University of Michigan Law School
Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse
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Case Name Mobile County Jail Inmates v. Purvis JC-AL-0012
Docket / Court 76-416 ( S.D. Ala. )
State/Territory Alabama
Case Type(s) Jail Conditions
Case Summary
In 1976, inmates at the Mobile County Jail in Alabama brought a lawsuit in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Alabama against the Mobile County Commissioners under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 claiming that their conditions of confinement, specifically overcrowding, violated the ... read more >
In 1976, inmates at the Mobile County Jail in Alabama brought a lawsuit in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Alabama against the Mobile County Commissioners under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 claiming that their conditions of confinement, specifically overcrowding, violated the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. Following litigation, on April 24, 1981, the court found that the conditions violated the inmates' due process rights and were also in violation of the Eighth Amendment. This opinion is not available. According to a later opinion, the court issued an injunctive order on April 27, 1981, directing the defendants to make several changes in the jail conditions related to overcrowding, supervision, health care, and training. The order included a specific schedule for decreasing the population of the facility and subsequent litigation centered on this aspect of the order. The defendants were granted several extensions on the time limits.

On September 14, 1982, plaintiffs filed a motion to begin contempt proceedings. The court ordered defendants to show cause why they should not be held in contempt for violating the April 1981 order. Following a hearing, on October 29, 1982, the district court (Senior Judge Thomas Virgil Pittman) entered an order holding the defendants in contempt of court. Mobile County Jail Inmates v. Purvis, 551 F.Supp. 92 (S.D. Ala. 1982). The court noted that the defendants had been in violation of the court's orders since January 1, 1982 and that there had been no significant reduction in the jail population. In a Memorandum Order dated December 30, 1983, the court ordered the defendants to pay $175,000, with the money to be used to alleviate the overcrowded conditions. On January 17, 1984, a more detailed order followed. Mobile County Jail Inmates v. Purvis, 581 F.Supp. 222 (S.D. Ala. 1984). Judge Pittman held that to relieve overcrowding, a portion of the fines levied against the county commissioners would be used to pay bail bond fees for low-bond pretrial detainees not charged with violent crimes and that a jail monitor would be appointed to oversee the implementation of a plan to reduce overcrowding.

Defendants filed a motion requesting that they be purged of contempt and that fines levied against them be remitted. On January 15, 1985, the district court (Judge Pittman) held that the court would not order the accumulated fines to be used to construct additional jail facilities as requested by defendants. Mobile County Jail Inmates v. Purvis, 600 F.Supp. 788 (S.D. Ala. 1985). The court also found that the defendants showed sufficient good faith to purge themselves of contempt and that the remaining funds from the January 1984 order would be refunded in a year if the defendants discharged their duties under the district court's injunction. The PACER docket contains no information on any proceedings, except to indicate that the case was closed in 1985.

Angela Heverling - 03/20/2006


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Crowding
Crowding / caseload
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. § 1983
Defendant(s) Mobile County Jail
Plaintiff Description Inmates of county jail alleging overcrowding in the prison
Indexed Lawyer Organizations None on record
Class action status sought Unknown
Class action status granted Unknown
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer No
Nature of Relief Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement
Source of Relief Litigation
Form of Settlement None on record
Order Duration 1981 - 1985
Case Closing Year 1985
Case Ongoing No
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 ]

Docket(s)
76-cv-00416-M (S.D. Ala.) 05/20/1985
JC-AL-0012-9000 PDF | Detail
PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Order Supplementing This Court's Order Dated October 29, 1982 Holding the Defendants in Contempt of the Court's Previous Orders 11/15/1982 (551 F.Supp. 92) (S.D. Ala.)
JC-AL-0012-0002 PDF | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: Google Scholar
Order 01/17/1984 (581 F.Supp. 222) (S.D. Ala.)
JC-AL-0012-0001 PDF | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: Google Scholar
Order Rescinding Contempt Fine 01/15/1985 (600 F.Supp. 788) (S.D. Ala.)
JC-AL-0012-0003 PDF | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: Google Scholar
Judges Milling, Bert W. Jr. (S.D. Ala.) [Magistrate]
JC-AL-0012-9000
Pittman, Thomas Virgil (M.D. Ala., S.D. Ala.)
JC-AL-0012-0001 | JC-AL-0012-0002 | JC-AL-0012-0003
Monitors/Masters None on record
Plaintiff's Lawyers Bass, Stanley A. (New York)
JC-AL-0012-0003
Blacksher, James U. (Alabama)
JC-AL-0012-0001 | JC-AL-0012-0002 | JC-AL-0012-0003
Fins, Deborah (New York)
JC-AL-0012-0003
Greenberg, Jack (New York)
JC-AL-0012-0003
Winter, Steven L. (New York)
JC-AL-0012-0003
Defendant's Lawyers Bright, Bob (Alabama)
JC-AL-0012-0003
Curtis, Jack M. (Alabama)
JC-AL-0012-0003
Lawler, John (Alabama)
JC-AL-0012-0003
Stout, Roderick P. (Alabama)
JC-AL-0012-0001 | JC-AL-0012-0002 | JC-AL-0012-0003
Williams, Ronnie L. (Alabama)
JC-AL-0012-0003
Wood, James C. (Alabama)
JC-AL-0012-0001 | JC-AL-0012-0002 | JC-AL-0012-0003
Other Lawyers None on record

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