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Case Name Ross v. Scurr PC-IA-0005
Docket / Court 80-214 ( S.D. Iowa )
State/Territory Iowa
Case Type(s) Prison Conditions
Case Summary
In 1980, Native American prisoners at the Iowa State Penitentiary filed a lawsuit in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Iowa against the Iowa Division of Adult Corrections and the Warden, Director of Security, and corrections officers at the Penitentiary. The plaintiffs, ... read more >
In 1980, Native American prisoners at the Iowa State Penitentiary filed a lawsuit in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Iowa against the Iowa Division of Adult Corrections and the Warden, Director of Security, and corrections officers at the Penitentiary. The plaintiffs, who were represented by the Native American Rights Fund, alleged violations of their First, Fifth, Sixth, and Fourteenth Amendment rights. Specifically, the plaintiffs sought injunctive relief to enjoin the Penitentiary to provide inmates with access to a sweat lodge for religious purposes. One of the plaintiffs also sought the return of certain legal and religious papers, which he alleged the prison had confiscated, and asked for money damages.

On March 13, 1981, the court (Judge W.C. Stewart) approved a consent decree, under which the defendants agreed to find and return the missing legal and religious materials ff and to reimburse the plaintiff for any lost items. The State also agreed to allow a sweat lodge to be constructed on the grounds of the Iowa State Penitentiary. Prison officials, however, retained the authority to schedule visits to the sweat lodge, to decide where the lodge could be built, and to temporarily suspend access to the sweat lodge when necessary.

We do not have the docket in this case and have no information on subsequent litigation.

Rebekah Henn Sullivan - 08/16/2005


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
General
Loss or damage to property
Religious programs / policies
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Type of Facility
Government-run
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. ยง 1983
Defendant(s) Iowa State Penitentiary
Plaintiff Description American Indian prisoners of the Iowa State Penitentiary seeking to restrain prison officials from denying them their right to the reasonable exercise of their native Indian religion and requesting access to a traditional Indian sweat lodge at the prison
Indexed Lawyer Organizations None on record
Class action status sought No
Class action status granted Unknown
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief Damages
Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement
Source of Relief Settlement
Form of Settlement Court Approved Settlement or Consent Decree
Order Duration 1981 - 1981
Case Closing Year n/a
Case Ongoing Unknown
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)
No docket sheet currently in the collection
General Documents
Consent Judgment 03/13/1981 (S.D. Iowa)
PC-IA-0005-0001.pdf | Detail
Judges Stuart, William Corwin (S.D. Iowa)
PC-IA-0005-0001
Monitors/Masters None on record
Plaintiff's Lawyers Allen, Gordon E. (Iowa)
PC-IA-0005-0001
Blue Dog, Kurt V. (Colorado)
PC-IA-0005-0001
Echo-Hawk, Walter R. (Colorado)
PC-IA-0005-0001
Defendant's Lawyers Mann, Thomas Jr. (Iowa)
PC-IA-0005-0001
Other Lawyers None on record

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