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Case Name Shrader v. White PC-VA-0005
Docket / Court 82-0247 ( E.D. Va. )
State/Territory Virginia
Case Type(s) Prison Conditions
Case Summary
A class of inmates, represented by the ACLU National Prison Project, filed a lawsuit under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 in the United States District for the Eastern District of Virginia on behalf of all present and future inmates of the Virginia State Penitentiary in Richmond, Virginia ("Penitentiary") ... read more >
A class of inmates, represented by the ACLU National Prison Project, filed a lawsuit under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 in the United States District for the Eastern District of Virginia on behalf of all present and future inmates of the Virginia State Penitentiary in Richmond, Virginia ("Penitentiary") against the Virginia Department of Corrections, alleging cruel and unusual punishment, violations of First and Fourteenth Amendment rights of freedom of speech and association, deprivation of life and liberty without due process of law, and unconstitutional conditions of confinement. Plaintiffs were seeking injunctive relief.

The compliant details the injuries suffered by each of the named plaintiffs while incarcerated at the State Penitentiary: one plaintiff was robbed at knifepoint in his cell by two other inmates; another plaintiff was severely burned when another inmate set him and his cell on fire; another plaintiff complained that the cell block set aside for punitive or administrative segregation and protective custody was "filthy, roach infested, badly lit, badly ventilated, and structurally deteriorated;" another cellhouse allegedly lacked hot water, adequate lighting, and proper plumbing; still another cellhouse was so structurally unsound that water entered during rainstorms, and the cellhouse was infested by roaches, insects, and pigeons; the final named plaintiff claims he was required to receive official approval in order to receive delivery of a general circulation newspaper.

Further, the complaint details those conditions of confinement which affected the class as a whole. In particular, it alleged that the Penitentiary lacked a proper classification system to keep weaker or younger inmates separate from more predatory inmates, or those suffering mental problems separate from the general population; that staffing was far below adequate levels to maintain safety and order; that the idleness of the inmates increased the risk of violence; that meals did not meet minimum nutritional or sanitary standards; that the visiting room was operated in an arbitrary manner; that the guidelines for allowance of publications were applied arbitrarily (allowing Ku Klux Klan magazines, but not The Best of Norman Rockwell, or allowing Playboy, but not Hustler); and that inmates housed in segregation were not allowed adequate recreation and showers.

On June 29, 1983, the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia (Magistrate Judge David G. Lowe), dismissed the case, finding for the State on all counts. While the Court recognized that conditions at the Penitentiary were indeed unpleasant, they did not rise to the level of constitutional violations; on each issue which involved conflicting evidence, the Court found that the plaintiffs had failed to meet their burden and found for the defendants. While not finding a constitutional violation, the Court did note that the substance abuse and trafficking problems at the Penitentiary were particularly troublesome.

On June 22, 1987, a Settlement Agreement was entered by the Court (Mag. Judge Lowe). It appears that one issue in the case remained, and was at one point appealed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, and then remanded to the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia. The settlement agreement sets forth procedures to be followed for the securing of all tools and scarp metals, apparently due to safety concerns.

Megan Raynor - 03/25/2006


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Crowding
Crowding / caseload
General
Administrative segregation
Assault/abuse by residents/inmates/students
Classification / placement
Food service / nutrition / hydration
Mail
Recreation / Exercise
Sanitation / living conditions
Staff (number, training, qualifications, wages)
Visiting
Type of Facility
Government-run
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. § 1983
Defendant(s) Virginia Department of Corrections
Plaintiff Description all present and future inmates of the Virginia State Penitentiary in Richmond, Virginia
Indexed Lawyer Organizations None on record
Class action status sought Yes
Class action status granted Yes
Prevailing Party Mixed
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement
Source of Relief Settlement
Form of Settlement Court Approved Settlement or Consent Decree
Order Duration 1987 - 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
Complaint 01/01/1982
PC-VA-0005-0001.pdf | Detail
Order 06/29/1983 (E.D. Va.)
PC-VA-0005-0002.pdf | Detail
Notice to class of Settlement Agreement 06/22/1987
PC-VA-0005-0003.pdf | Detail
Judges Lowe, David G. (E.D. Va.) [Magistrate]
PC-VA-0005-0002 | PC-VA-0005-0003
Monitors/Masters None on record
Plaintiff's Lawyers Aiyetoro, Adjoa A. (District of Columbia)
PC-VA-0005-0003
Miller, Marvin D. (Virginia)
PC-VA-0005-0003
Rosenthal, Edward S. (Virginia)
PC-VA-0005-0003
Defendant's Lawyers None on record
Other Lawyers None on record

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