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Case Name Twelve John Does v. District of Columbia PC-DC-0008
Docket / Court 80-2136 ( D.D.C. )
State/Territory District of Columbia
Case Type(s) Prison Conditions
Case Summary
On August 20, 1980, twelve inmates at the Central Facility of the District of Columbia Reformatory located in Lorton, Virginia, filed a class action lawsuit under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against the District of Columbia Department of Corrections in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. ... read more >
On August 20, 1980, twelve inmates at the Central Facility of the District of Columbia Reformatory located in Lorton, Virginia, filed a class action lawsuit under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against the District of Columbia Department of Corrections in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. The plaintiffs asked the court for declaratory and injunctive relief, as well as money damages, alleging that their constitutional rights had been violated by a failure to protect inmates from actual and threatened physical violence inflicted on them by other inmates. They also claimed that the living conditions at the prison were unconstitutional, asserting that the prison had inadequacies in the areas of rehabilitative facilities, recreational facilities, classification procedures, overcrowding, lack of supervision, poor sanitation, wretched food, lack of a furlough program, lack of a work release program, drugs, and intoxication. They also claimed that inmates had unrestricted access to dangerous weapons.

About a year later, the parties entered into a consent decree, and on March 3, 1982, the District Court (Judge June Lazenby Green) ordered the defendants to notify all potential class members of the settlement terms. The consent decree, which was finalized and approved by the Court on April 28, 1982, provided for expansion of the jail to alleviate crowding, limits on double-celling of inmates, walk-through metal detectors to enhance security, hand frisking, an intercom system, perimeter surveillance, better lighting, increased staffing, improved classification procedures, improved sanitation (including plumbing, water, heating, ventilation, electricity, waste management, insect and rodent control, and clean mattresses), improved healthcare services, noise control, fire safety, safer food quality and preparation, improved programming and work options, a library, a school, record keeping, mental healthcare, and limits on the inmate population.

Later in the year, the plaintiffs asked the Court to find the defendants in non-compliance with the terms of the consent decree, and on December 20, 1982, the District Court (Judge Green) held that the defendants were still non-compliant in sever areas, including failure to install the metal detectors, reach sufficient staffing levels, re-work their classification procedures, expand the dormitory space, renovate dormitories, properly staff medical personnel, and provide rehabilitation and education to prisoners. The Court ordered that the defendants would be assessed $100 for each day of non-compliance with the provisions of the decree unless they fixed all these problems by a specified period of time for each problem.

On January 1, 1983, the parties entered into an amended consent decree in which the plaintiffs gave the defendants several more months in which to come into compliance with the terms of the decree, and the defendants agreed to pay a penalty of $250 per day for each day that they were late in complying with the terms of the decree.

The plaintiffs asked the Court to re-assess the maximum population levels for the facility, and on August 13, 1986, the Court (Judge Green) capped the prison dorm population at 1290 inmates. On May 20, 1987, Judge Green appointed John D. Fauntleroy to be the Special Master in this case and report to the District Court. Twelve John Does v. District of Columbia, No. 90-2136, 1987 WL 11422 (D.D.C. May 20, 1987).

On July 31, 1987, the District Court (Judge Green) held that the prison was so overcrowded that it was inappropriate for housing any additional prisoners, and therefore enjoined U.S. Attorney General Edwin A. Meese, III from sending any newly sentenced prisoners to the facility until the inmate population was back within the previously designated limits. The Court also imposed monetary sanctions against the defendants and held them in contempt. Twelve John Does v. District of Columbia, 668 F.Supp. 20 (D.D.C. 1987). The defendants appealed, and on March 11, 1988, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit (Judge Douglas Howard Ginsburg) reversed the injunction and remanded the case for reconsideration. The D.C. Circuit reasoned that since the District Court had previously dismissed the Attorney General from the lawsuit, they could not now reinstate him as a defendant in order to enjoin his behavior in this manner. Twelve John Does v. District of Columbia, 841 F.2d 1133 (D.C.Cir. 1988).

On remand, the defendants argued to the District Court that it was impossible for them to comply with the population cap and asked the Court to modify the decree. On August 1, 1988, the Court (Judge Green) ordered the defendants not to house any more prisoners at the prison and to reduce the inmate population by 150 persons each month until they were back in compliance with the population limits. Twelve John Does v. District of Columbia, No. 80-2136, 1988 WL 83163 (D.D.C. Aug. 1, 1988). The defendants appealed, and on August 26, 1988, the DC Circuit affirmed the District Court's decision. Twelve John Does v. District of Columbia, 855 F.2d 874 (D.C.Cir. 1988). On November 18, 1988, the DC Circuit (Judge Abner Joseph Mikva) further held that the population increase in the prison had been foreseeable, and that the defendants had failed to show any good faith effort to comply with the consent decree. Twelve John Does v. District of Columbia, 861 F.2d 295 (D.C.Cir. 1988).

One year later, the plaintiffs asked the District Court to modify the consent decree and require the defendants to hire more staff than the original consent decree had required, arguing that it was necessary due to the fact that the failure of the dormitory intercom system and the addition of a new dormitory was a material change of circumstances and made extra staffing necessary. On November 7, 1989, the District Court (Judge Green) granted the motion and ordered the defendants to hire the appropriate number of staff.

On December 17, 1990, the District Court approved a modification to the consent decree that had been agreed upon by both sides to the lawsuit. The modification, which was designed to address the impact of the new Modular 200 Unit being constructed at the prison, set out the plans for the physical characteristics and size of the new building, the population limit, the manner in which the facility would be used, the correct number of staff members that needed to be hired, food service plans, medical service plans, mental health service plans, recreation plans for inmates, religious services, law library access, telephone use, and shower use.

Two years later, the parties entered into another consent decree, which the District Court adopted on June 10, 1992. Under this decree, the defendants agreed to pay monetary sanctions if they failed to maintain six full-time physicians, four full-time psychologists, two full-time master's degree social workers, and one full-time physiatrist to evaluate the care of handicapped inmates. The defendants also agreed to provide special diets according inmate medical needs, a working ambulance, a computerized pharmacy system, EMT training for ambulance staff, and sick call at control cells. Six members of the plaintiff class disagreed with this settlement because they felt that the defendants should have to pay contempt sanctions for their violations of the decree. Those six inmates asked the District Court to certify them as a sub-class but granted them a protective order to prevent retaliation against them. They filed an appeal. On July 1, 1997, the D.C. Circuit affirmed the District Court's decision not to certify them as a sub-class but repealed the protective order, finding that there was no showing that these inmates were in danger of retaliation. Twelve John Does v. District of Columbia, 117 F.3d 571 (D.C.Cir. 1997).

On July 26, 1996, the District Court ordered the defendants to hire a system-wide medical coordinator that had to be approved by the Court. On February 26, 1997, the Court adopted a consent order concerning environmental health and sanitation conditions, requiring the defendants to adopt new inspection and abatement procedures. The Court noted that all other parts of the original consent decree were still in effect and that it was not appropriate to terminate prospective relief at that time.

In November, 2001, the Central Facility was permanently closed, and all of the inmates were moved to other facilities under the Federal Bureau of Prisons. Due to this closure, the District Court issued a consent order on May 7, 2002, vacating the orders that had been issued and dismissing the case.

Kristen Sagar - 09/27/2007


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Affected Gender
Male
Crowding
Crowding / caseload
Pre-PLRA Population Cap
General
Access to lawyers or judicial system
Assault/abuse by residents/inmates/students
Assault/abuse by staff
Bathing and hygiene
Classification / placement
Education
Fire safety
Food service / nutrition / hydration
Law library access
Library (non-law) access
Phone
Recreation / Exercise
Rehabilitation
Religious programs / policies
Sanitation / living conditions
Special education
Staff (number, training, qualifications, wages)
Totality of conditions
Medical/Mental Health
Medical care, general
Mental health care, general
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Type of Facility
Government-run
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. § 1983
Defendant(s) District of Columbia Department of Corrections
Plaintiff Description inmates at the Central Facility of the District of Columbia Reformatory located in Lorton, Virginia
Indexed Lawyer Organizations None on record
Class action status sought Yes
Class action status granted Yes
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer No
Nature of Relief Damages
Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement
Source of Relief Litigation
Settlement
Form of Settlement Court Approved Settlement or Consent Decree
Order Duration 1982 - 2002
Case Closing Year 2002
Case Ongoing No
Case Listing PC-DC-0010 : U.S. v. District of Columbia (D.D.C.)
Additional Resources
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Case Studies Civil Rights Injunctions Over Time: A Case Study of Jail and Prison Court Orders
N.Y.U. Law Review
By: Margo Schlanger (Washington University)
Citation: 81 N.Y.U. L. Rev. 550 (2006)
[ Detail ] [ PDF ] [ External Link ]

  Judicial Policy Making and the Modern State: How the Courts Reformed America's Prisons
By: Malcolm M. Feeley & Edward Rubin (UC Berkeley Boalt Hall School of Law & Vanderbilt School of Law Faculty)
Citation: (1998)
[ Detail ]

Docket(s)
80-CV-02136-WBB (D.D.C.) 06/26/2003
PC-DC-0008-9000.pdf | Detail
PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Complaint for Declaratory and Injunctive Relief and for Damages 08/01/1980
PC-DC-0008-0001.pdf | Detail
Proposed Order 01/01/1982 (D.D.C.)
PC-DC-0008-0019.pdf | Detail
Order 03/03/1982 (D.D.C.)
PC-DC-0008-0002.pdf | Detail
Notification to Class Members of Proposed Settlement Agreement 03/03/1982
PC-DC-0008-0020.pdf | Detail
Joint Motion for Approval and Entry of Consent Decree 03/03/1982
PC-DC-0008-0021.pdf | Detail
Amendments to Order for Class Notification of Proposed Settlement Agreement 03/05/1982 (D.D.C.)
PC-DC-0008-0003.pdf | Detail
Notification to Class Members of Proposed Settlement Agreement 03/05/1982
PC-DC-0008-0004.pdf | Detail
Final Settlement Agreement and Consent Decree 04/28/1982
PC-DC-0008-0005.pdf | Detail
Memorandum Order and Judgment 04/28/1982 (D.D.C.)
PC-DC-0008-0006.pdf | Detail
Order 12/20/1982 (D.D.C.)
PC-DC-0008-0008.pdf | Detail
Consent Decree Amending Final Settlement Agreement and Consent Decree 01/01/1983 (D.D.C.)
PC-DC-0008-0009.pdf | Detail
Order 08/13/1986 (D.D.C.)
PC-DC-0008-0010.pdf | Detail
Order 05/20/1987 (1987 WL 11422) (D.D.C.)
PC-DC-0008-0028.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Opinion 07/31/1987 (668 F.Supp. 20) (D.D.C.)
PC-DC-0008-0023.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: Google Scholar
Opinion 03/28/1988 (841 F.2d 1133)
PC-DC-0008-0025.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: Google Scholar
Memorandum 08/01/1988 (1988 WL 83163) (D.D.C.)
PC-DC-0008-0029.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Opinion 08/26/1988 (855 F.2d 874)
PC-DC-0008-0027.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: Google Scholar
Opinion 11/18/1988 (861 F.2d 295)
PC-DC-0008-0026.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: Google Scholar
Plaintiffs motion to modify the Consent Decree's Officer Staffing Requirement 11/07/1989
PC-DC-0008-0011.pdf | Detail
Memorandum in support of Plaintiffs' motion to modify the Consent Decree's Officer Staffing Requirement 11/07/1989
PC-DC-0008-0012.pdf | Detail
Order 11/07/1989 (D.D.C.)
PC-DC-0008-0013.pdf | Detail
Order 12/14/1989 (D.D.C.)
PC-DC-0008-0014.pdf | Detail
Motion for Adoption of Consent Decree Amendment on new Modular 200 unit 12/17/1990 (D.D.C.)
PC-DC-0008-0007.pdf | Detail
Consent Order 06/10/1992 (D.D.C.)
PC-DC-0008-0015.pdf | Detail
Consent Motion for the adoption of a Consent Order concerning systemwide medical and mental health care 07/26/1996 (D.D.C.)
PC-DC-0008-0016.pdf | Detail
Consent Order 07/26/1996 (D.D.C.)
PC-DC-0008-0017.pdf | Detail
Joint Motion for Entry of Consent Order Regarding Environmental Health and Sanitation Matters 02/26/1997 (D.D.C.)
PC-DC-0008-0018.pdf | Detail
Reported Opinion 07/01/1997 (117 F.3d 571)
PC-DC-0008-0024.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: Google Scholar
Consent Order 05/07/2002 (D.D.C.)
PC-DC-0008-0022.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Judges Bryant, William Benson (D.D.C.)
PC-DC-0008-9000
Ginsburg, Douglas Howard (D.C. Circuit)
PC-DC-0008-0024 | PC-DC-0008-0025 | PC-DC-0008-0026
Ginsburg, Ruth Bader (D.C. Circuit, SCOTUS)
PC-DC-0008-0025
Green, June Lazenby (D.D.C.)
PC-DC-0008-0002 | PC-DC-0008-0003 | PC-DC-0008-0004 | PC-DC-0008-0005 | PC-DC-0008-0006 | PC-DC-0008-0007 | PC-DC-0008-0008 | PC-DC-0008-0010 | PC-DC-0008-0013 | PC-DC-0008-0014 | PC-DC-0008-0015 | PC-DC-0008-0016 | PC-DC-0008-0017 | PC-DC-0008-0018 | PC-DC-0008-0020 | PC-DC-0008-0023 | PC-DC-0008-0028 | PC-DC-0008-0029
Mikva, Abner Joseph (D.C. Circuit)
PC-DC-0008-0026
Robinson, Spottswood William III (D.C. Circuit, D.D.C.)
PC-DC-0008-0025 | PC-DC-0008-0027
Rosenn, Max (Third Circuit)
PC-DC-0008-0026
Sentelle, David Bryan (D.C. Circuit, W.D.N.C.)
PC-DC-0008-0024
Starr, Kenneth Winston (D.C. Circuit)
PC-DC-0008-0027
Wald, Patricia McGowan (D.C. Circuit)
PC-DC-0008-0027
Williams, Stephen Fain (D.C. Circuit)
PC-DC-0008-0024
Monitors/Masters None on record
Plaintiff's Lawyers Bernstein, Michael S. (District of Columbia)
PC-DC-0008-0005 | PC-DC-0008-0009 | PC-DC-0008-0021
Brown, Catherine W. (District of Columbia)
PC-DC-0008-0005 | PC-DC-0008-0009 | PC-DC-0008-0021
Cleveland, Gaines H. (District of Columbia)
PC-DC-0008-0026
Elmendorf, Clare M. (District of Columbia)
PC-DC-0008-0007 | PC-DC-0008-0015
Kindall, Clare E. (Connecticut)
PC-DC-0008-9000
Kramer, Jane M. (District of Columbia)
PC-DC-0008-0005 | PC-DC-0008-0021
Labson, Michael S. (District of Columbia)
PC-DC-0008-0016 | PC-DC-0008-0018 | PC-DC-0008-0024
Lasker, Eric G. (District of Columbia)
PC-DC-0008-0016 | PC-DC-0008-0018 | PC-DC-0008-9000
Lederer, Brian J.H. (District of Columbia)
PC-DC-0008-0024 | PC-DC-0008-9000
More, John H. (District of Columbia)
PC-DC-0008-0001 | PC-DC-0008-0005 | PC-DC-0008-0009 | PC-DC-0008-0021
Morten, Kemi (District of Columbia)
PC-DC-0008-0024 | PC-DC-0008-9000
Muoio, Ralph M. (District of Columbia)
PC-DC-0008-9000
Nickles, Peter J. (District of Columbia)
PC-DC-0008-0001 | PC-DC-0008-0005 | PC-DC-0008-0007 | PC-DC-0008-0009 | PC-DC-0008-0011 | PC-DC-0008-0012 | PC-DC-0008-0016 | PC-DC-0008-0018 | PC-DC-0008-0021 | PC-DC-0008-0023 | PC-DC-0008-0024 | PC-DC-0008-0025 | PC-DC-0008-0026 | PC-DC-0008-0027 | PC-DC-0008-9000
Pemberton, Alan A. (District of Columbia)
PC-DC-0008-0007 | PC-DC-0008-0011 | PC-DC-0008-0012 | PC-DC-0008-0016 | PC-DC-0008-0017 | PC-DC-0008-0018 | PC-DC-0008-0022 | PC-DC-0008-0023 | PC-DC-0008-0024 | PC-DC-0008-0025 | PC-DC-0008-0026 | PC-DC-0008-0027 | PC-DC-0008-9000
Reed, Kemi Marlene Morten (Florida)
PC-DC-0008-9000
Russo, David L. (District of Columbia)
PC-DC-0008-0026
Seymour, John F. (District of Columbia)
PC-DC-0008-0023 | PC-DC-0008-0025 | PC-DC-0008-0027
Toupin, James A. (District of Columbia)
PC-DC-0008-0001
Defendant's Lawyers Allen, Edward (District of Columbia)
PC-DC-0008-0023
Bates, John D. (District of Columbia)
PC-DC-0008-0025
Birch, John Oliver (District of Columbia)
PC-DC-0008-0023 | PC-DC-0008-0025
Cooke, Frederick D. Jr. (District of Columbia)
PC-DC-0008-0025 | PC-DC-0008-0026 | PC-DC-0008-0027
DiGenova, Joseph E. (District of Columbia)
PC-DC-0008-0023 | PC-DC-0008-0025
Facciola, John M. (District of Columbia)
PC-DC-0008-0023 | PC-DC-0008-0025 | PC-DC-0008-9000
Hacala, Martin G. (District of Columbia)
PC-DC-0008-0017
Kelly, Bradley Lynn (Maryland)
PC-DC-0008-0023 | PC-DC-0008-0025
Lamberth, Royce C. (District of Columbia)
PC-DC-0008-0023 | PC-DC-0008-0025
Lerner, Jacques Phillip (District of Columbia)
PC-DC-0008-9000
Lopes, Grace Michele (District of Columbia)
PC-DC-0008-0017
Love, Richard Stuart (District of Columbia)
PC-DC-0008-0007 | PC-DC-0008-0015 | PC-DC-0008-0017 | PC-DC-0008-0018 | PC-DC-0008-0022 | PC-DC-0008-0024 | PC-DC-0008-9000
Prager, Lutz Alexander (District of Columbia)
PC-DC-0008-0025
Quander, Paul A. Jr. (District of Columbia)
PC-DC-0008-0026 | PC-DC-0008-9000
Reid, Herbert O. Sr. (District of Columbia)
PC-DC-0008-0007
Reischel, Charles L. (District of Columbia)
PC-DC-0008-0024 | PC-DC-0008-0025 | PC-DC-0008-0026 | PC-DC-0008-0027
Robinson, Jo Anne (District of Columbia)
PC-DC-0008-0018 | PC-DC-0008-0024
Rogers, Judith Ann Wilson (District of Columbia)
PC-DC-0008-0005 | PC-DC-0008-0009 | PC-DC-0008-0021
Schwab, Edward E. (District of Columbia)
PC-DC-0008-0025 | PC-DC-0008-0026 | PC-DC-0008-0027
Suda, John H. (District of Columbia)
PC-DC-0008-0005 | PC-DC-0008-0009 | PC-DC-0008-0021
Utiger, Robert C. (District of Columbia)
PC-DC-0008-9000
Wilson, Mary L. (District of Columbia)
PC-DC-0008-0024
Zielinski, Michael Edward (California)
PC-DC-0008-0004 | PC-DC-0008-0005 | PC-DC-0008-0009 | PC-DC-0008-0018 | PC-DC-0008-0021 | PC-DC-0008-0023 | PC-DC-0008-0025 | PC-DC-0008-0027 | PC-DC-0008-9000
Other Lawyers None on record

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