In 1981, inmates at McDowell County Jail in West Virginia filed a class action lawsuit under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 in the United States District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia against McDowell County Commissioners and Sheriff claiming constitutional violations in the jail. Plaintiffs ...
read more >
In 1981, inmates at McDowell County Jail in West Virginia filed a class action lawsuit under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 in the United States District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia against McDowell County Commissioners and Sheriff claiming constitutional violations in the jail. Plaintiffs were represented by Appalachian Research and Defense Fund and private attorneys. A comprehensive order was entered on April 11, 1983 enjoining the defendants from operating the jail in a manner that violated the Constitution and specifying actions to be taken to bring the jail into compliance. Plaintiffs initiated contempt proceedings several times throughout the 1980s. The district court responded by ordering inspections and appointing a monitor. The monitor reported that defendants were not complying with the order.
On December 26, 1990, the district court (Judge Elizabeth Hallahan) held that the consistent failure of defendants to improve jail conditions warranted the year-long appointment of a receiver to bring the prison into compliance. Shaw v. Allen, 771 F.Supp. 760 (S.D.W.Va. 1990). The court appointed Professor James McCoy of Marshall University as receiver and he was granted all the authority held by the County Commissioners and Sheriff in running the jail.
The PACER docket provides information on proceedings since 1993. On February 2, 1993, Judge Hallahan signed an order agreed to by the parties enjoining defendants from paying off correctional officers, reducing jail staff, closing the jail's third floor, or ceasing to house female inmates. The order also noted that defendants agreed that the County Commissioners would be responsible for the conditions of the jail and the sheriff would have no further responsibility. On October 21, 1993, Judge Hallahan appointed a monitor to make monthly inspections of the jail. On November 2, 1994, an order directed defendants to take specific actions including providing medical training for correctional officers, improving fire safety systems, and developing a medical plan. The order also directed defendants to post the order in the jail. Proceedings continued regarding the monitor's fees until he was released from his duties on April 15, 1997.Angela Heverling - 04/24/2006