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Case Name United States v. Michigan PC-MI-0009
Docket / Court 97-71514 ( E.D. Mich. )
State/Territory Michigan
Case Type(s) Prison Conditions
Attorney Organization U.S. Dept. of Justice Civil Rights Division
Case Summary
On May 27, 1994, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) initiated an investigation into the conditions of confinement at the Crane Correctional Facility in Coldwater, Michigan and the Scott Correctional Facility in Plymouth, Michigan (medium security prisons for women) pursuant to the Civil Rights of ... read more >
On May 27, 1994, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) initiated an investigation into the conditions of confinement at the Crane Correctional Facility in Coldwater, Michigan and the Scott Correctional Facility in Plymouth, Michigan (medium security prisons for women) pursuant to the Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act (CRIPA), 42 U.S.C. § 1997. The state refused to allow the DOJ access to the prisons to conduct an investigation, and declined to negotiate with the DOJ or resolve the allegations.

On March 27, 1995, the DOJ issued a findings letter regarding the results of the CRIPA investigation, which was conducted solely through prisoner interviews during visiting hours, as the DOJ had not been allowed access to the physical facilities. The letter detailed findings of sexual abuse of female inmates by guards (including rapes), lack of adequate medical care, lack of mental health services, grossly deficient sanitation, crowding, and other threats to the physical safety and well-being of inmates in violation of their constitutional rights. On March 10, 1997, the DOJ filed a lawsuit against the state of Michigan under 42 U.S.C. § 1997 in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan, Flint office, alleging that the state had violated the rights of women prisoners at Scott and Crane to be free from sexual misconduct and unlawful invasions of privacy, and to receive appropriate medical and mental health care. The medical and mental health care claims were later withdrawn.

The case had received the docket number 97-40053 in Flint, but it was quickly transferred to Detroit and given a new docket number (97-71514). It was consolidated for discovery purposes with another case brought by women prisoners, Nunn v. Mich. Dept. of Corrections, 2:96-cv-71416, (E.D. Mich) (PC-MI-0017).

After considerable discovery, the state and the federal government (but not the private plaintiffs in Nunn) entered into a Settlement Agreement on May 25, 1999. The District Court (Judge John Corbett O'Meara) approved the settlement agreement as a court order on September 30, 1999. The agreement provided for considerable changes to Michigan Department of Corrections (MDOC) policies and procedures relating to sexual misconduct. Among other things, the agreement included: preemployment screenings, staff trainings, inmate education, facilitation of inmate and staff reporting of sexual misconduct allegations, investigation of sexual misconduct allegations, approach and response to misconduct, monitoring of inmate bathroom, dressing and shower areas, pat-down searches, and inmate screenings. It further set forth terms for quality assurance and for DOJ monitoring for compliance with the terms of the agreement.

Following execution of this settlement agreement, the case was conditionally dismissed by Judge O'Meara on September 28, 1999, pending Michigan's compliance with the terms of the agreement. The case was placed on the court's inactive docket during this time, and the parties agreed upon an expert, Patrick McManus, to assess Michigan's compliance with the settlement agreement three and six months after its execution. The U.S. filed a memo in support of its stipulation to conditionally dismiss the case in March 2000 indicating that the expert had found Michigan to be in substantial compliance with the terms of the settlement.

The court entered an order of conditional dismissal of the case on August 17, 2000. As part of its subsequent compliance efforts, the Michigan Department of Corrections established a policy barring men from serving as resident officers in housing units in women's prisons, and began the process of replacing those positions with female officers.

After the directive to staff housing units with female officers, male corrections officers filed a separate lawsuit alleging gender discrimination. (Everson v. Michigan Dept. of Corrections, 391 F.3d 737 (6th Cir. 2004). In December 2002, the compliance expert filed a final report concluding that defendants were in substantial compliance with much of the agreement, but because of Michigan's ongoing efforts to staff housing units with female officers, that portion of the settlement would be subject to additional monitoring. Judge O'Meara granted the parties' stipulation for Partial Unconditional Dismissal of the case in February 2003, agreeing to up to one year of continued monitoring only on the issue of female housing guards, given a pending appeal in the Everson case (the district court in that case had found the Department of Corrections could not designate such positions as "female-only" - that issue was being contested on appeal). In October 2004, the defendants sought full unconditional dismissal of the case, given that the timeline for continued monitoring of the housing situation had expired (even though the Everson decision remained pending). The 6th Circuit finally issued its ruling in Everson in December 2004 (391 F.3d 737, 6th Cir. 2004), concluding that female gender was a bonafide occupational qualification for housing unit guards in women's prisons. Rehearing en banc in the Everson case was denied in March 2005.

Subsequently, on September 29, 2005, the Defendants withdrew their Motion for full unconditional dismissal of this action. Thus, all that was left of the case was the issue of the staffing of housing units by women. That issue was finally dismissed on April 25, 2007, after the state apparently attested that only female officers were assigned to housing units in all facilities covered by the settlement agreement.

Denise Lieberman - 10/09/2005
- 08/13/2014
Carolyn Weltman - 02/21/2016


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Affected Gender
Female
Discrimination-basis
Sex discrimination
General
Assault/abuse by staff
Sex w/ staff; sexual harassment by staff
Medical/Mental Health
Medical care, general
Mental health care, general
Plaintiff Type
U.S. Dept of Justice plaintiff
Type of Facility
Government-run
Causes of Action Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act (CRIPA), 42 U.S.C. § 1997 et seq.
Defendant(s) Michigan Department of Corrections
Michigan Department of Corrections
Plaintiff Description United States Department of Justice Civil Rights Division
Indexed Lawyer Organizations U.S. Dept. of Justice Civil Rights Division
Class action status sought No
Class action status granted No
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
Conditional Dismissal
Order Duration 1999 - 2007
Case Closing Year 2007
Case Ongoing No
Case Listing PC-MI-0017 : Nunn v. Michigan Department of Corrections (E.D. Mich.)
PC-MI-0006 : Knop v. Johnson (W.D. Mich.)
EE-MI-0183 : Everson v. Michigan Department of Corrections (E.D. Mich.)
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)
(E.D. Mich.) 04/25/2007
PC-MI-0009-9001 PDF | Detail
PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Memorandum re: Proposed Investigation of the Crane Correctional Facility and the Scott Correctional Facility, Coldwater and Plymouth, Michigan 05/27/1994
PC-MI-0009-0007 PDF | Detail
Document Source: U.S. Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division, Special Litigation Section
Notice Letter re: CRIPA Investigation of the Crane Correctional Facility and the Scott Correctional Facility, Coldwater and Plymouth, Michigan 06/09/1994
PC-MI-0009-0008 PDF | Detail
Document Source: U.S. Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division, Special Litigation Section
Findings Letter re: CRIPA Investigation of the Crane Correctional Facility and the Scott Correctional Facility, Coldwater and Plymouth, Michigan 03/27/1995
PC-MI-0009-0009 PDF | Detail
Document Source: U.S. Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division, Special Litigation Section
Complaint 03/10/1997
PC-MI-0009-0010 PDF | Detail
Document Source: U.S. Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division, Special Litigation Section
Press Release: "Justice Department Sues Michigan Over Conditions at Women's Prisons" 03/10/1997
PC-MI-0009-0011 PDF | Detail
Document Source: U.S. Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division, Special Litigation Section
Settlement Agreement 05/25/1999
PC-MI-0009-0001 PDF | Detail
United States' Memorandum in Support of Stipulation to Dismiss 03/07/2000
PC-MI-0009-0002 PDF | Detail
Defendants' Motion for Full Unconditional Dismissal Pursuant to the February 19, 2003 Stipulation Between the Parties 10/28/2004
PC-MI-0009-0003 PDF | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Plaintiffs' Response and Brief in Opposition to Defendants' Motion for Full Unconditional Dismissal 11/19/2004
PC-MI-0009-0005 PDF | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Defendants' Reply to Plaintiffs' Response and Brief in Opposition to Defendants' Motion for Full Unconditional Dismissal 12/01/2004
PC-MI-0009-0006 PDF | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Withdrawal of Defendant's Motion to Dismiss 09/29/2005
PC-MI-0009-0004 PDF | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Defendants' Motion to Reinstate and Brief in Support 12/13/2006
PC-MI-0009-0012 PDF | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Stipulation and Order of Dismissal 04/25/2007 (E.D. Mich.)
PC-MI-0009-0013 PDF | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Judges Cohn, Avern Levin (E.D. Mich.)
PC-MI-0009-0005
Goldman, Marc L (C.D. Cal.) [Magistrate]
PC-MI-0009-0002 | PC-MI-0009-0005
O'Meara, John Corbett (E.D. Mich.)
PC-MI-0009-0001 | PC-MI-0009-0002 | PC-MI-0009-0003 | PC-MI-0009-0004 | PC-MI-0009-0005 | PC-MI-0009-0006 | PC-MI-0009-0013
Monitors/Masters McManus, Patrick D. (Minnesota)
PC-MI-0009-0001 | PC-MI-0009-0003
Plaintiff's Lawyers Brown Cutlar, Shanetta Y. (District of Columbia)
PC-MI-0009-0001 | PC-MI-0009-0002 | PC-MI-0009-0010
Davis, Tawana E. (District of Columbia)
PC-MI-0009-0001 | PC-MI-0009-0010
Dettmer, Michael Hayes (Michigan)
PC-MI-0009-0008 | PC-MI-0009-0009
Green, Saul A. (Michigan)
PC-MI-0009-0001 | PC-MI-0009-0002 | PC-MI-0009-0008 | PC-MI-0009-0009 | PC-MI-0009-0010 | PC-MI-0009-9001
Labelle, Deborah A. (Michigan)
PC-MI-0009-0003 | PC-MI-0009-0004 | PC-MI-0009-0005 | PC-MI-0009-0006
Lee, Bill Lann (California)
PC-MI-0009-0001 | PC-MI-0009-0002
Masling, Mark S. (District of Columbia)
PC-MI-0009-0001 | PC-MI-0009-0002 | PC-MI-0009-0010
Nelson, Mellie H. (District of Columbia)
PC-MI-0009-0002 | PC-MI-0009-0010
Patrick, Deval L. (District of Columbia)
PC-MI-0009-0007 | PC-MI-0009-0008 | PC-MI-0009-0009
Peabody, Arthur E. Jr. (District of Columbia)
PC-MI-0009-0007
Pinzler, Isabelle Katz (District of Columbia)
PC-MI-0009-0010
Reno, Molly H. (Michigan)
PC-MI-0009-0003 | PC-MI-0009-0005
Reno, Janet (District of Columbia)
PC-MI-0009-0010
Rosenbaum, Steven H. (District of Columbia)
PC-MI-0009-0001 | PC-MI-0009-0002 | PC-MI-0009-0010 | PC-MI-0009-9001
Shoenberg, Dana (District of Columbia)
PC-MI-0009-0001 | PC-MI-0009-0002
Soble, Richard (Michigan)
PC-MI-0009-0005
Defendant's Lawyers Cox, Michael A. (Michigan)
PC-MI-0009-0003 | PC-MI-0009-0004 | PC-MI-0009-0006 | PC-MI-0009-0012
Edick, David G. (Michigan)
PC-MI-0009-0009
Friedman, Leo H. (Michigan)
PC-MI-0009-0001 | PC-MI-0009-0004 | PC-MI-0009-0012 | PC-MI-0009-9001
Hart, Wallace T. (Michigan)
PC-MI-0009-9001
Kelley, Frank J. (Michigan)
PC-MI-0009-0008 | PC-MI-0009-0009
Martin, Bill (Michigan)
PC-MI-0009-0001
Matus, Mark W. (Michigan)
PC-MI-0009-0001 | PC-MI-0009-0003 | PC-MI-0009-0005 | PC-MI-0009-9001
Monticello, Frank J. (Michigan)
PC-MI-0009-0003 | PC-MI-0009-0005 | PC-MI-0009-0006
Nickerson, Michael A. (Michigan)
PC-MI-0009-0001 | PC-MI-0009-9001
Shamraj, Marie (Michigan)
PC-MI-0009-9001
Thom, Kevin M. (Michigan)
PC-MI-0009-9001
Thurber, John L. (Michigan)
PC-MI-0009-9001
Other Lawyers None on record

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