University of Michigan Law School
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Case Name Blaney v. Commissioner of Correction PC-MA-0009
Docket / Court 74-88 ( State Court )
State/Territory Massachusetts
Case Type(s) Prison Conditions
Case Summary
On November 20, 1974, prisoners of the commonwealth of Massachusetts filed a class action lawsuit under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against the Massachusetts Department of Corrections in the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts. The plaintiffs, represented by the Massachusetts Correctional Legal Services, ... read more >
On November 20, 1974, prisoners of the commonwealth of Massachusetts filed a class action lawsuit under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against the Massachusetts Department of Corrections in the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts. The plaintiffs, represented by the Massachusetts Correctional Legal Services, alleged that their civil rights had been violated by the conditions of their protective custody in the prisons, which included very little exercise, no work program, restricted bathing opportunities, and no substantial opportunity to mingle or take meals with other prisoners.

On April 5, 1977, the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts (Judge Kaplan) entered judgment for the plaintiffs, specifying that reasonable protective custody required safe confinement, opportunity to associate with other prisoners, access to recreational and religious facilities, and opportunities for study, work, exercise, and proper medical care. The defendants appealed this decision.

On February 6, 1978, the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts (Judge Hennessey, Judge Braucher, Judge Wilkins, Judge Liacos, and Judge Abrams) affirmed the previous judgment in the case. Blaney v. Commissioner of Correction, 372 N.E.2d 770 (Mass. 1978).

On March 15, 1980, the parties entered into a settlement agreement, which they modified in June 1980. The modified agreement stated that protective custody inmates would be entitled to the same standard of treatment given to inmates in the general population. It also stated that these inmates were to be given at least five hours per day of "meaningful activity," one hour of exercise per day, jobs, counseling, library privileges, religious services, visitation, and a classification review each six months. We have no further information on the proceedings in this case.

Kristen Sagar - 02/12/2007


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
General
Classification / placement
Counseling
Food service / nutrition / hydration
Law library access
Library (non-law) access
Medical care
Protective custody
Recreation / Exercise
Religious programs / policies
Sanitation / living conditions
Visiting
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. § 1983
Defendant(s) Massachusetts Department of Corrections
Plaintiff Description prisoners of the commonwealth of Massachusetts
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 Settlement
Form of Settlement Court Approved Settlement or Consent Decree
Order Duration 1980 - n/a
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
Opinion 02/06/1978 (372 N.E.2d 770)
PC-MA-0009-0003.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: Google Scholar
Final Amended Agreement for Judgment 01/03/1979
PC-MA-0009-0002.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Judges Wilkins, Herbert P. (State Supreme Court)
PC-MA-0009-0003
Monitors/Masters None on record
Plaintiff's Lawyers Flynn, Joseph F (Massachusetts)
PC-MA-0009-0003
Marcus, Arlene (Massachusetts)
PC-MA-0009-0003
Saltonstall, Stephen (Massachusetts)
PC-MA-0009-0002
Defendant's Lawyers Donahue, Michael C. (Massachusetts)
PC-MA-0009-0002
Mendlesohn, John A. (Massachusetts)
PC-MA-0009-0002
Troyer, Terence (Massachusetts)
PC-MA-0009-0003
Other Lawyers None on record

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