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Case Name Johnson v. Bell PC-MI-0015
Docket / Court 78-71747 ( E.D. Mich. )
State/Territory Michigan
Case Type(s) Prison Conditions
Case Summary
Federal correctional inmates sentenced to terms under the Youth Corrections Act ("YCA") filed a class action lawsuit in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan on behalf of approximately 200 inmates at the Federal Correctional Institution in Milan, Michigan, against ... read more >
Federal correctional inmates sentenced to terms under the Youth Corrections Act ("YCA") filed a class action lawsuit in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan on behalf of approximately 200 inmates at the Federal Correctional Institution in Milan, Michigan, against the Federal Bureau of Prisons and the United States Parole Commission, alleging that the Defendants violated the constitutional rights of the Plaintiffs by failing to comply with the YCA. Plaintiffs were represented by the Wayne State University Legal Clinic.

On March 12, 1980, the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan (Judge Phillip Pratt) found that the Defendants had failed to comply with the letter and spirit of the YCA in four significant respects. Johnson v. Bell, 487 F.Supp. 977 (E.D. Mich. 1980). First, defendants had failed to establish a classification process that assessed each individual inmate upon commitment in order to develop a personalized treatment plan as required by the YCA. Second, defendants had failed to segregate youth offenders from all other offenders, and to segregate committed youth offenders according to their needs, as required by the YCA. Third, defendants had failed to provide facilities, conditions of confinement, and treatment programs specifically tailored to youth offenders. The court declined to set forth guidelines for these programs, but held that the YCA required facilities and programs which were different than those at ordinary, adult-offender prisons. Finally, the defendants had failed to adapt its Parole Guidelines to the different needs of youth offenders, as recognized in the YCA. Because prior rulings in other districts, namely Brown v. Carlson, 431 F.Supp 755 (E.D. Wisc. 1977), and Watts v. Hadden, 469 F.Supp. 223 (D. Colo. 1979), had found similar issues of noncompliance with the YCA, the court felt the problem was systemic and best addressed by a comprehensive remedial plan; the parties were ordered to cooperate and present a mutually acceptable order.

In 1983, the district court approved a plan. Plaintiffs appealed. In 1985, the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit (Judge Nathaniel R. Jones) found that the plan approved by the District Court did not comply with the YCA in certain respects. Martin v. Attorney General of the United States, 771 F.2d 102 (6th Cir. 1985). Specifically, the court found that the Parole Commission's use of age as a factor in determining parole release dates did not violate the YCA; that the plan's placement of youth offenders in institutions based on their release residence did not comply with the individualized classification and treatment required by the YCA; and that the Parole Commission could not give greater attention to the rehabilitation and response of youth offenders than it did to adult offenders. (The YCA was appealed in 1984, but was applicable to plaintiffs' sentences.)

Subsequent litigation addressed the award of attorney's fees to plaintiffs' attorneys. In 1986, the District Court (Judge Pratt) awarded fees to plaintiffs' attorneys under the Equal Access to Justice Act. Johnson v. Meese, 654 F.Supp. 265 (E.D.Mich. 1986). In 1987, Judge Pratt declined to increase the hourly fees in response to inflation or the plaintiffs' arguments that the complexity of the case called for such an increase. Johnson v. Meese, 654 F.Supp. 270 (E.D.Mich. 1987).

We do not have the docket in this case.

Megan Raynor - 04/17/2006


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
General
Classification / placement
Counseling
Education
Recreation / Exercise
Type of Facility
Government-run
Causes of Action None on record
Defendant(s) Federal Bureau of Prisons
Plaintiff Description approximately 200 inmates at the Federal Correctional Institution in Milan, Michigan sentenced to terms under the Youth Corrections Act
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 Litigation
Form of Settlement None on record
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
Memorandum Opinion and Order 03/12/1980 (487 F.Supp. 977) (E.D. Mich.)
PC-MI-0015-0001.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: Google Scholar
Reported Opinion 08/19/1985 (771 F.2d 102)
PC-MI-0015-0004.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: Google Scholar
Memorandum Opinion and Order 09/04/1986 (654 F.Supp. 265) (E.D. Mich.)
PC-MI-0015-0002.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: Google Scholar
Memorandum Opinion and Order 02/27/1987 (654 F.Supp. 270) (E.D. Mich.)
PC-MI-0015-0003.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: Google Scholar
Judges Jones, Nathaniel Raphael (Sixth Circuit)
PC-MI-0015-0004
Pratt, Philip (E.D. Mich.)
PC-MI-0015-0001 | PC-MI-0015-0002 | PC-MI-0015-0003
Monitors/Masters None on record
Plaintiff's Lawyers Geer, Martin A. (Michigan)
PC-MI-0015-0001 | PC-MI-0015-0002 | PC-MI-0015-0003 | PC-MI-0015-0004
Reingold, Paul (Michigan)
PC-MI-0015-0002 | PC-MI-0015-0003
Defendant's Lawyers Chickinell, Rockne (Maryland)
PC-MI-0015-0004
Gaskin, Deborah J. (Michigan)
PC-MI-0015-0004
Ritteman, Ellen G. (Michigan)
PC-MI-0015-0001 | PC-MI-0015-0002 | PC-MI-0015-0003 | PC-MI-0015-0004
Shere, Joel M. (Michigan)
PC-MI-0015-0004
Wicks, L. Michael (Michigan)
PC-MI-0015-0001 | PC-MI-0015-0004
Other Lawyers None on record

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