In 1974, inmates in Jackson County jail filed a class action under section 1983 in an attempt to reform nearly every facet of the conditions of the jail. Ten individual plaintiffs also sought damages for personal injuries. Plaintiffs were represented by counsel from the Lawyer's Committee for ...
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In 1974, inmates in Jackson County jail filed a class action under section 1983 in an attempt to reform nearly every facet of the conditions of the jail. Ten individual plaintiffs also sought damages for personal injuries. Plaintiffs were represented by counsel from the Lawyer's Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. The District Court in the Southern District of Mississippi dismissed as defendants individual members of the Board of Supervisors and denied class certification. Plaintiffs appealed.
On interlocutory appeal, the Fifth Circuit reversed the District Court's decision and remanded the issues of class certification and dismissal of individual board members for a full evidentiary hearing and factual examination. Jones v. Diamond, 519 F.2d 1090 (5th Cir. 1975). On remand, the District Court dismissed the individual claims of Jones, the named plaintiff, with prejudice and, eventually, granted class certification for pretrial detainees and convicts (the court reserved judgment until construction on the new jail ended less than one year later). After a trial on the merits, the District Court denied most of plaintiff's requested relief, granting only a very minimal injunction which required defendants to complete the new jail promptly, to cease receiving persons charged with misdemeanors by any municipalities, to post a list of prisoners rights drafted by the court, and to prevent prisoners from sleeping on a mattress on the floor.
The plaintiff won in very large part before a panel, Jones v. Diamond, 594 F.2d 997 (5th Cir. 1979), but the Fifth Circuit then took the case en banc. The en banc court went even further in plaintiff's favor, and in 1981, the court ordered the District Court to hold evidentiary hearings to determine the capacity of the new and old jail and whether there is reason to deny contact visitation for pretrial detainees. The court also stated that the District Court must issue an injunction commanding the defendants not to engage in racial discrimination, to provide adequate jail supervision, to institute a reasonable classification system, to administer discipline in conformity with Wolff v. McDonnell, 418 U.S. 539 (1974), and to regulate mail in accordance with Guajardo v. Estelle, 580 F.2d 748 (5th Cir. 1978). Jones v. Diamond, 636 F.2d 1364 (5th Cir. 1981) (en banc). The Supreme Court granted a petition for writ of certiorari in 1981 in Ledbetter v. Jones, 452 U.S. 959 (1981), but subsequently dismissed it. 453 U.S. 950 (1981).Kristen Sagar - 06/05/2007