University of Michigan Law School
Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse
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Case Name CRIPA Investigation, Mercer County (NJ) JC-NJ-0002
Docket / Court docket unknown ( No Court )
State/Territory New Jersey
Case Type(s) Jail Conditions
Attorney Organization U.S. Dept. of Justice Civil Rights Division
Case Summary
On May 1, 1996, the Department of Justice sent a letter to County Administrator of Mercer County New Jersey stating its intent to investigate the conditions at the Mercer County Detention center as authorized by the Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act, 42 U.S.C. § 1997 et seq. The ... read more >
On May 1, 1996, the Department of Justice sent a letter to County Administrator of Mercer County New Jersey stating its intent to investigate the conditions at the Mercer County Detention center as authorized by the Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act, 42 U.S.C. § 1997 et seq. The letter noted that the investigation would focus on, but would not be limited to allegations regarding inadequate medical care, environmental health and safety, and an unacceptably high risk of violence.

At the conclusion of the investigation, the Department approved a findings letter on July 25, 1997. The memorandum accompanying the letter indicated that the county had been uncooperative in the investigation by continually denying access to documents and prisoners. Nevertheless, the Department was able to conduct an investigation using other sources, including newspaper articles and the complaints of inmates and their families.

On August 11, 1997, the findings letter was sent. The letter concluded that a number of conditions at the jail violated the constitutional rights of the inmates and detailed those violations. Specifically, the letter discussed unconstitutional deficiencies with respect to First Amendment protections, general environmental safety and sanitation, fire safety, use of force by corrections officers, unacceptably high risks of violence, and medical and mental health care. The letter then recommended ten remedial measures that should be adopted. Finally, the letter indicated that the option of litigation to correct the deficiencies was not foreclosed. On that same day, the Department sent a letter to the U.S. Marshals service to encourage them to discontinue housing federal inmates at the detention center in light of the unconstitutional conditions.

Our file ends with the August 11, 1997 letters, so we do not know what, if any subsequent action was pursued in this matter.

Sherrie Waldrup - 04/12/2006


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
General
Assault/abuse by staff
Fire safety
Sanitation / living conditions
Totality of conditions
Medical/Mental Health
Medical care, general
Mental health care, general
Plaintiff Type
U.S. Dept of Justice plaintiff
Type of Facility
Government-run
Causes of Action Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act (CRIPA), 42 U.S.C. § 1997 et seq.
Defendant(s) Mercer County Detention Center
Plaintiff Description United States Department of Justice
Indexed Lawyer Organizations U.S. Dept. of Justice Civil Rights Division
Class action status sought No
Class action status granted No
Prevailing Party Unknown
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief Unknown
Source of Relief Unknown
Form of Settlement None on record
Order Duration not on record
Case Closing Year n/a
Case Ongoing Unknown
Additional Resources
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Case Studies After Decision: Implementation of Judicial Decrees in Correctional Settings
Written: Oct. 01, 1977
By: M. Kay Harris & Dudley P. Spiller (Temple University)
Citation: (1977)
[ Detail ] [ PDF ]

  An Analysis of CRIPA Findings Letters Issued to Jails for Constitutional Violations by the Department of Justice
Written: Apr. 15, 2016
By: Jeff Mellow, Bryce E. Peterson & Mijin Kim (John Jay College of Criminal Justice)
Citation: Am. J. Crim. Just. (April 2016)
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

Docket(s)
No docket sheet currently in the collection
General Documents
Notice Letter re: CRIPA Investigation of Mercer County Detention Center, Trenton, N.J. 05/01/1996
JC-NJ-0002-0001.pdf | Detail
Document Source: U.S. Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division, Special Litigation Section
Memorandum re: Findings Letter re: CRIPA Investigation of Mercer County Detention Center, Trenton, N.J. 07/25/1997
JC-NJ-0002-0002.pdf | Detail
Findings Letter re: CRIPA Investigation of Mercer County Detention Center, Trenton, N.J. 08/11/1997
JC-NJ-0002-0003.pdf | Detail
Judges None on record
Monitors/Masters None on record
Plaintiff's Lawyers Hochberg, Faith S. (New Jersey)
JC-NJ-0002-0001 | JC-NJ-0002-0003
Patrick, Deval L. (District of Columbia)
JC-NJ-0002-0001
Pinzler, Isabelle Katz (District of Columbia)
JC-NJ-0002-0002 | JC-NJ-0002-0003
Rosenbaum, Steven H. (District of Columbia)
JC-NJ-0002-0002
Defendant's Lawyers Vuocolo, Alfred (New Jersey)
JC-NJ-0002-0003
Other Lawyers None on record

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