On December 4, 1989, prisoners at the Plumas County Jail filed a class action complaint in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California against the County of Plumas. 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, unequal access for women prisoners, lack of exercise, inadequate access to medical, dental and mental health treatment, lack of law library access, and lack of adequate visiting time and other contact with people in the outside world, and claimed that these problems constituted violations of the First, Fourth, Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments. Plaintiffs sought declaratory and injunctive relief.
The PACER docket begins on September 12, 1990, when the Court (Judge Lawrence K. Karlton) ordered the County not to hold any warrantless arrestee who had not been provided with a determination of probable cause before a judge within 36 hours of his or her arrest.
There are several multiple-month gaps between entries over the following two years, but the principal developments are clear. On January 21, 1992, the Court (Judge John F. Moulds) certified the proposed class of prisoners, and on February 10, the parties submitted a consent decree for the Court's approval. Under the terms of the decree, the County agreed to maintain all housing units at the jail at or below their rated capacities, with an overall capacity of 37; to provide prisoners with sufficient storage space for their personal belongings and with adequate clothing and food; to allow prisoners one hour of exercise per day five days a week; to provide regular access to adequate medical, dental, and mental health care services; to allow visits of at least a half an hour each at least two days per week; to provide women prisoners with equal access to programs and work opportunities and to always have at least one female guard working each shift; to provide prompt physical access to the law library; to provide access to a pay phone, a television and non-legal reading material; and to allow inspection by the fire marshall and comply with any recommendations the fire marshall makes. The County also agreed to develop, implement and make known to the prisoners rules of conduct, a grievance procedure, disciplinary procedures, and visitation policies and procedures. Finally, the County agreed to allow plaintiffs' counsel to make reasonable inspections to ascertain its compliance with the decree.
The Court (Judge Moulds) approved the consent decree on April 21, 1992, and ordered the County to pay the plaintiffs $65,000 in attorneys' fees on June 12, 1992.
Since the decree was entered, several prisoners at the jail, representing themselves, have petitioned the Court for enforcement of the decree, most recently in 2006. Each time, the Court has directed them to contact plaintiffs' counsel to seek enforcement. the results are unknown at the time of this writing.Christopher Schad - 07/11/2012