University of Michigan Law School
Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse
new search
page permalink
Case Name Women Prisoners of DC Department of Corrections v. District of Columbia PC-DC-0011
Docket / Court 93-2052 ( D.D.C. )
State/Territory District of Columbia
Case Type(s) Prison Conditions
Case Summary
On October 1, 1993, a group of female prisoners of the District of Columbia 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 ... read more >
On October 1, 1993, a group of female prisoners of the District of Columbia 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 damages, alleging that their constitutional rights had been violated by sexual abuse from prison staff, who they claimed had used physical force and threats of physical force to make them engage in sexual activity. They also alleged that the male prison staff invaded their privacy by entering their living areas without announcing their presence (which was against the defendants' internal policy), sexually harassed them, raped them, and created a "hostile, sexualized environment" that subjected to mental anguish and exacerbated the negative effects of the abuse that most of these women had suffered in their personal lives before they got to jail. They alleged that the Department of Corrections failed to properly investigate and handle reports of this nature, making them liable for the abuse that occurred. In addition, they complained of deprivation of obstetrical and gynecological care, basic sanitation needs, basic shelter needs, fire hazards, poor nutrition, lack of educational programs and work opportunities, lack of religious programs, lack of recreation, and lack of clean clothing.

On December 1, 1993, the District Court (Judge June L. Green) certified the case as a class action, and the plaintiffs were allowed to proceed with their identities being kept a secret in order to protect them from retaliation in the prisons. The Court held a bench trial in mid-June 1994, and on December 13, 1994, the Court granted declaratory and injunctive relief to the plaintiffs, holding that the plaintiffs' rights had been violated by sexual harassment, inadequate living conditions, poor medical care, and a lack of educational, recreational, and religious opportunities (compared to those offered to men). The Court gave the defendants six months to bring their prison up to a constitutional standard in these areas. Women Prisoners of the District of Columbia Department of Corrections v. DC, 877 F.Supp. 634 (D.D.C. 1994).

Shortly after this order was entered, the defendants announced a cost-saving plan premised on the closure of the Modular Facility at Lorton, Virginia, and the double-celling of the CTF, a facility that houses male and female prisoners. On January 26, 1995, the plaintiffs asked the Court to enjoin the defendants from implementing this plan until they had demonstrated that it would not threaten the safety and well-being of the women prisoners at the CTF, impede the implementation of the Court's previous order, or result in a violation of any consent decree. The parties agreed to have the Court's Special Officer evaluate the double-celling plan. When the Special Officer evaluated the defendants' plan, she found it unacceptable, concluding that the CTF could not safely accommodate double-celling and that it had substantial deficiencies in the conditions of confinement.

On March 15, 1995, the Court ordered the defendants to institute mandatory training on sexual harassment for all staff members who worked with female prisoners, and five months later, the Court further ordered the prison to hire a health educator with appropriate training in obstetrics and gynecology in a half-time position to provide clinical and health services to the female prisoners, as well as a nurse practitioner, a physician's assistant, or a nurse midwife. The Court ordered the prison not to use any restraints on a woman in labor, during delivery, or in recover after a delivery, and the Court ordered them not to use restraints on a woman in her third trimester unless she has demonstrated a history of assaultive behavior or escape. Women Prisoners of the District of Columbia Department of Corrections v. DC, 899 F.Supp. 659 (D.D.C. 1995). The defendants appealed this order.

On August 30, 1996, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit (Judge Buckley) partially vacated the District Court's order and remanded the case. The DC Circuit held that the availability of fewer programs to female inmates than male inmates did not violate equal protection, that the order setting the population cap was too broad, that the correctional officials could be ordered to comply with the inmate grievance procedures, and that officials could be ordered not to retaliate against inmates who complained of sexual harassment. Women Prisoners of the District of Columbia Department of Corrections v. DC, 93 F.3d 910 (D.C.Cir. 1996).

On June 22, 1998, the plaintiffs asked the District Court to hold the defendants in contempt for disobey the Court's orders, alleging that the defendants had not implemented the required remedies in the areas of sexual misconduct, environmental and fire safety, and programming. Seven days later, the parties met to discuss and resolve the plaintiffs' concerns. On October 1, 1998, the parties jointly submitted a status report regarding these negotiations. The report informed the court that they had made "considerable progress" resolving their disagreements, and that they intended to continue their discussion.

The Pacer docket has a five-year gap at this point, but it picks back up on July 19, 2004, when the parties entered into a consent motion to dismiss the case with prejudice, which was granted by the District Court (Judge Emmet G. Sullivan) on September 9, 2004.

Kristen Sagar - 04/07/2009


compress summary

- click to show/hide ALL -
Issues and Causes of Action
click to show/hide detail
Issues
Affected Gender
Female
Crowding
Crowding / caseload
Pre-PLRA Population Cap
Discrimination-basis
Sex discrimination
General
Assault/abuse by staff
Bathing and hygiene
Classification / placement
Education
Fire safety
Food service / nutrition / hydration
Grievance Procedures
Law library access
Personal injury
Recreation / Exercise
Rehabilitation
Religious programs / policies
Restraints : physical
Sanitation / living conditions
Sex w/ staff; sexual harassment by staff
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 female prisoners of the District of Columbia
Indexed Lawyer Organizations None on record
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 Litigation
Settlement
Form of Settlement Court Approved Settlement or Consent Decree
Order Duration 1994 - 2004
Case Closing Year 2004
Case Ongoing No
Additional Resources
click to show/hide detail
Case Studies Beyond Parity and Equal Protection: Women Prisoner's Right Litigation in the 1990s
By: Julie Cho (Harvard)
[ Detail ] [ PDF ]

  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)
93-2052 (D.D.C.) 10/01/1998
PC-DC-0011-9001 PDF | Detail
PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
93-2052 (D.D.C.) 09/09/2004
PC-DC-0011-9000 PDF | Detail
PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Plaintiffs' Revised Proposed Conclusions of Law
PC-DC-0011-0026 PDF | Detail
Plaintiffs' Proposed Conclusions of Law
PC-DC-0011-0028 PDF | Detail
Profile of the Female Offender Population 01/07/1993
PC-DC-0011-0031 PDF | Detail
Complaint for Declaratory and Injunctive Relief 10/01/1993
PC-DC-0011-0034 PDF | Detail
Answer of Defendants District of Columbia, Sharon Pratt Kelly, Dept. of Corrections, Walter Ridley, William Plaut, Gwen Washington, John S. Henderson, Douglas Stempson, William Hall and D.C. General Hospital Commission to Plaintiffs' Complaint 11/09/1993
PC-DC-0011-0035 PDF | Detail
[Revised Proposed] Order for Declaratory and Injunctive Relief 01/01/1994 (D.D.C.)
PC-DC-0011-0001 PDF | Detail
Plaintiffs' Proposed Order for Declaratory and Injunctive Relief 01/01/1994
PC-DC-0011-0029 PDF | Detail
Defendants' Pretrial Statement 05/17/1994
PC-DC-0011-0030 PDF | Detail
Plaintiffs' Pretrial Statement 05/17/1994
PC-DC-0011-0036 PDF | Detail
Plaintiffs' Proposed Findings of Fact 06/08/1994
PC-DC-0011-0027 PDF | Detail
Defendants' Trial Brief 07/05/1994
PC-DC-0011-0003 PDF | Detail
Plaintiffs' Revised Proposed Findings of Fact 07/18/1994
PC-DC-0011-0002 PDF | Detail
Opinion 12/13/1994 (877 F.Supp. 634) (D.D.C.)
PC-DC-0011-0049 PDF | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: Google Scholar
Plaintiffs' Motion Requesting Implementation of Monitoring Procedures / Memorandum in Support of Motion 02/14/1995
PC-DC-0011-0004 PDF | Detail
Notice of Filing 02/17/1995
PC-DC-0011-0005 PDF | Detail
Consent Order 03/10/1995 (D.D.C.)
PC-DC-0011-0006 PDF | Detail
Order 03/15/1995 (D.D.C.)
PC-DC-0011-0007 PDF | Detail
Order 03/15/1995 (D.D.C.)
PC-DC-0011-0037 PDF | Detail
Order 03/15/1995 (D.D.C.)
PC-DC-0011-0038 PDF | Detail
Defendants' Submission of the D.C. DOC's Department Order Regarding Sexual Harrassment Against Inmates 03/16/1995 (D.D.C.)
PC-DC-0011-0008 PDF | Detail
Order 03/27/1995 (D.D.C.)
PC-DC-0011-0009 PDF | Detail
Special Officer's Report on Compliance with the Dec. 13, 1994 Order, as Amended 05/10/1995
PC-DC-0011-0010 PDF | Detail
Plaintiffs' Status Report 06/15/1995
PC-DC-0011-0011 PDF | Detail
Memorandum 08/14/1995 (899 F.Supp. 659) (D.D.C.)
PC-DC-0011-0048 PDF | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: Google Scholar
Reported Opinion 08/30/1996 (93 F.3d 910)
PC-DC-0011-0047 PDF | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: Google Scholar
Status Report 12/17/1996
PC-DC-0011-0013 PDF | Detail
Memorandum Decision 04/28/1997 (520 U.S. 1196)
PC-DC-0011-0050 PDF | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: Westlaw
Plaintiffs' Status Report and Motion for Entry of Order 05/14/1997
PC-DC-0011-0014 PDF | Detail
Order 05/14/1997 (D.D.C.)
PC-DC-0011-0044 PDF | Detail
Order 06/16/1997 (968 F.Supp. 744) (D.D.C.)
PC-DC-0011-0046 PDF | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: Google Scholar
August 1997 Compliance Monitor's Report 09/15/1997
PC-DC-0011-0039 PDF | Detail
Defendants' Status Report 09/29/1997
PC-DC-0011-0016 PDF | Detail
D.C. DOC's Department Order Regarding Sexual Misconduct Against Inmates 10/15/1997
PC-DC-0011-0040 PDF | Detail
Audit of Compliance w/ Court Order: Updated Reort 10/15/1997
PC-DC-0011-0042 PDF | Detail
September 1997 Compliance Monitor's Reports 10/17/1997
PC-DC-0011-0017 PDF | Detail
February 1998 Compliance Monitor's Report 03/20/1998
PC-DC-0011-0018 PDF | Detail
Environmental Inspection Report for the Correctional Treatment Facility 03/23/1998
PC-DC-0011-0041 PDF | Detail
March 1998 Compliance Monitor's Report 04/17/1998
PC-DC-0011-0019 PDF | Detail
April 1998 Compliance Monitor's Report 05/29/1998
PC-DC-0011-0020 PDF | Detail
Response to Concerns RE: Investigation of incidents of sexual misconduct 06/05/1998
PC-DC-0011-0032 PDF | Detail
Plaintiffs' Motion for Contempt and to Enforce the Court's Order for Injunctive Relief 06/22/1998
PC-DC-0011-0021 PDF | Detail
Plaintiff's Memorandum in Support of Motion for Contempt and to Enforce the Court's Order for Injunctive Relief 06/22/1998
PC-DC-0011-0022 PDF | Detail
Order 06/22/1998 (D.D.C.)
PC-DC-0011-0023 PDF | Detail
Sexual Misconduct Against Inmates Policy 06/22/1998
PC-DC-0011-0033 PDF | Detail
The Parties' Joint Status Report Regarding Plaintiff's Motion for an Order to show cause for contempt 10/01/1998
PC-DC-0011-0024 PDF | Detail
Consent Motion to Dismiss with Prejudice 07/19/2004
PC-DC-0011-0045 PDF | Detail
Judges Buckley, James Lane (D.C. Circuit)
PC-DC-0011-0047
Green, June Lazenby (D.D.C.)
PC-DC-0011-0001 | PC-DC-0011-0002 | PC-DC-0011-0006 | PC-DC-0011-0007 | PC-DC-0011-0009 | PC-DC-0011-0023 | PC-DC-0011-0026 | PC-DC-0011-0027 | PC-DC-0011-0028 | PC-DC-0011-0029 | PC-DC-0011-0037 | PC-DC-0011-0038 | PC-DC-0011-0044 | PC-DC-0011-0046 | PC-DC-0011-0048 | PC-DC-0011-0049 | PC-DC-0011-9000 | PC-DC-0011-9001
Monitors/Masters Lopes, Grace Michele (District of Columbia)
PC-DC-0011-0010 | PC-DC-0011-0048 | PC-DC-0011-9000
Thaxton-Fox, Gloria D. (Virginia)
PC-DC-0011-0017 | PC-DC-0011-0018 | PC-DC-0011-0019 | PC-DC-0011-0020 | PC-DC-0011-0039
Plaintiff's Lawyers Abbate, Julie K. (District of Columbia)
PC-DC-0011-0011 | PC-DC-0011-0013 | PC-DC-0011-0014 | PC-DC-0011-0046 | PC-DC-0011-9000 | PC-DC-0011-9001
Brake, Deborah (District of Columbia)
PC-DC-0011-0002 | PC-DC-0011-0004 | PC-DC-0011-0011 | PC-DC-0011-0013 | PC-DC-0011-0014 | PC-DC-0011-0021 | PC-DC-0011-0022 | PC-DC-0011-0026 | PC-DC-0011-0027 | PC-DC-0011-0028 | PC-DC-0011-0034 | PC-DC-0011-0036 | PC-DC-0011-0046 | PC-DC-0011-0048
Brown, Caroline M. (District of Columbia)
PC-DC-0011-0002 | PC-DC-0011-0004 | PC-DC-0011-0011 | PC-DC-0011-0013 | PC-DC-0011-0014 | PC-DC-0011-0021 | PC-DC-0011-0022 | PC-DC-0011-0026 | PC-DC-0011-0027 | PC-DC-0011-0028 | PC-DC-0011-0034 | PC-DC-0011-0036 | PC-DC-0011-0046 | PC-DC-0011-0047 | PC-DC-0011-0048 | PC-DC-0011-0049
Eve, Leccia Roberta (District of Columbia)
PC-DC-0011-9000
Kim, Reenah L. (District of Columbia)
PC-DC-0011-0045
Nickles, Peter J. (District of Columbia)
PC-DC-0011-0002 | PC-DC-0011-0004 | PC-DC-0011-0011 | PC-DC-0011-0013 | PC-DC-0011-0014 | PC-DC-0011-0021 | PC-DC-0011-0022 | PC-DC-0011-0026 | PC-DC-0011-0027 | PC-DC-0011-0028 | PC-DC-0011-0034 | PC-DC-0011-0036 | PC-DC-0011-0045 | PC-DC-0011-0046 | PC-DC-0011-0047 | PC-DC-0011-0048 | PC-DC-0011-0049 | PC-DC-0011-9000 | PC-DC-0011-9001
Smith, Brenda Verndenia (District of Columbia)
PC-DC-0011-0002 | PC-DC-0011-0004 | PC-DC-0011-0011 | PC-DC-0011-0013 | PC-DC-0011-0014 | PC-DC-0011-0021 | PC-DC-0011-0022 | PC-DC-0011-0026 | PC-DC-0011-0027 | PC-DC-0011-0028 | PC-DC-0011-0034 | PC-DC-0011-0036 | PC-DC-0011-0045 | PC-DC-0011-0046 | PC-DC-0011-0047 | PC-DC-0011-0048 | PC-DC-0011-9000 | PC-DC-0011-9001
Stevenson, Lisa J. (District of Columbia)
PC-DC-0011-0021 | PC-DC-0011-0022
Thomas, Tracy A. (District of Columbia)
PC-DC-0011-0002 | PC-DC-0011-0004 | PC-DC-0011-0011 | PC-DC-0011-0013 | PC-DC-0011-0014 | PC-DC-0011-0026 | PC-DC-0011-0027 | PC-DC-0011-0028 | PC-DC-0011-0034 | PC-DC-0011-0036 | PC-DC-0011-0046 | PC-DC-0011-0047 | PC-DC-0011-0049
Defendant's Lawyers Amato, Maria-Claudia T. (District of Columbia)
PC-DC-0011-0003 | PC-DC-0011-0008 | PC-DC-0011-0016 | PC-DC-0011-0024 | PC-DC-0011-0030 | PC-DC-0011-0032 | PC-DC-0011-0035 | PC-DC-0011-0045 | PC-DC-0011-0046 | PC-DC-0011-0048 | PC-DC-0011-0049 | PC-DC-0011-9000 | PC-DC-0011-9001
Baldwin-White, Brenda (District of Columbia)
PC-DC-0011-0045
Clark, Karla (District of Columbia)
PC-DC-0011-9000 | PC-DC-0011-9001
Earle, William J. (District of Columbia)
PC-DC-0011-0016
Ferrante, Teresa A. (District of Columbia)
PC-DC-0011-0049 | PC-DC-0011-9000
Ferren, John M. (District of Columbia)
PC-DC-0011-0016 | PC-DC-0011-0024
Hopson, Mark Daniel (District of Columbia)
PC-DC-0011-9000
Jackson, Gregory (District of Columbia)
PC-DC-0011-0045
Love, Richard Stuart (District of Columbia)
PC-DC-0011-0003 | PC-DC-0011-0005 | PC-DC-0011-0008 | PC-DC-0011-0030 | PC-DC-0011-0035 | PC-DC-0011-0045 | PC-DC-0011-0048
Payton, John A. (District of Columbia)
PC-DC-0011-0035
Pinkston, Garland Jr. (District of Columbia)
PC-DC-0011-0005 | PC-DC-0011-0008 | PC-DC-0011-0047
Prager, Lutz Alexander (District of Columbia)
PC-DC-0011-0047
Ray, John Lamar (District of Columbia)
PC-DC-0011-9000 | PC-DC-0011-9001
Reischel, Charles L. (District of Columbia)
PC-DC-0011-0047
Ruiz, Vanessa (District of Columbia)
PC-DC-0011-0003 | PC-DC-0011-0030
Schwab, Edward E. (District of Columbia)
PC-DC-0011-0047
Seitz, Virginia A. (District of Columbia)
PC-DC-0011-9000
Spagnoletti, Robert J. (District of Columbia)
PC-DC-0011-0045
Valentine, George C. (District of Columbia)
PC-DC-0011-0024 | PC-DC-0011-0045
Zielinski, Michael Edward (District of Columbia)
PC-DC-0011-0003 | PC-DC-0011-0005 | PC-DC-0011-0008 | PC-DC-0011-0030 | PC-DC-0011-0035
Other Lawyers Claiborne, William Charles III (District of Columbia)
PC-DC-0011-9000

- click to show/hide ALL -

new search
page permalink

- top of page -