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Case Name DePriest ex rel. C.B. v. Walnut Grove Correctional Authority JI-MS-0007
Docket / Court 3:10-cv-00663-CWR-FKB ( S.D. Miss. )
State/Territory Mississippi
Case Type(s) Juvenile Institution
Attorney Organization ACLU National Prison Project
Case Summary
On November 16, 2010, thirteen boys and young men incarcerated at the Walnut Grove Youth Correctional Facility ("WGYCR") in Leakes County, Mississippi, filed a class action lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Mississippi, against the city entity responsible for operating ... read more >
On November 16, 2010, thirteen boys and young men incarcerated at the Walnut Grove Youth Correctional Facility ("WGYCR") in Leakes County, Mississippi, filed a class action lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Mississippi, against the city entity responsible for operating WGYCR (the Walnut Grove Correctional Authority), the for-profit corporations under contract to manage the facility (GEO Group, Inc.) and provide medical care for the prisoners (Health Assurance, L.L.C.), several officials at WGYCR, and the Mississippi Departments of Corrections and Education. The plaintiffs, represented by the Mississippi Youth Justice Project, the Southern Poverty Law Center, the National Prison Project of the ACLU, and private counsel, challenged what they referred to as the "barbaric, unconstitutional conditions" of confinement at WGYCR.

Plaintiffs alleged that staff and officials at WGYCR (1) instigated or were complicit in prisoner-on-prisoner violence and sexual assaults, (2) dealt and allowed the dealing of drugs within the facility, (3) engaged in sexual misconduct with the prisoners, (4) used excessive force (including chemical restraints) on the prisoners, (5) placed prisoners in punitive isolation with no penological justification, and (6) failed to provide urgently needed medical and mental health care to prisoners, all in violation of the Eight Amendment; and (7) failed to provide education for prisoners of school age and special education for prisoners with disabilities in violation of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, §§ 1400 et seq., Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, 29 U.S.C. § 794, Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act, 42 U.S.C. §§ 12111 et seq., and state law. Plaintiffs sought declaratory and injunctive relief.

Counsel for the plaintiffs had begun investigating the conditions at the WGYCR in 2006, and in fact had already begun settlement negotiations with the defendants prior to filing suit. As the parties were negotiating throughout the course of the action, very little appears on the docket but extensions of deadlines; notably, however, all defendants but the Mississippi Departments of Corrections and Education were released by the plaintiffs on November 15, 2011, with the understanding that the Departments could provide plaintiffs with the complete relief they sought.

Negotiations continued until February 3, 2012, when the parties submitted their proposed settlement agreement to the District Court. The agreement consisted of two consent decrees, one pertaining to present and future prisoners at the WGYCR and one pertaining to all prisoners in the custody of the Mississippi Department of Corrections ("MDOC") who were age 17 or under or who were age 18 or 19 and housed in the Youthful Offender Unit. Under the terms of the first consent decree, MDOC agreed (1) to limit the use of force at WGYCF to that necessary to safely contain prisoners, to get the Warden's approval for the use of force, and to document any use of force with audio-visual recordings and in writing; (2) to limit and document the use of chemical restraints; (3) to limit the use of long-term cell confinement and isolation to certain specific circumstances; (4) to guarantee disciplinary due process and an create an adequate grievance procedure; (5) to implement an adequate and humane suicide prevention policy; and (6) to provide "adequate, appropriate, and timely" medical, dental and mental health care. The decree also arranged for the appointment of monitors to work with MDOC to create appropriate policies and enforce compliance, and gave the monitors and plaintiffs' counsel complete access to the WGYCF facility and records. If plaintiffs believed defendants were not in compliance with the decree, they could seek enforcement by the Court after fulfilling notice and cure requirements, and no class member was barred by the decree from bringing individual suit against the defendants. The decree was to last for five years, but could end sooner if the Court found the WGYCF had been in compliance for two years and could be extended up to two years if the Court found that MDOC had failed to substantially comply.

The second consent decree arranged for the creation of a Youthful Offender Unit ("YOU") at the Central Mississippi Correctional Facility to house all prisoners age 17 or under who are in MDOC custody, and certain prisoners age 18 and 19. That tis, the WGYCF will no longer house youth who are ages 17 and under. The terms for YOU are similar to those for WGYCF, with the notable differences that solitary confinement is prohibited entirely, a focus is placed on rehabilitative programming, and a visitation policy is specifically addressed.

After fairness hearings on March 22, 2012, the District Court (Judge Carlton W. Reeves) granted final approval for the consent decrees on March 26 and certified the two classes for the purpose of the settlements.

On May 29, 2012, the Court held an emergency hearing, requested by plaintiffs in light of two incidents, a rape and a stabbing, that had occurred after the consent decrees went into effect. The parties agreed that defendants would alert plaintiffs' counsel if there were any further incidents of violence at the facility, and that they would work together to keep further incidents from occurring as the consent decrees took effect and changed began to be made.

As of November 18, 2014, monitoring is ongoing in accordance with the consent decree.

Christopher Schad - 07/17/2012
Richard Jolly - 11/18/2014


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Constitutional Clause
Cruel and Unusual Punishment
Content of Injunction
Develop anti-discrimination policy
Implement complaint/dispute resolution process
Monitor/Master
Recordkeeping
Defendant-type
Jurisdiction-wide
General
Assault/abuse by residents/inmates/students
Assault/abuse by staff
Conditions of confinement
Confinement/isolation
Disciplinary segregation
Education
Excessive force
Failure to discipline
Failure to supervise
Failure to train
Grievance Procedures
Juveniles
Parents (visitation, involvement)
Protective custody
Record-keeping
Records Disclosure
Restraints : chemical
Sex w/ staff; sexual harassment by staff
Sexual abuse by residents/inmates
Special education
Staff (number, training, qualifications, wages)
Strip search policy
Suicide prevention
Unconstitutional conditions of confinement
Visiting
Medical/Mental Health
Dental care
Intellectual/Developmental Disability
Medical care, general
Mental health care, general
Suicide prevention
Untreated pain
Wound care
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Type of Facility
Non-government for profit
Causes of Action State law
Section 504 (Rehabilitation Act), 29 U.S.C. § 701
Indv. w/ Disab. Educ. Act (IDEA), Educ. of All Handcpd. Children Act , 20 U.S.C. § 1400
Declaratory Judgment Act, 28 U.S.C. § 2201
Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), 42 U.S.C. §§ 12111 et seq.
42 U.S.C. § 1983
Defendant(s) Geo Group, Inc.
Health Assurance, L.L.C.
The State of Mississippi
The State of Mississippi
Walnut Grove Correctional Authority
Plaintiff Description All present and future prisoners at the Walnut Grove Youth Correctional Facility, all male prisoners age 17 or younger in the custody of the Mississippi Department of Corrections, and all male prisoners age 18 or 19 who will be housed in the Youthful Offender Unit
Indexed Lawyer Organizations ACLU National Prison Project
Class action status sought Yes
Class action status granted Yes
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement
Source of Relief Settlement
Form of Settlement Court Approved Settlement or Consent Decree
Order Duration 2012 - 2017
Case Closing Year 2012
Case Ongoing Yes
Docket(s)
3:10-cv-00663-CWR-FKB (S.D. Miss.) 11/07/2014
JI-MS-0007-9000 PDF | Detail
PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Complaint 11/16/2010
JI-MS-0007-0001 PDF | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Notice of Dismissal 11/15/2011
JI-MS-0007-0008 PDF | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Investigation of the Walnut Grove Youth Correctional Facility [by the] U.S. Department of Justice Civil Rights Division 03/20/2012
JI-MS-0007-0002 PDF | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Plaintiffs' Notice of Findings of the United States' Investigation of the Walnut Grove Youth Correctional Facility 03/21/2012
JI-MS-0007-0007 PDF | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Consent Decree [Pertaining to All Present and Future Prisoners at the Walnut Grove Youth Correctional Facility] 03/26/2012
JI-MS-0007-0003 PDF | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Consent Decree [Pertaining to All Male Youth Age 17 or Under Who Are in the Custody of the Mississippi Department of Corrections] 03/26/2012
JI-MS-0007-0004 PDF | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order Approving Settlement 03/26/2012 (S.D. Miss.)
JI-MS-0007-0005 PDF | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order Approving Settlement 03/26/2012 (S.D. Miss.)
JI-MS-0007-0009 PDF | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
[Transcript of Emergency] Hearing 05/29/2012
JI-MS-0007-0006 PDF | Detail
Judges Ball, F. Keith (S.D. Miss.) [Magistrate]
JI-MS-0007-9000
Reeves, Carlton Wayne (S.D. Miss.)
JI-MS-0007-0003 | JI-MS-0007-0004 | JI-MS-0007-0005 | JI-MS-0007-0006 | JI-MS-0007-0009 | JI-MS-0007-9000
Monitors/Masters None on record
Plaintiff's Lawyers Bedi, Sheila A. (Mississippi)
JI-MS-0007-0001 | JI-MS-0007-0003 | JI-MS-0007-0004 | JI-MS-0007-0007 | JI-MS-0007-0008 | JI-MS-0007-9000
Carroll, Vanessa (Mississippi)
JI-MS-0007-9000
Chartoff, Marion D. (Alabama)
JI-MS-0007-0001
Eichelberger, Jennie S.H. (Mississippi)
JI-MS-0007-9000
Howard, Jacob W. (Mississippi)
JI-MS-0007-9000
Johnson, Jadine (Alabama)
JI-MS-0007-0001
McDuff, Robert B. (Mississippi)
JI-MS-0007-0001 | JI-MS-0007-0003 | JI-MS-0007-0004 | JI-MS-0007-0006 | JI-MS-0007-0008 | JI-MS-0007-9000
Nong, Dominique (Alabama)
JI-MS-0007-0001
Owens, Jody E. II (Mississippi)
JI-MS-0007-0006 | JI-MS-0007-9000
Winter, Margaret (District of Columbia)
JI-MS-0007-0001 | JI-MS-0007-0003 | JI-MS-0007-0004 | JI-MS-0007-0008 | JI-MS-0007-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Friedman, Gary E. (Mississippi)
JI-MS-0007-9000
Johnson, Walter T. (Mississippi)
JI-MS-0007-9000
Matheny, Justin L. (Mississippi)
JI-MS-0007-0006 | JI-MS-0007-9000
Minor, Wilson D. (Mississippi)
JI-MS-0007-0006 | JI-MS-0007-9000
Pedersen, Robert H. (Mississippi)
JI-MS-0007-9000
Pizzetta, Harold Edward III (Mississippi)
JI-MS-0007-9000
Thaggard, Lee (Mississippi)
JI-MS-0007-9000
Other Lawyers None on record

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