On May 21, 1979, Native American inmates confined in the Adjustment Center at the South Dakota Penitentiary filed a class action lawsuit under 42 USC 1983 in the U.S. District Court for the District of South Dakota against the warden of the Penitentiary. Plaintiffs alleged that conditions of confinement violated their Eighth and Fourteenth Amendment rights. The complaint also alleged that confinement and transfer procedures violated their Fifth Amendment rights as well as the Fourteenth Amendment's due process and equal protection provisions.
On June 2, 1980, the plaintiff class was expanded to included all inmates subjected to disciplinary confinement, and a subclass was formed consisting of all Native American inmates. On June 3, 1980, the case went to trial.
On April 13, 1982, the court filed an unpublished memorandum decision and order finding no constitutional violations, but ordering that the defendant provide such things as lighting, bedding, daily trash collection, periodic pest control, better access to the law library, and limits on the duration of confinements in dark cells. The court also recommended such things as a reevaluation of the shower policy, increased recreational opportunities, and psychiatric care when needed.
A final judgment was entered on February 18, 1983 reflecting post-trial changes that were made in response to the memorandum decision and order.
Plaintiffs filed for attorney fees under 42 U.S.C. 1988. On February 7, 1984, the District Court (Judge Fred J. Nichol) awarded the plaintiffs $15,227.78 for attorney fees and costs. Wabasha v. Solem, 580 F.Supp. 448 (D.S.D. 1984). According to the docket, the plaintiffs moved to reconsider the amount of attorney fees, but the motion was dismissed on May 4, 1984.
On August 1, 1989, the plaintiffs filed a motion for an order to show cause why the defendant should not be held in civil contempt. The motion was denied on August 14, 1991 and the proceedings were dismissed as abandoned. The docket ends with the entry of the order denying the plaintiffs' motion to hold defendants in contempt on August 15, 1991. Rebekah Henn Sullivan - 07/26/2005