On March 12, 1991, prisoners at two Sacramento County jails filed a class action complaint in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California against the County of Sacramento. The plaintiffs, represented by the Prisoner Rights Union and by private counsel, brought suit under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, challenging the constitutionality of their conditions of confinement. Specifically, they alleged problems with overcrowding, failure to provide beds, unequal access for women prisoners, lack of exercise, inadequate access to medical, dental and mental health treatment, and lack of law library access. Plaintiffs sought declaratory and injunctive relief.
On April 5, 1991, the Court (Judge William B. Shubb) granted a preliminary injunction prohibiting the County from sleeping inmates on the floor. The Court (Judge Gregory G. Hollows) partially granted a subsequent motion for a preliminary injunction on June 3, and denied a third motion on August 16. (The substance of the injunction requested in each motion is unclear from the docket.) It mostly denied a fourth motion, in which plaintiffs sought an order compelling the County to give them physical access to the jail law library, on November 20, 1991, but did order the County to post a list of available law materials in the jail's dayrooms. Kaiser v. Cnty. of Sacramento
, 780 F. Supp. 1309 (E.D. Cal. 1991).
On December 6, 1991, the Court (Judge Hollows) denied a motion to dismiss by the County and granted a motion by the plaintiffs to certify the case as a class action.
Discovery continued over the course of the following year, with the Court compelling the County to disclose documents and respond to other discovery requests on several occasions and granting an interim award of attorneys' fees and costs to plaintiffs.
On November 17, 1992, plaintiffs requested a settlement conference, and the parties began to work on a settlement with the help of Magistrate Judge John F. Moulds. Discovery disputes continued, and defendants filed a motion for partial summary judgment on December 14. They filed an additional motion for summary judgment on the issue of opportunity to exercise on December 22.
On January 28, 1993, the Court (Judge Hollows) approved a proposed consent decree. Under the terms of the decree, the County agreed that it would not house more than 2,000 prisoners in the main jail, that it would maintain its law library and allow access on reasonable notice, that it would assign female prisoners to the main jail as workers on a voluntary basis only, and that it would provide regular access to medical and dental care and regular opportunities to exercise. The County also agreed to pay $140,000 in attorneys' fees.
The Court entered final judgment on March 3, 1993.
On July 15, 1998, the County moved to terminate or amend the consent decree. The parties agreed to an amendment, the content of which is unclear from the docket, on August 31, 1998.
The County moved again to amend the consent decree on October 17, 2008, seeking to replace the law library with a contracted legal research service and to allow psychiatric patients to be housed at one of the facilities covered by the decree. The Court (Judge Hollows) granted the motion as to the housing of psychiatric patients on October 27, 2009.Christopher Schad - 07/10/2012