undue restraint, proper medication administration, and appropriate treatment and training services. The settlement agreement requires defendants to improve medical and mental health services, limit the use of seclusion and restraint of patients, and provide adequate numbers of trained staff. In addition, Central State Hospital residents will be evaluated by appropriate professionals for placement in the most integrated setting, and be placed according to their individual needs.

6. On May 28, 1999, the Department filed a complaint and settlement agreement in United States v. New Mexico (D. N. Mex.) concerning conditions at the New Mexico School for the Visually Handicapped in Alamagordo, New Mexico, which is a state school for the education of blind and visually impaired students, aged five to 21 years. The complaint alleges that defendants fail to provide adequate Braille education; adequate mental health care; adequate protection from harm through appropriate mechanisms to respond to allegations of abuse and neglect; and appropriate determinations regarding the necessity for residential placement of students at this facility. The agreement requires the School to take immediate steps to upgrade its instructional program for visually impaired children, including providing Braille instruction as well as orientation and mobility training, improve mental health, behavioral, and substance abuse services to students, and commission a study to determine whether students at the school, as well as other blind or visually impaired students in New Mexico, can be educated appropriately in their local public schools. The Department is monitoring the state's compliance with the agreement.

7. On September 23, 1999, the Department filed a complaint and settlement agreement in United States v. Columbus Consolidated City/County Government (M.D. Ga.) regarding the Muscogee County Jail in Columbus, Georgia. The complaint alleges that defendants fail to protect inmates from harm by failing to provide adequate supervision and security; adequate inmate housing and classification; adequate staffing and staff training; appropriate policies and procedures to operate the jail; adequate medical, dental and mental health care; sanitary conditions of confinement; and adequate fire safety. The settlement agreement requires defendants to renovate or replace dilapidated housing units, improve staffing and staff training, create policies and procedures to ensure safe supervision of inmates, provide more timely medical and mental health care, and improve the food service operation. The Department is reviewing progress made by defendants in complying with the agreement.

B. Settlements in Cases Filed in Prior Fiscal Years

1. In United States v. Commonwealth of Virginia (E.D. Va.), we filed a modification to the settlement agreement on December 22, 1998, which revised the original agreement in the areas of medical care, suicide prevention, special observation and community placement of persons residing at the Northern Virginia Mental Health Institute in Fairfax, Virginia.

2. On March 11, 1999, we filed a settlement agreement in United States v. Arizona ( D. Ariz.) concerning sexual misconduct and invasions of privacy in four of Arizona's women's prisons. The agreement provides for revised employee training and inmate training regarding sexual misconduct and privacy rights; improved investigative techniques for alleged misconduct; created a new position of Female Programs Administrator to review allegations of sexual misconduct and invasions of privacy; and implemented a new policy to require supervisors to be aware when staff are alone with inmates. The agreement also requires that inmates be offered psychological services if they have been subject to misconduct incidents; and the establishment of a quality assurance program to monitor the quality of compliance with the agreement.

3. On May 25, 1999, the Section filed a Settlement agreement in United States v. State of Michigan (E.D. Mich.), which includes a wide range of measures designed to minimize and address sexual misconduct and invasions of privacy at Scott and Crane Correctional Facilities. Among the provisions in the settlement agreement are requirements for improved medical and mental health services; better screening of potential employees; an inmate education program to address issues of sexual misconduct and privacy rights; strengthening of investigative techniques; an affirmative offer of psychological services to all inmates alleged to have been subject to serious sexual misconduct; creation of a Special Administrator position to address female offender issues; and the establishment of a quality assurance program to monitor compliance.

III. Compliance Evaluations

During fiscal year 1999, the Special Litigation Section monitored defendants' compliance with CRIPA consent decrees, settlement agreements, and other court orders designed to remedy unlawful conditions in 121 publicly operated facilities throughout the United States. (4) These facilities are:

1. Mental retardation facilities: Southbury Training School (United States v. Connecticut (D. Conn.)); Fairview Training Center (United States v. Oregon (D. Or.)); Embreeville Center (United States v. Pennsylvania (E.D. Pa.)); (5) Arlington Developmental Center (United States v. Tennessee (W.D. Tenn.)); Clover Bottom Developmental Center, Greene Valley Developmental Center, and Harold Jordan Center United States v. Tennessee (M.D. Tenn.)); Southern Wisconsin Developmental Center and Central Developmental Center (United States v. Wisconsin (W.D. Wis.)); and Center for Integral Services, Centro de Servicios Multiples de Camaseyes, Hogar de Grupo Las Mesas, Facilidad de Cuidado Intermedio, Centro de Reeducacion para Adultos, Centro de Servicios Multiples Rosario Bellber, (United States v. Commonwealth of Puerto Rico (D. P. R.)).

2. Mental health facilities: Hawaii State Hospital and children and adolescent residential services at Castle Medical Center and Kahi Mohala (United States v. Hawaii (D. Haw.)); Guam Adult Mental Health Unit (United States v. Guam (D. Guam)); Pilgrim Psychiatric Center (United States v. New York (E.D. N.Y.)); Memphis Mental Health Institute (United States v. Tennessee (W.D. Tenn.)); Northern Virginia Mental Health Institute (United States v. Commonwealth of Virginia (E.D. Va.)); and Central State Hospital (United States v. Commonwealth of Virginia (E.D. Va.)).

3. Nursing homes: Philadelphia Nursing Home (United States v. City of Philadelphia (E.D. Pa.)).

4. Juvenile correctional facilities: Thirty two juvenile correctional facilities in Georgia (United States v. State of Georgia (N.D. Ga.)); 13 Kentucky juvenile correctional facilities (United States v. Kentucky (W.D. Ky.)); Essex County Youth House (United States v. Essex County (D. N. J.)); 20 Puerto Rican juvenile correctional facilities (United States v. Puerto Rico (D. P. R.)); Jena Juvenile Justice Center (Williams and United States v. Stalder (M.D. La.)); and Kagman Youth Facility (United States v. Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (D. N.M.I.)).

5. Jails: Crittenden County Jail (United States v. Crittenden County (E.D. Ark.)); Clay County Jail (United States v. Clay County, Georgia (M.D. Ga.)); Dooly County Jail (United States v. Dooly County, Georgia (S.D. Ga.)); Hagatna Detention Center (United States v. Guam (D. Guam)); Grenada County Jail (United States v. Grenada County (N.D. Miss.)); Tupelo City Jail (United States v. Tupelo City (N.D. Miss.)); Forest City Jail (United States v. Forest City (S.D. Miss.)); Harrison County Jail (United States v. Harrison County (S.D. Miss.)); Scott County Jail (United States v. Scott County (S.D. Miss.)); Simpson County Jail (Rainier and United States v. Jones (S.D. Miss.)); Sunflower County Jail (United States v. Sunflower County (S.D. Miss.)); Gila County Jail (United States v. Gila County, Arizona (D. Ariz.), four jails in Northern Mariana Islands (United States v. Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (D. N.M.I.)); and Muscogee County Jail (United States v. Columbus Consolidated City/County Government ( M.D. Ga.)).

6. Prisons: Guam Adult Correctional Facility (United States v. Guam (D. Guam)); Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola (Williams and United States v. Stalder (E. D. La.)); Montana State Prison (United States v. Montana (D. Mont.)); Golden Grove Adult Correctional Institution (United States v. Virgin Islands (D. V. I.)); Saipan Prison Complex (United States v. Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (D. N.M.I.)); four Arizona Prisons for women (United States v. Arizona (D. Ariz.)); and Crane Correctional Facility and Scott Correctional Facility (United States v. Michigan (E.D. Mich.)).

7. Other facilities: New Mexico School for the Visually Handicapped (United States v. New Mexico (D. N. Mex.)).

IV. Enforcement Activities

The Department took enforcement action during the fiscal year where state and local officials failed to meet their legal obligations under consent decrees and other court orders in CRIPA cases to improve conditions of confinement.

On June 29, 1999, the court in United States v. Tennessee (W.D. Tenn.) found Defendants in contempt of court for failing to enforce multiple prior orders to remedy conditions in state mental retardation programs. The parties later submitted an agreed order that was entered by the court, which provided for new home and community based waiver to be submitted to the Health Care Financing Administration, and improved community services and advocacy supports.

V. Prison Litigation Reform Act

The Prison Litigation Reform Act (PLRA), 18 U.S.C. ァ 3626, which was enacted on April 26, 1996, covers prospective relief in prisons, jails, and juvenile correctional facilities. The Department has defended the constitutionality of the PLRA and has incorporated the PLRA's requirements in its CRIPA activities. The Special Litigation Section has applied the PLRA requirements to the new remedies it seeks. In addition, the Section evaluated all on-going CRIPA investigations, as well as all consent decrees and litigated orders in its active cases, in light of the statute. On May 6, 1999, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals found the automatic stay provision of the Prison Litigation Reform Act, 18 U.S.C. 626(e), to be unconstitutional in French and United States v. Duckworth, 178 F. 3d 437 (7th Cir.1999). A petition for writ of certiorari was filed shortly after the end of fiscal year 1999. The Supreme Court granted certiorari, the United States defended the constitutionality of the statute, and the Supreme Court found the automatic stay provision constitutional, 120 S. Ct. 2246 (2000).

VI. Termination of CRIPA Consent Decrees and Partial Dismissals of Complaints

When jurisdictions comply with settlement requirements and correct unlawful conditions in the institution, the Section joins defendants in a motion to dismiss the underlying action. During fiscal year 1999, the Department joined with defendants to seek dismissal or partial dismissal of eight cases covering fifteen facilities. On February 3, 1999, the court granted a joint motion for dismissal of United States v. Michigan (W.D. Mich.) which ended litigation involving eight men's prisons in Michigan. On February 8, 1999, the court granted a joint motion to dismiss United States v. Alcorn County, Mississippi (N.D. Miss.) regarding Alcorn County Jail. On March 25, 1999, the court for the Eastern District of Virginia granted the joint motion of parties to dismiss United States v. Commonwealth of Virginia (E.D. Va.) and terminated the case against Eastern State Hospital and Hancock Geriatric Center. On March 26, 1999, the court granted a joint motion to dismiss Williams and United States v. Stalder (E.D. La.) concerning Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola. On March 30, 1999, the court dismissed United States v. State of Mississippi (S.D. Miss.) regarding conditions at Boswell Regional Center for persons with developmental disabilities. On June 15, 1999, the court granted the joint motion to dismiss United States v. Forest County, Mississippi (S.D. Miss.) concerning the Forest County Jail. Finally, on September 8, 1999, the Southern District of Mississippi dismissed United States v. Scott County, Mississippi (S.D. Miss.), regarding conditions in the county jail.

In addition, partial dismissal of United States v. Michigan (E.D. Mich.) occurred on November 5, 1998, when the court dismissed from the case issues regarding mental health care of women inmates in Scott and Crane Correctional Facilities.

VII. Responsiveness to Allegations of Illegal Conditions

During fiscal year 1999, the Special Litigation Section reviewed allegations of unlawful conditions of confinement in public facilities from a number of sources, including individuals who live at the facilities and their relatives, staff and ex-staff of facilities, advocates, concerned citizens, media reports, and referrals from within the Department and other federal agencies. The Section received approximately 9300 incoming citizen letters and 400 incoming telephone complaints during the fiscal year. The majority of these citizen contacts related to CRIPA complaints. In addition, the Division responded to 21 CRIPA-related inquiries from Congress.

The Section prioritized these allegations by focusing on facilities where allegations revealed systemic, serious deficiencies. In particular, with regard to mental health and mental retardation facilities and nursing homes, the Section focused on allegations of abuse and neglect; inadequate medical care, mental health treatment, and habilitation; misuse of restraint and seclusion; and failure to serve institutionalized persons in the most integrated setting appropriate to meet their needs as required by Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act and its regulations, 42 U.S. C. ァァ 12132 et seq.; 28 C.F.R. ァ 35.130(d). With regard to juvenile correctional facilities, the Section focused on allegations of abuse, inadequate mental health and medical care, and failure to provide adequate rehabilitation and education, including special education services. In jails and prisons, the Section placed emphasis on allegations of abuse, inadequate medical care and psychiatric services, and grossly unsanitary and other unsafe conditions.

VIII. New CRIPA Investigations

The Department initiated CRIPA investigations of six institutions during the fiscal year. These new investigations involved the following facilities:

  • McCracken County Regional Jail, Paducah, Kentucky;
  • Jackson County Correctional Facility, Marianna, Florida;
  • Woodward State Hospital & School, Woodward, Iowa;
  • Glenwood State Hospital & School, Glenwood, Iowa;
  • Nassau County Correctional Facility, East Meadow, New York;
  • Bradley County Health Care & Rehabilitation Facility, Cleveland, Tennessee.

IX. Findings Letters

The Department issued written findings of the results of its investigations, pursuant to Section 4 of CRIPA, 42 U.S.C. ァ 1997b, regarding nine facilities:

  • Guam Adult Correctional Facility and Hagatna Detention Facility, Agana, Guam;
  • Black Hawk County Jail, Waterloo, Iowa;
  • Clark County Detention Center, Las Vegas, Nevada;
  • Fort Wayne State Developmental Center, Ft. Wayne, Indiana and Muscatatuck State Developmental Center, Bulterville, Indiana;
  • Rainier Residential Rehabilitation Center, Buckley, Washington and Frances Haddon Morgan Center, Bremerton, Washington;
  • Wyoming State Penitentiary, Rawlins, Wyoming.

X. Investigation Closures

During the fiscal year, the Section closed investigations involving three facilities based on their voluntary correction of unlawful conditions: Orleans County Jail, Albion, New York; Washington County Detention Center, Hagerstown, Maryland; and Lakin State Hospital, Lakin, West Virginia. In addition, the investigation of Mercer County Detention Center, Trenton, New Jersey was terminated after the facility closed.

XI. Technical Assistance

Where federal financial, technical, or other assistance is available to help jurisdictions correct deficiencies, the Department advises responsible public officials of the availability of such aid and arranges for assistance, where appropriate. As a result of the Department's involvement, the National Institute of Corrections performed a facility review of Morgan County Jail, Wartburg, Tennessee, in order to provide the Jail with technical assistance related to the physical plant concerns which were identified by the CRIPA investigation. In our investigation regarding Black Hawk County Jail in Waterloo, Iowa, technical assistance was provided in the form of an architectural survey by a Bureau Of Prisons architect who evaluated issues of inmate security and safety, particularly suicide prevention. At Greenville County Jail, Greenville, South Carolina, the National Institute of Corrections provided staff training in classification. Additionally, the National Institute of Corrections is assisting the prison and jails in the Northern Mariana Islands with information to implement the consent decree governing conditions of confinement at the facilities. The technical assistance has included training in inmate classification, security, fire safety and facility design. Even after the dismissal of the case involving Talladega County Jail in Alabama, the Department continues to provide technical assistance through referrals to the National Jail Center, an arm of the National Institute of Corrections. In United States v. Tennessee (W.D. Tenn.), technical assistance was provided to state officials through arrangement of meetings with the Health Care Financing Administration to develop home and community based waivers.

1. Institutions covered by CRIPA include nursing homes, mental health facilities, mental retardation facilities, residential schools for children with disabilities, jails, prisons, and juvenile correctional facilities.

2. Fiscal year 1999 began on October 1, 1998, and ended on September 30, 1999. This report is submitted to Congress to supplement the Attorney General's report on Fiscal Year 1999 Department activities by providing additional details about CRIPA actions during the fiscal year pursuant to 42 U.S.C. ァ 1997f.

3. In FY 1999, in addition to new actions under CRIPA, two cases were expanded to cover additional facilities: two juvenile facilities in Georgia were opened and came under the jurisdiction of the settlement in United States v. Georgia (N.D. Ga.), and a new juvenile facility in Louisiana was officially investigated as part of Williams and United States v. Stalder (E.D. La.).

4. As noted on page 12, supra, the Department joined with defendants to seek full or partial dismissal of eight cases covering seventeen facilities.

5. Embreeville Center closed during the prior fiscal year but , under the terms of the consent decree, the Section continues to monitor conditions in community placements from the facility.

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Updated August 6, 2015

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