University of Michigan Law School
Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse
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Case Name Johnnie K. v. Crist JI-NM-0002
Docket / Court CIV-82-0182-HB ( D.N.M. )
State/Territory New Mexico
Case Type(s) Juvenile Institution
Attorney Organization Youth Law Center
Case Summary
On February 18, 1982, a class action lawsuit was filed pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §§ 1983 and 1988 in the United States District Court for the District of New Mexico on behalf juveniles confined in the New Mexico Boys' School (N.M.B.S.) in Springer, New Mexico, against the New Mexico ... read more >
On February 18, 1982, a class action lawsuit was filed pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §§ 1983 and 1988 in the United States District Court for the District of New Mexico on behalf juveniles confined in the New Mexico Boys' School (N.M.B.S.) in Springer, New Mexico, against the New Mexico Department of Corrections, the Director of its Juvenile Facilities Division, and the Superintendent of N.M.B.S. The plaintiffs, represented by both the Youth Law Center and private counsel, sought declaratory and injunctive relief from alleged constitutional violations stemming from mail restrictions.

According to the complaint, N.M.B.S. violated the plaintiffs' First and Fourteenth Amendment Rights by censoring incoming mail and limiting outgoing letters. Prior to delivery, N.M.B.S. personnel reviewed all incoming mail, including correspondence from attorneys and court officials. N.M.B.S. refused to deliver mail that could be characterized as obscene, lewd, racist, or containing escape instructions. In addition, mail that could undermine the detainee's rehabilitation was forbidden, as was mail that could be used for blackmail. To be deliverable, mail also had to be legible, written in either English or Spanish, and clearly contain no coded messages. Detainees were only allowed to mail a certain number of letters each week.

On March 29, 1982, N.M.B.S. implemented new mail regulations, which addressed some of the plaintiffs' concerns. The parties agreed to modify these regulations when they entered a consent decree in the United States District Court for the District of New Mexico (Judge Howard C. Bratton) on May 24, 1983. Under the new rule, juveniles could receive an unlimited quantity of mail written in any language. N.M.B.S. personnel were barred from opening mail and packages unless the intended recipient was present and systems for handling money and contraband were defined. Corrections officials were required to follow the chain of command whenever they thought something should be censored and could almost never open mail sent by an attorney or court authority.



We do not have the docket in this case and are not aware of any subsequent proceedings.

Elizabeth Chilcoat - 06/26/2006


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Affected Gender
Male
General
Confidentiality
Language/ethnic/minority needs
Mail
Type of Facility
Government-run
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. § 1983
Defendant(s) New Mexico Boys School
Plaintiff Description Juveniles confined in the New Mexico Boys' School
Indexed Lawyer Organizations Youth Law Center
Class action status sought Yes
Class action status granted Yes
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement
Source of Relief Settlement
Form of Settlement Court Approved Settlement or Consent Decree
Order Duration 1983 - n/a
Case Closing Year n/a
Case Ongoing Unknown
Docket(s)
No docket sheet currently in the collection
General Documents
Civil Rights Complaint for Declaratory and Injunctive Relief and Damages (Class Action) 02/18/1982
JI-NM-0002-0001.pdf | Detail
Stipulation and Order 05/24/1983 (D.N.M.)
JI-NM-0002-0002.pdf | Detail
Judges Bratton, Howard C. (D.N.M.)
JI-NM-0002-0002
Monitors/Masters None on record
Plaintiff's Lawyers Bertenthal, Philip J. (California)
JI-NM-0002-0001
Kauffman, Michael A. (New Mexico)
JI-NM-0002-0001 | JI-NM-0002-0002
Robinson, Shannon A. (Colorado)
JI-NM-0002-0001 | JI-NM-0002-0002
Shotton, Alice C. (California)
JI-NM-0002-0001 | JI-NM-0002-0002
Soler, Mark I. (California)
JI-NM-0002-0001 | JI-NM-0002-0002
Defendant's Lawyers Fry, Judy (New Mexico)
JI-NM-0002-0002
Other Lawyers None on record

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