On March 31, 1987, inmates and pretrial detainees being held at the jails in Davidson County, Tennessee filed a class action lawsuit under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against Tennessee Department of Corrections and the Metropolitan Government of the City of Nashville in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee. The plaintiffs, represented by the Vanderbilt University Legal Clinic, alleged that their constitutional rights had been violated conditions at the jail, including overcrowding, poor sanitation, poor security, and lack of fire safety.
On October 20, 1989, the Metropolitan Government admitted before the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee (Judge Thomas Higgins) that its jails were unconstitutional, but Department of Corrections did not admit such violations to exist. On December 13, 1989, the court (Judge Higgins) bifurcated the litigation, and on July 25, 1990, the court ordered the Department of Corrections to remove its convicted felons from the Metropolitan Government's facilities.
On April 30, 1991, the court (Judge Higgins) issued an injunction setting population caps on the Metropolitan jails and approved a remedial plan that addressed the other constitutional violations. Specifically, the plan addressed violations in the areas of personal safety, classification, recreation, programming, sanitation, fire safety, and access to courts. On June 3, 1993, the parties agreed that the Metropolitan jails were no longer unconstitutional and had met the remedial plan's requirements. This was confirmed by the court on November 17, 1993.
On May 18, 1995, the parties agreed that the litigation should end if the Metropolitan Government could demonstrate its ability to control overcrowding in its jails. On February 9, 1997, the Metropolitan Government opened a new 600-bed facility, and on April 7, 2000, they filed a final jail management plan with the court, asking the court to dissolve the population cap injunction and dismiss the case.
On March 11, 2002, the court (Judge Higgins) dissolved the injunction and dismissed the case, holding that conditions in the new jails conformed to the constitution's requirements. Armstrong v. Metropolitan Government of Nashville, 196 F.Supp.2d 673 (M.D.Tenn. 2002).Kristen Sagar - 06/13/2007