University of Michigan Law School
Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse
new search
page permalink
Case Name State of Connecticut v. Jessamy PC-CT-0016
Docket / Court HHD-CV-03-0822418-S ( State Court )
State/Territory Connecticut
Case Type(s) Prison Conditions
Case Summary
In 2003, the Attorney General of the State of Connecticut filed suit in state court against a group of eight current and former female inmates of the maximum-security York Correctional Institution in Niantic, Connecticut, seeking to recover the cost of their incarceration. The women had ... read more >
In 2003, the Attorney General of the State of Connecticut filed suit in state court against a group of eight current and former female inmates of the maximum-security York Correctional Institution in Niantic, Connecticut, seeking to recover the cost of their incarceration. The women had participated in a prison writing workshop, and with the help of their teacher and bestselling novelist Wally Lamb, published a collection of essays titled "Couldn't Keep It To Myself: Testimonies From Our Imprisoned Sisters." The book was published by HarperCollins. The lawsuit was filed after state officials learned that the inmates received a portion of the sale proceeds.

For more than a year, the inmates' attorney, Wally Lamb, and lawyers for Harper Collins tried unsuccessfully to get the Attorney General to drop the suit or settle it. Eventually the literary organization PEN, which champions the causes of persecuted writers around the world, became involved. PEN awarded one of the still imprisoned plaintiffs a major award sponsored by A.E. Hotchner and Paul Newman, which was accompanied by a $25,000 prize. When prison officials found out about the award, they suspended the writing program, seized all computer discs and erased writing program materials from the hard drives of the prison's computers.

Reports with the CBS investigative news program 60 Minutes attempted to contact prison officials and the Attorney General about their seemingly retaliatory conduct. Under the apparent pressure from the news media, the Attorney General agreed to settle the lawsuit for payment of $500 by each of the eight women writers, for a total of $4,000. Under the settlement, $3,500 of the money was to go to the writing program at York Correctional Institute, which the state agreed to fully restore. The remaining $500 was to go to the state Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services.

Dan Dalton - 11/20/2007


compress summary

- click to show/hide ALL -
Issues and Causes of Action
click to show/hide detail
Issues
Affected Gender
Female
Plaintiff Type
State Plaintiff
Type of Facility
Government-run
Causes of Action State law
Defendant(s) Eight female prisoners
Plaintiff Description Attorney General, State of Connecticut
Indexed Lawyer Organizations None on record
Class action status sought No
Class action status granted No
Prevailing Party Mixed
Public Int. Lawyer No
Nature of Relief Damages
Source of Relief Settlement
Form of Settlement Private Settlement Agreement
Order Duration not on record
Case Closing Year 2005
Case Ongoing No
Additional Resources
click to show/hide detail
Case Studies Civil Rights Injunctions Over Time: A Case Study of Jail and Prison Court Orders
N.Y.U. Law Review
By: Margo Schlanger (Washington University)
Citation: 81 N.Y.U. L. Rev. 550 (2006)
[ Detail ] [ PDF ] [ External Link ]

  Judicial Policy Making and the Modern State: How the Courts Reformed America's Prisons
By: Malcolm M. Feeley & Edward Rubin (UC Berkeley Boalt Hall School of Law & Vanderbilt School of Law Faculty)
Citation: (1998)
[ Detail ]

Docket(s)
No docket sheet currently in the collection
General Documents
Press Release 04/19/2004
PC-CT-0016-0001 PDF | Detail
Judges None on record
Monitors/Masters None on record
Plaintiff's Lawyers None on record
Defendant's Lawyers None on record
Other Lawyers None on record

- click to show/hide ALL -

new search
page permalink

- top of page -