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Case Name Hershberger v. Scaletta PC-IA-0021
Docket / Court 91-191 ( N.D. Iowa )
State/Territory Iowa
Case Type(s) Prison Conditions
Case Summary
On August 2, 1991, seven inmates at the Iowa Men's Reformatory (IMR) brought a Section 1983 action against prison officials in the United District Court for the Northern District of Iowa. The plaintiffs, represented by private counsel, challenged the IMR mail policy denying free legal postage to ... read more >
On August 2, 1991, seven inmates at the Iowa Men's Reformatory (IMR) brought a Section 1983 action against prison officials in the United District Court for the Northern District of Iowa. The plaintiffs, represented by private counsel, challenged the IMR mail policy denying free legal postage to indigent inmates, and the IMR rule requiring inmates to keep moving while exercising and also allowing officials to rescind exercise privileges without due process of law.

In 1993, upon the parties' consent, the case was tried before Magistrate John A. Harvey. The Magistrate found in favor of the plaintiffs on their claim that the IMR policy on legal mail denied them meaningful access to the courts. The court enjoined IMR from denying free postage to indigent inmates for legal purposes, charging inmates 50 cents per month for having a negative account balance as the result of purchasing legal postage, and forbidding inmates from exceeding $7.50 indebtedness for legal postage. IMR was further required to supply each indigent inmate weekly with at least one free stamped envelope for use for legal mail. However, the court held in favor of the defendants on the plaintiffs' challenge to the IMR exercise rule, finding the regulation did not violate due process or Eighth Amendment rights. Hershberger v. Scaletta, 861 F.Supp. 1470 (N.D. Iowa 1993).

Parties on both sides appealed to the Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit. The Court of Appeals (Judges Pasco M. Bowman II, Gerald W. Heaney, and C. Arlen Beam) affirmed the magistrate judge's order in all respects. In a concurring opinion, Judge Heaney questioned the majority's reasoning with respect to inmates' personal mail, feeling that indigent inmates should have some access to free postage for personal mail as well. Hershberger v. Scaletta, 33 F.3d 955 (8th Cir. 1994).

Chris Sullivan - 08/20/2005


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
General
Mail
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Type of Facility
Government-run
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. ยง 1983
Defendant(s) Iowa Men's Reformatory
Plaintiff Description Inmates alleging that prison's policies regarding legal postage for indigent inmates, and prison's rules regarding exercising and permitting officials to rescind exercise privileges without due process in response to misbehavior, were unconstitutional
Indexed Lawyer Organizations None on record
Class action status sought Unknown
Class action status granted Unknown
Prevailing Party Mixed
Public Int. Lawyer No
Nature of Relief Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement
Source of Relief Litigation
Form of Settlement None on record
Order Duration 1993 - n/a
Case Closing Year 1994
Case Ongoing No
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)
91-191 (N.D. Iowa) 12/14/1994
PC-IA-0021-9000.pdf | Detail
PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Order 10/04/1993 (861 F.Supp. 1470) (N.D. Iowa)
PC-IA-0021-0001.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: Google Scholar
Opinion 10/20/1994 (33 F.3d 955)
PC-IA-0021-0002.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: Google Scholar
Judges Beam, Clarence Arlen (D. Neb., Eighth Circuit)
PC-IA-0021-0002
Bowman, Pasco Middleton II (Eighth Circuit)
PC-IA-0021-0002
Heaney, Gerald William (Eighth Circuit)
PC-IA-0021-0002
Jarvey, John Alfred (S.D. Iowa, N.D. Iowa) [Magistrate]
PC-IA-0021-0001 | PC-IA-0021-9000
Monitors/Masters None on record
Plaintiff's Lawyers Mears, Philip B. (Iowa)
PC-IA-0021-0001 | PC-IA-0021-0002 | PC-IA-0021-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Ensign, Kristin W. (Iowa)
PC-IA-0021-0001 | PC-IA-0021-9000
Hill, William A. (Iowa)
PC-IA-0021-0002
Other Lawyers None on record

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