On May 19, 1977, five female prisoners at the Huron Valley Womenís Prison in Ypsilanti, Michigan filed a class action lawsuit under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against the Michigan Department of Corrections in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan. The plaintiffs, represented by the Center for Urban Law, Wayne County Neighborhood Legal Services, and Michigan Legal Services, asked the court for declaratory and injunctive relief, alleging that the defendants violated their constitutional rights by failing to provide rehabilitative opportunities to female inmates equal to those provided to male inmates. Specifically, the plaintiffs alleged disparities in educational degrees available, vocational courses, library facilities, law library facilities, halfway homes, correctional camps, prison industry, discrimination in prison wages.
On December 23, 1977, the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan (Judge John Feikens) granted the class certification, holding that the inevitable turnover of the stateís female inmate population did not preclude class certification, but rather made it advantageous. Glover v. Johnson, 85 F.R.D. 1 (E.D.Mich. Dec. 23, 1977).
On October 25, 1979, the district court (Judge Feikens) granted declaratory and injunctive relief to the plaintiffs, holding: 1) that the educational and vocational programs offered to women inmates were markedly poorer than those offered to male inmates and this parity denied equal protection; 2) that the record demonstrated the constitutional inadequacy of the assistance given by the state to ensure the free exercise of the women inmatesí right of access to the courts; and 3) that the stateís use of a county jail as a temporary overflow facility was prohibited by the mandate of the state legislature setting the minimum conditions of confinement. Glover v. Johnson, 478 F.Supp. 1075 (E.D.Mich. 1979).
On January 2, 1980, the defendants submitted to the court their plan detailing the steps to be taken to comply with the courtís orders. On April 6, 1981, after lengthy negotiations, the district court (Judge Feikens) entered its final order. The court ordered the defendants to do the following: 1) provide the female inmates with a post-secondary education program comparable to that available to male inmates; 2) to assist and cooperate in the establishment and operation of a baccalaureate program which any four-year college desires to offer to inmates, ensuring that the women are given the same opportunities as the men; 3) to give women prisoners the same apprenticeship opportunities provided to male inmates in accordance with the Standards of Apprenticeship agreed upon by the parties; 4) to establish a two prison industries (manufacturing license plate tabs and chair cushions) at Huron Valley by January 1982, paying retroactive and future wages into a trust fund for the prisoners; 5) to review and modify the wage policy in order to ensure that female prisoners receive fair wages for their work; 6) to keep the law library up to date; and 7) to transfer all female inmates at the Kalamazoo County Jail to Camp Pontiac or to Huron Valley within 125 days. Glover v. Johnson, 510 F.Supp. 1019 (E.D.Mich. 1981).
The plaintiffs asked the court to award them attorneysí fees and expenses for the litigation. On February 3, 1982, the district court (Judge Feikens) granted the fee award, ordering the defendants to pay the plaintiffs $92,939.32.
In 1980, Spring Arbor State College (SASC) began offering baccalaureate courses to male inmates, and the program received state money each year thereafter. None of these services were provided to female inmates, and on January 22, 1986, the plaintiffs in this case asked the court to hold the defendants in contempt and impose sanctions on them for failing to comply with the courtís orders. The defendants responded by arranging for SASC to offer baccalaureate courses at Huron Valley, but they refused to provide such services to qualified female inmates residing at the newly opened Florence Crane Correctional Facility (ìCraneî).
October 20, 1986, the district court (Judge Feikens) issued an injunction ordering the defendants to provide the courses as both Huron Valley and Crane beginning October 21, 1986. On October 29, 1986, the plaintiffs asked the court to hold the defendants in contempt for failing to act upon this direct order from the court. On April 21, 1987, the court appointed Dr. Richard Meisler administrator to design and implement educational programs for female inmates on a parity with male inmates. The court gave the administrator full power to contract for educational services with the educational institutions necessary to achieve parity. The court ordered the defendants to bear the cost of the plans designed and implemented by the administrator and not to try to circumvent the order by reducing the educational programs presently provided to male inmates. The court further ordered that any state officers necessary to provide complete relief pursuant to this order be joined as party defendants to the lawsuit. Glover v. Johnson, 659 F.Supp. 621 (E.D.Mich. 1987). On June 12, 1987, the court supplemented this decision by ordering the defendants to pay the administrator $1000.00 per week for his work. Glover v. Johnson, 622 F.Supp. 820 (E.D.Mich. 1987). The defendants appealed the entire order.
On September 24, 1987, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit (Judge Albert Joseph Engel, Judge Gilbert Stroud Merritt, Jr., and Judge James Leo Ryan) vacated the district courtís decision and remanded the case. The court held that the issuance of the injunction was not supported by sufficient findings of fact and that the evidence did not support the appointment of an administrator. Glover v. Johnson, 855 F.2d 277 (6th Cir. 1988).
On September 14, 1989, the district court (Judge Feikens) held the defendants in contempt, detailing extensive findings of fact that led the court to the conclusion that the defendants had failed to implement the courtís orders in almost every respect. The court held that the defendantsí failure to provide female inmates with the required educational and vocational opportunities required the imposition of both a defendant-appointed administrator to design and implement a remedy and a court-appointed monitor to oversee the progress of the defendants and the administrator. The court then ordered the defendants to appoint the administrator within 60 days and to present the court with a remedial plan. Glover v. Johnson, 721 F.Supp. 808 (E.D.Mich. 1989). The defendants appealed.
On May 30, 1991, the Sixth Circuit (Judge Cornelia Groefsema Kennedy, Judge George Clifton Edwards, Jr., and Judge James Leo Ryan) affirmed the district courtís decision in part and reversed it in part. The court held that: 1) the finding that the prison officials had not used their best efforts to comply with the district courtís order was supported by the evidence; 2) that the prison officials should not have been held in contempt for failing to comply with certain measures which were never included in the courtís order; and 3) that the prison officialsí continuing failure to comply warranted an order requiring them to appoint a special administrator. Glover v. Johnson, 934 F.2d 703 (6th Cir. 1991).
On December 6, 1991, the defendants submitted their remedial plan to the district court in compliance with that courtís order of September 14, 1989. The plan provided for remedial action in the areas of paralegal training, paralegal trainee wages, law libraries, associate degree programming, baccalaureate degree programming, off-grounds privileges, and apprenticeships in the areas of medical records, building maintenance, dental assistance, painting, and carpentry.
On December 1, 1993, the defendants informed the district court of their unilateral decision to discontinue the paralegal training program at Crane due to a low level of interest among the inmates, transferring the inmates who were interested in the program to another facility where the program would still be offered. The plaintiffs filed an emergency motion asking the court to enjoin the defendants from discontinuing the program. On December 21, 1993, the defendants filed an emergency motion, asking the district court to allow them to discontinue the program. On January 14, 1994, the district court (Judge Feikens) ordered the defendants to continue to provide the paralegal training classes at Crane as previously ordered. The court further ordered the defendants not to transfer inmates interested in the training program to another facility in order to avoid compliance with the courtís orders. Glover v. Johnson, No. 77-CV-71229, 1994 WL 799392 (E.D.Mich. Jan 14, 1994). The defendants appealed. On February 2, 1994, the Sixth Circuit dismissed the appeal for lack of jurisdiction. Glover v. Johnson, Nos. 93-1599, 93-1824, 1994 WL 28808 (6th Cir. [Mich.] Feb. 2, 1994).
On February 28, 1994, the defendants allowed the stateís contract with Prison Litigation Services (who aided the prisoners in child custody matters) to lapse, with no plans to provide further legal assistance to the plaintiffs. The plaintiffs asked the district court to hold the defendants in contempt for unilaterally eliminating this legal assistance without asking the court. On April 29, 1994, the district court (Judge Feikens) held the defendants in contempt and granted injunctive relief to the plaintiffs. The court held that the female inmates had a right to legal assistance in this area regardless of their gender, ordering the defendants to provide such assistance and threatening them with contempt penalties if they do not immediately comply. Glover v. Johnson, 850 F.Supp. 592 (E.D.Mich. 1994). The defendants appealed.
Several months later, the defendants asked the district court to modify the order dealing with compliance monitoring in the area of work pass programs established through the remedial plan submitted to the court in 1991. On March 14, 1995, the district court (Judge Feikens) denied the request, holding that although the defendants had made significant improvements in compliance, they had not substantially complied with the courtís orders as a whole. Glover v. Johnson, 879 F.Supp. 752 (E.D.Mich. 1995).
On February 14, 1996, the Sixth Circuit (Judge Harry Walker Wellford, Judge David Aldrich Nelson, and Judge Richard Fred Suhrheinrich) reversed the district courtís April 29, 1994, decision regarding the lapse of the stateís contract with Prison Litigation Services. The court held that the district courtís finding of contempt was an abuse of discretion, since the district courtís prior order did not require that the state fund legal assistance in any particular area of law, and that the fundamental right of access to courts did not require the state to provide legal assistance for inmates in connection with child custody matters. Glover v. Johnson, 75 F.3d 264 (6th Cir. 1996).
Between July 1995 and January 1996, the plaintiffs filed four motions asking the district court to hold the defendants in contempt for failure to comply with the remedial plan established in 1991. On July 19, 1996, the district court (Judge Feikens) held the defendants in contempt, ordering them to pay $500 per day until they complied with the courtís orders regarding access to courts. Beginning on October 1, 1996, the fine would increase to $5000 per day. The court established the same penalty structures for the defendantsí failure to comply in the areas of vocational programming and apprenticeship programs. Glover v. Johnson, 931 F.Supp. 1360 (E.D. Mich. 1996).
On January 23, 1997, the defendants asked the court to immediately terminate the remedial plans and court orders in the case pursuant to the Prison Litigation Reform Act (PLRA). On February 21, 1997, the district court (Judge Feikens) denied the request, holding that the PLRA section in question was unconstitutional as a violation of the principle of separation of powers. Glover v. Johnson, 957 F.Supp. 110 (E.D.Mich. 1997). The defendants appealed.
On March 2, 1998, the Sixth Circuit (Judge Wellford, Judge Ryan, and Judge Martha Craig Daughtrey) partially affirmed and partially reversed the district courtís decision. The court held that: 1) federal court intervention into the operation of the stateís prison system was required to end if the prison officials could demonstrate that they had remedied the constitutional violations originally found by the district court; 2) that contempt sanctions could not be imposed based upon the alleged failure to comply with the terms of remedial plans that had not been adopted as court orders; 3) that failure to comply with the order ìstrongly urgingî the officials to motivate female inmates to apply for apprenticeships could not be the basis for contempt sanctions; 4) that the attorney fee provision of the PLRA did not apply retroactively; and 5) that the inmates were the prevailing parties, entitled to attorney fees for work done in connection with the orders awarding them relief that were later vacated by the district court. Glover v. Johnson, 138 F.3d 229 (6th Cir. 1998).
On July 7, 1998, the plaintiffs again asked the court to impose contempt sanctions on the defendants. On July 23, 1998, the district court (Judge Feikens) granted the motion, holding that, although the defendants had made some progress in compliance, sanctions were still warranted for their failure to fully implement vocational programs. Glover v. Johnson, 9 F.Supp.2d 799 (E.D.Mich. 1998). By August 25, 1998, the defendants had paid $300,000 in contempt fines, and on that date, the district court ordered them to pay an additional $85,000. The defendants appealed these fines, asking the Sixth Circuit to order the district court to return the money. On December 8, 1999, the Sixth Circuit (Judge Ralph B. Guy, Jr., Judge Joseph M. Hood, and Judge Danny Julian Boggs) affirmed the district courtís award of the contempt sanctions, holding that the award was warranted in light of the defendantsí behavior. Glover v. Johnson, 199 F.3d 310 (6th Cir. 1999).
On February 19, 1999, the district court (Judge Feikens) issued an opinion in response to the Sixth Circuitís March 2, 1998 remand decision. On remand, the district court granted the defendantsí motion to terminate its jurisdiction over the areas of the case in which it found the defendants to be substantially compliant. The court thus terminated its jurisdiction in the areas of equal protection in educational, vocational, apprenticeship, and work-pass opportunities. Glover v. Johnson, 35 F.Supp.2d 1010 (E.D.Mich. 1999). The plaintiffs appealed.
On December 14, 1999, the Sixth Circuit (Judge Ryan, Judge Wellford, and Judge Daughtrey) affirmed the decision, holding that the district courtís findings were not clearly erroneous. Glover v. Johnson, 198 F.3d 557 (6th Cir. 1999). Our docket (current as of May 27, 2006) ends on July 10, 2002, when the parties were negotiating attorneys fees.Kristen Sagar - 11/17/2006