University of Michigan Law School
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Case Name White v. Morris PC-OH-0016
Docket / Court 88-470 ( S.D. Ohio )
State/Territory Ohio
Case Type(s) Prison Conditions
Case Summary
On May 26, 1988, inmates at the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility in Lucasville, Ohio filed a class-action lawsuit under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against the Ohio Department of Corrections in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio. The plaintiffs alleged that their constitutional ... read more >
On May 26, 1988, inmates at the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility in Lucasville, Ohio filed a class-action lawsuit under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against the Ohio Department of Corrections in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio. The plaintiffs alleged that their constitutional rights had been violated by the prison's policy of double celling inmates on a racially segregated basis.

On June 11, 1992, the parties came to an agreement in the case, and they requested the court to enter it as a consent decree. On December 1, 1992, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio (Judge S. Arthur Spiegel) approved a consent decree in the case, finding it to be fair, adequate, and reasonable to address the constitutional problems at issue. The decree remedied the racial segregation by providing for random cell assignment. White v. Morris, 811 F.Supp. 341 (S.D.Ohio 1992).

On April 11, 1993, the worst prison riot in Ohio history, and one of the worst in the nation's history, erupted at the Southern Ohio Correctional facility. Nine inmates and one corrections officer were murdered and many others killed during the eleven-day standoff. During the standoff negotiations, as well as after the riot, the prisoners repeatedly cited integrated celling as a factor contributing to the tense atmosphere at the prison. As part of their agreement to end the siege, the prisoners demanded that the consent decree in this case be reviewed. The siege finally ended on April 21, 1993. After the riot ended, the prison again assigned cells on the basis of race, arguing that it was necessary due to racial tension and records that were destroyed during the crisis.

On May 24, 1993, the defendants asked the court to temporarily modify the consent decree. They asked the court to allowing the implementation of emergency procedures which would allow the prison to assign an inmate to a cell based on race if a written finding is made that the inmate harbors racial hostility that would not allow him to peacefully inhabit an integrated cell. The plaintiffs asked the court to deny the defendants' request for modification of the decree, arguing that the defendants had not followed proper procedures (spelled out in the consent decree) for altering the settlement, and that race-based cell assignment is unconstitutional.

On August 31, 1993, the district court (Judge Spiegel) granted the defendants' request to temporarily modify the decree, holding that the change was warranted in view of the intervening prison riot. The court ordered the defendants to reconstruct the destroyed prison records within six weeks, to file all written reports required by the consent decree within three months, and to fully reestablish implementation of the consent decree's random celling policy by January 1, 1994. The court further ordered the defendants to institute an intensive sensitivity training program for the correctional staff at the prison and to submit monthly reports to the court detailing the progress of this training. White v. Morris, 832 F.Supp. 1129 (S.D.Ohio 1993).

On June 22, 1994, the plaintiffs asked the court to award them attorneys' fees and expenses. On September 21, 1994, the district court (Judge Spiegel) granted the plaintiffs $21,690.00 in attorneys fees and $323.66 in expenses. White v. Morris, 863 F.Supp. 607 (S.D.Ohio 1994).

On October 23, 1996, the defendants asked the court to terminate the consent decree pursuant to the Prison Litigation Reform Act. On January 13, 1998, the district court (Judge Spiegel) granted the defendants' motion, terminated the consent decree, and closed the case.

Kristen Sagar - 08/19/2007


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Discrimination-basis
Race discrimination
General
Assault/abuse by residents/inmates/students
Classification / placement
Staff (number, training, qualifications, wages)
Type of Facility
Government-run
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. § 1983
Defendant(s) Ohio Department of Corrections
Southern Ohio Correctional Facility
Plaintiff Description inmates at the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility in Lucasville, Ohio
Indexed Lawyer Organizations None on record
Class action status sought Yes
Class action status granted Yes
Prevailing Party Mixed
Public Int. Lawyer No
Nature of Relief Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement
Source of Relief Settlement
Form of Settlement Court Approved Settlement or Consent Decree
Order Duration 1992 - 1998
Case Closing Year 1998
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)
88-470 (S.D. Ohio) 01/13/1998
PC-OH-0016-9000.pdf | Detail
PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Order Approving the Proposed Settlement 12/01/1992 (811 F.Supp. 341) (S.D. Ohio)
PC-OH-0016-0003.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: Google Scholar
Order Granting Modification of Consent Decree 08/31/1993 (832 F.Supp. 1129) (S.D. Ohio)
PC-OH-0016-0001.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: Google Scholar
Order Granting Plaintiffs' Motion for Attorney's Fees 09/21/1994 (863 F.Supp. 607) (S.D. Ohio)
PC-OH-0016-0002.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: Google Scholar
Judges Spiegel, S. Arthur (S.D. Ohio)
PC-OH-0016-0001 | PC-OH-0016-0002 | PC-OH-0016-0003 | PC-OH-0016-9000
Monitors/Masters None on record
Plaintiff's Lawyers Laufman, Robert Franklin (Ohio)
PC-OH-0016-0001 | PC-OH-0016-0002 | PC-OH-0016-0003 | PC-OH-0016-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Angell, Robert C. (Ohio)
PC-OH-0016-9000
Myers, Robert Warren (Ohio)
PC-OH-0016-0002 | PC-OH-0016-9000
Zealey, Sharon J. (District of Columbia)
PC-OH-0016-0001 | PC-OH-0016-0002 | PC-OH-0016-0003 | PC-OH-0016-9000
Other Lawyers None on record

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