On November 21, 1972, inmates of the South Dakota State Penitentiary filed a Section 1983 suit in the District Court for the Southern Division of South Dakota against the warden, prison officials, and the Governor. Plaintiffs complained of punishment for violations of prison rules without due process of law, prison officials reading and censoring incoming and outgoing mail, poor medical treatment, inadequate religious and cultural protections, inadequate work release and employment programs, and limited access to the law library. On December 26, 1972, a plaintiff subclass was created consisting of all Native American inmates. This subclass was represented by the Native American Rights Fund.
On December 1, 1972, the District Court (Judge Fred J. Nichol) granted the plaintiffs' motion for a preliminary injunction preventing defendants from opening, reading, or interfering with any legally related incoming or outgoing mail. In a partial consent decree filed on January 29, 1975, the parties agreed to terms on the opening and censorship of incoming and outgoing mail. Judge Nichol subsequently modified this decree in a July 11, 1986 order which allowed prison officials to withhold mail delivery from a particular inmate suspected of receiving LSD.
On August 24, 1973, the District Court issued an order granting the plaintiffs some relief on their due process claims, providing certain procedures that defendants must follow in inmate disciplining. This order was subsequently amended by orders on the following dates: November 21, 1973; November 23, 1973; December 6, 1974; March 10, 1975; and June, 1, 1978.
On May 22, 1974, a temporary restraining order was filed preventing defendants from taking any disciplinary action against any members of the Native American subclass for violations of a prison haircut rule. On April 4, 1975, after a hearing on the merits, the District Court held that the hair length regulations - as applied to the members of the Native American subclass - were unconstitutional, and enjoined the defendants from enforcing the hair length regulations against the Native American subclass.
On August 21, 1975, the District Court issued an order approving the Living Guide and Regulations of the South Dakota State Penitentiary. Modifications to the Living Guide were approved in orders dated September 2, 1986 and February 24, 1993.
On February 17, 1976, a partial consent decree was filed addressing inmate's cosmetic dental treatment.
On May 4, 1977, the parties signed a settlement agreement which, among other things, provided for better medical treatment, religious accommodations for Native American inmates, and access to a law library.
This case involves the same plaintiff class and defendants as Native American Council of Tribes v. Solem, 691 F.2d 382 (8th Cir. 1982). PC-SD-003.Chris Sullivan - 07/27/2005