On January 19, 1989, Aranda and nearly one hundred fellow prisoners in the Texas prison system filed suit in U. S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas under 42 U.S.C. §1983 against the director of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ), alleging civil rights violations. ...
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On January 19, 1989, Aranda and nearly one hundred fellow prisoners in the Texas prison system filed suit in U. S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas under 42 U.S.C. §1983 against the director of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ), alleging civil rights violations. The plaintiffs, all of whom were male, contented that strip searches performed by female prison officials violated both their constitutional right to privacy and an existing consent decree (K.K. Coble and Donna S. Beneze Riggs v. Texas Department of Corrections, et al. PC-TX-0009). Similar lawsuits were subsequently filed, in 1991 the cases were consolidated, and the court appointed counsel, Harry Walsh III, for the inmates. In 1992, the court (Chief Judge Norman W. Black) certified a class of "all present and future male inmates of the TDCJ" in male housing units. The court specified that the class was only eligible for prospective, injunctive relief. In 1993, the Court granted partial summary judgment to the defendants, dismissing the prisoners privacy rights claim, and the case proceeded on the consent decree violation issue.
The earlier consent decree in Coble required the TDCJ (then called the Texas Department of Corrections) to end their practice of not hiring female officers for all-male facilities. The decree was filed in 1987, and almost immediately there was resistance to the female officers, both from inmates and male guards. However, the court noted a number of positives that came out of the hiring of female officers, including an increased applicant pool, the calming effect of the female guards on some of the inmates, and the strong performance of the female guards.
On July 23, 1993, the court (Judge Black) entered its final judgment. Aranda v. Lynaugh, 1993 U.S. Dist. Lexis 21424 (S.D. Tex. July 27, 1993). Recognizing that Texas is constitutionally required to continue hiring female officers for jobs that they are qualified for and capable of performing, the court ordered the TDCJ to revise and improve its training program and to better emphasize the policy concerning strip searches of male inmates by female officers. The court ordered that the TDCJ submit annual copies of the training program, the time spent teaching it, and an annual report showing the frequency of training, changes to the training, and number of officers trained. The court further ordered the dissemination of the policy to the inmates. The court then ordered the TDCJ pay $5,000 of the inmates' legal fees.
In April of 1998, the case was assigned to Judge Lee H. Rosenthal. The docket shows that TDCJ filed reports annually until 1999. The docket ends in November of 2002, after which we have no further information about the case.Ben Kelly - 01/30/2006