On May 9, 1983, female inmates, pretrial detainees, and the children of the inmates and pretrial detainees incarcerated at Niantic Correctional Institution in Niantic, Connecticut, brought a class action law suit against the Commissioner of the Department of Corrections, the Warden of the ...
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On May 9, 1983, female inmates, pretrial detainees, and the children of the inmates and pretrial detainees incarcerated at Niantic Correctional Institution in Niantic, Connecticut, brought a class action law suit against the Commissioner of the Department of Corrections, the Warden of the correctional facility, and the Commissioner of the Department of Children and Youth Services. The plaintiffs were represented by the Connecticut Civil Liberties Union and Greater Hartford Legal Aid. The parties challenged various conditions of confinement including conditions for women compared to men and visiting privileges.
The parties came to a settlement and broad injunctive relief was provided by Consent Judgment of the court, dated October 13 1988 and filed on January 9, 1989. The U.S. District Court for the District of Connecticut (Judge Alan Nevas) found the plaintiffs "clearly prevailed" and awarded attorneys' fees for the settlement of the case. Even with court appointed monitors who receive all their fees and expenses paid by the state, the plaintiffs counsel continued extensive monitoring and enforcement efforts. The plaintiffs were awarded additional attorneys fees on December 3, 1993, for work resulting in a supplemental consent judgment. Also in 1993, the court (Judge Robert Zampano) awarded plaintiffs fees and costs for plaintiffs' counsel's monitoring activities.
In 1993, the court appointed Magistrate Judge Holly B. Fitzsimmons to replace Sr. Judge Robert C. Zampano as the judge overseeing the settlement implementation phase of the case.
In 1996 the Niantic Correctional Institution and the York Correctional Institution were consolidated into one facility which was named the York Correctional Institution.
On September 29, 2000, the court (Magistrate Judge Fitzsimmons) denied the plaintiffs' motion for fees and costs without prejudice. On December 5, 2000 the plaintiffs filed a supplemental application asking for fees and costs for post-judgment monitoring. On July 12, 2001 the U.S. District Court for the District of Connecticut (Magistrate Judge Fitzsimmons) granted the plaintiffs' motion and awarded attorneys fees and costs for post-judgment monitoring. West v. Manson, 163 F.Supp. 2d 116 (D. Conn. 2001). The court found the plaintiffs to be prevailing parties and found the entries of the counsel to be sufficiently specific, to reflect sound billing practice, and found the work to be reasonably necessary and appropriate to the goal of ensuring the defendant's compliance with the consent decrees. The court found that while in the future the plaintiff's fee petitions should be brought annually, the long time lapse between 1993 and the 2000 application did not require the denial of the application. Because the plaintiffs waited up to seven years to file the fee petition, the court ordered the fees be paid at historic rates for post judgment monitoring, rather than current rates, except for the time period postdating the PLRA for which the fees would be paid at the PLRA maximum.
In accordance with the monitoring provisions of the Consent Judgment, an Agreement Monitoring Panel (AMP), consisting of three court-appointed experts, monitored the implementation process and reported to the court bi-annually. Due to prisoner privacy issues, the court ordered that monitoring reports of the AMP were to be sealed. Monitoring has continued through 2007.
The PACER docket indicates that a Telephone Status Conference regarding the Consent Decree was held on March 14, 2007 before Judge Holly B. Fitzsimmons.
In April 2007, the Associated Press reported on that the ACLU of Connecticut was considering taking additional action in the litigation based on the bi-annual monitoring reports, which purportedly noted a decline in the conditions at York Correctional Institution in Niantic, Connecticut. The exact nature of the alleged conditions was unknown to the public, as the monitoring reports remained sealed. As of the updating of this summary (April 24, 2007), the PACER docket did not reflect that a motion to enforce the Consent Decree, or similar pleadings, was pending before the court.Jaclyn Adams - 02/13/2006