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Case Name Trigg v. Blanton PC-TN-0001
Docket / Court A-6067 ( State Court )
State/Territory Tennessee
Case Type(s) Prison Conditions
Case Summary
Sometime on or about 1978, inmates at a Tennessee state prison filed a civil rights lawsuit against the Department of Corrections in the Chancery Court of Davidson County, Tennessee. The National Prison Project and Legal Services of Nashville, Tennessee represented the plaintiffs. On August 23, 19 ... read more >
Sometime on or about 1978, inmates at a Tennessee state prison filed a civil rights lawsuit against the Department of Corrections in the Chancery Court of Davidson County, Tennessee. The National Prison Project and Legal Services of Nashville, Tennessee represented the plaintiffs. On August 23, 1978 the court (Chancellor Ben H. Cantrell) issued an order finding the entire Tennessee prison system unconstitutional.

Specifically, the court found that inmates' vocational, educational, social, mental, medical, recreational and physical needs were not met. Further, the court found that defendants' classification system was inadequate and that inmates lived with constant fear of assault in an excessively violent environment. The facilities were found to be inadequate, unsanitary, and not suitable for rehabilitation purposes. Overcrowding augmented this problem. The court also found that some prisoners were kept in county jails in excess of ten days in violation of these individuals' constitutional rights. According to Prison Law Monitor, Vol. 1, No. 4, Sept. 1978, this was the first case in which a state court, rather than a federal court, declared an entire state prison system unconstitutional.

The court ordered that at minimum, overcrowding must be eliminated and that the classification system must be improved to decrease the level of violence at the facility and to better identify medical, educational, and treatment needs of inmates. The court ordered that the medical delivery system must be improved and unsanitary and unhealthy physical conditions in living and food service areas must be corrected. The court also ordered that a monitor oversee compliance with this order. We have no PACER docket and no further information on this case.

Emilee Baker - 05/24/2006


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Crowding
Crowding / caseload
General
Assault/abuse by residents/inmates/students
Classification / placement
Disciplinary procedures
Education
Food service / nutrition / hydration
Recreation / Exercise
Rehabilitation
Sanitation / living conditions
Totality of conditions
Medical/Mental Health
Medical care, general
Mental health care, general
Untreated pain
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Type of Facility
Government-run
Causes of Action State law
Defendant(s) Tennessee Department of Corrections
Tennessee Prison System
Plaintiff Description Prison inmates
Indexed Lawyer Organizations None on record
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 Litigation
Form of Settlement None on record
Order Duration 1978 - 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
Order 09/01/1978
PC-TN-0001-0001.pdf | Detail
Judges Cantrell, Ben H. (State Appellate Court)
PC-TN-0001-0001
Monitors/Masters None on record
Plaintiff's Lawyers None on record
Defendant's Lawyers None on record
Other Lawyers None on record

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