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Case Name Americans United for Separation of Church and State et al v. Prison Fellowship Ministries et al PC-IA-0025
Docket / Court 4:03-cv-90074-RP-TJS ( S.D. Iowa )
State/Territory Iowa
Case Type(s) Prison Conditions
Case Summary
A separation of church and state advocacy group, and affected state prison inmates, on February 12, 2003, sued the State of Iowa, its Department of Corrections (DOC) officials and certain vendors ("InnerChange" and "Prison Fellowship"), claiming violations of the First Amendment's Establishment ... read more >
A separation of church and state advocacy group, and affected state prison inmates, on February 12, 2003, sued the State of Iowa, its Department of Corrections (DOC) officials and certain vendors ("InnerChange" and "Prison Fellowship"), claiming violations of the First Amendment's Establishment Clause and the equivalent provision of the Iowa state constitution.. They challenged a contract that provided for payments to the vendor organizations for their providing pre-release rehabilitation services to prisoners at the DOC's Newton facility through the organizations' "values-based" program, which was based on Evangelical Christianity. The claimants, citing 42 U.S.C. § 1983, sought declarative and injunctive relief, as well as nominal damages. The plaintiffs' lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Iowa by retained and in-house counsel for the advocacy group, Americans United for Separation of Church and State.



An amended complaint making the same basic allegations was filed on August 8, 2003, with a second amended complaint being filed on August 21, 2003, after two similar pending cases (Ashburn v. Mapes, Case No. 4:02-cv-90447, and Shukr v. Kautzky, , Case No. 4:03-cv-90101) in the same federal district court were consolidated with this one. The amendments added, as plaintiffs, relatives of the prisoners and stated that money deposits these relatives would otherwise make to the prisoners' telephone accounts had been used and would, without the requested relief, be used by the state to help fund the conduct violating the Establishment Clause. Additionally, these plaintiffs (including past tobacco users) objected to the state's using funds it received from a tobacco litigation settlement to fund the objectionable conduct. The amended complaints set out numerous specific practices in which Christian teachings and beliefs were explicitly a part of the rehabilitative services, asserted that participation in the program was pre-conditioned upon acceptance of Christian teachings, and noted that parole recommendations were made with input from the operators of the overtly Christian rehabilitative program. The plaintiffs sought a complete prohibition on state funding of this religious-based program or, alternatively, establishment of equivalently-funded rehabilitation programs available to prisoners not participating in the InnerChange program. The plaintiffs also sought repayment to the state of taxpayer funds already provided to the vendors, as well as monies taken from inmate telephone accounts to help fund the program. Return of some plaintiffs to prior housing assignments in the DOC system was sought for some prisoners who had been transferred in order to make space for the program.



Discovery and depositions ensued. On April 29, 2005, District Judge Robert W. Pratt's unpublished order denied three pending cross-motions for summary judgment. The judge found that disputed factual issues existed, including what process the state used to select values-based pre-release rehabilitation programs, the voluntary nature (or not) of this particular program, and whether the program was pervasively sectarian. Numerous individual defendants were dismissed from the case by stipulation between the parties on July 27, 2005, in light of the plaintiffs' dismissing their claims for nominal damages. The case proceeded to a bench trial, but not without the court first denying pretrial motions the parties had filed seeking to limit introduction of certain evidence or to require certain statements made in prior pleadings to be viewed as admissions. Americans United for Separation of Church and State v. Prison Fellowship Ministries, 395 F.Supp.2d 805 (S.D. Iowa 2005) (District Judge Robert W. Pratt).



After the trial, the District Court's June 2, 2006, order, by Judge Pratt, held that: (1) the service providers were operating under color of state law, for purposes of amenability to suit under § 1983; (2) the program was pervasively sectarian; (3) the program did not involve payments made at direction of inmates, which would not violate Establishment Clause; (4) the program fostered excessive entanglement of government with religion; (5) the contract violated the federal and state constitutions' Establishment Clauses; and (6) the service providers (InnerChange and Prison Fellowship) were enjoined from further contract performance, would not be paid amounts due under contract for services already rendered, and would be forced to return to the state all payments received since the inception of the contract in 1999. They were not required to pay the expenses incurred by the state for its provision of in-kind support. The DOC was required by Judge Pratt's order to make pro rata refunds to individual telephone accounts from which funds were taken, with the remainder of the recouped money to be returned to the tobacco settlement trust. Americans United for Separation of Church and State v. Prison Fellowship Ministries, 432 F.Supp.2d 862 (S.D. Iowa 2006). The court declined to require the state to establish alternative secular programs, as doing so would encourage the court to micro-manage a state correctional agency. Likewise, the court declined to order the state to return certain inmates to their prior housing assignments, since they had no rights based on an expectation of certain living quarters. The court's formal judgment based upon its order was issued on June 5, 2006.



The defendants appealed to the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit. That court's three-judge panel (including retired Supreme Court Associate Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, sitting by designation) issued their opinion on December 3, 2007. Written by Circuit Judge William Duane Benton, the opinion affirmed the district court's ruling in all but two respects: (1) the non-inmate contributors to the prisoners' telephone fund lacked standing to sue, and (2) it had been an abuse of discretion for the lower court to grant recoupment for services rendered prior to its' June 2, 2006, order. Other aspects of Judge Benton's opinion rejected the claim that completed performance of the contract rendered the plaintiffs' claims moot. It also rejected the vendors' objections to having been found to be state actors for § 1983 purposes. Similarly unpersuasive to the Court of Appeals was the state's claim that changes it had made in funding the multi-year program, resulting in a shift from cost-reimbursement to per diem payments (as an effort to make InnerChange an indirect aid program), limited the period during which state funding violated the Establishment Clause. Americans United for Separation of Church and State v. Prison Fellowship Ministries, Inc., 509 F.3d 406 (8th Cir. 2007). Requests for rehearing by the panel and rehearing en banc were denied by the Eighth Circuit on January 9, 2008, and the case was remanded to the district court.

On August 5, 2008, the parties filed a joint motion for a settlement conference, which the court granted on August 22, 2008. This case appears to be ongoing.

Kristen Sagar - 10/03/2008


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Affected Gender
Male
General
Funding
Religious programs / policies
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Type of Facility
Government-run
Causes of Action State law
42 U.S.C. § 1983
Defendant(s) InnerChange Freedom Initiative
Iowa Department of Corrections
Prison Fellowship Ministries
Plaintiff Description Prisoners who because of their beliefs were not given the benefits that come with the InnerChange Program
Indexed Lawyer Organizations None on record
Class action status sought No
Class action status granted No
Prevailing Party None Yet / None
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief None yet
Source of Relief None yet
Form of Settlement None on record
Order Duration not on record
Case Closing Year n/a
Case Ongoing Yes
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)
4:02-cv-90447-RP-TJS (S.D. Iowa) 06/04/2003
PC-IA-0025-9001.pdf | Detail
PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
4:03-cv-90101-RP-TJS (S.D. Iowa) 10/23/2004
PC-IA-0025-9002.pdf | Detail
PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
06-2741 (U.S. Court of Appeals) 07/18/2007
PC-IA-0025-9003.pdf | Detail
PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
4:03-cv-90074-RP-TJS (S.D. Iowa) 03/10/2010
PC-IA-0025-9000.pdf | Detail
PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
[Complaint of Plaintiff Jerry D. Ashburn (Pro Se) From Consolidated Case 02-90447] 09/04/2002
PC-IA-0025-0012.pdf | Detail
Complaint 02/12/2003
PC-IA-0025-0001.pdf | Detail
Complaint [of Plaintiff Bobby Shelton (Pro Se) From Consolidated Case 03-90101 (Originally 03-40101)] 02/24/2003
PC-IA-0025-0013.pdf | Detail
First Amended Complaint 08/08/2003
PC-IA-0025-0002.pdf | Detail
Second Amended Complaint [Effects Consolidated Parties From 02-90447 & 03-90101] 08/21/2003
PC-IA-0025-0003.pdf | Detail
Order [Regarding Plaintiffs' Motion to Compel Additional Depositions] 04/23/2004 (S.D. Iowa)
PC-IA-0025-0004.pdf | Detail
Memorandum Opinion and Order [Regarding Plaintiffs' Motion to Bifurcate Nominal Damages/Qualified Immunity Issue, and to Hold State Defendant's Summary Judgment Motion on this Issue in Abeyance] 10/19/2004 (S.D. Iowa)
PC-IA-0025-0005.pdf | Detail
Memorandum and Order on Cross Motions for Summary Judgment 04/29/2005 (S.D. Iowa)
PC-IA-0025-0006.pdf | Detail
[Order on Joint Motion/Stipulation by All Parties Dismissing Certain Defendants] 07/28/2005 (S.D. Iowa)
PC-IA-0025-0007.pdf | Detail
Joint Motion/Stipulation By All Parties Dismissing Certain Defendants and Proposed Order 07/28/2005
PC-IA-0025-0016.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order Nunc Pro Tunc [Regarding April 29, 2005 Order] 08/30/2005 (2005 WL 6772868) (S.D. Iowa)
PC-IA-0025-0008.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Order [Regarding Plaintiffs' Expedited Motion for Leave to Take Two Additional Depositions and Compel Production of Related Documents] 09/02/2005 (S.D. Iowa)
PC-IA-0025-0009.pdf | Detail
Order on Motions in Limine 10/13/2005 (395 F.Supp.2d 805) (S.D. Iowa)
PC-IA-0025-0017.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: Google Scholar
Order [Regarding Plaintiffs' Motion for Order Requiring Production of Documents Concerning Defendants' Inmate and Ex-Inmate Witnesses] 11/16/2005 (S.D. Iowa)
PC-IA-0025-0010.pdf | Detail
Memorandum Opinion and Order Following Trial 06/02/2006 (432 F.Supp.2d 862) (S.D. Iowa)
PC-IA-0025-0018.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: Google Scholar
Judgment in a Civil Case 06/05/2006 (S.D. Iowa)
PC-IA-0025-0011.pdf | Detail
Opinion 12/03/2007 (500 F.3d 406)
PC-IA-0025-0014.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Joint Motion/Stipulation by All Parties re: Settlement of Attorney's Fees, Costs, and Expenses; And (Proposed) Order 08/05/2008
PC-IA-0025-0015.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Judges Benton, William Duane (Eighth Circuit)
PC-IA-0025-0014
Bremer, Celeste F. (S.D. Iowa) [Magistrate]
PC-IA-0025-9001 | PC-IA-0025-9002
Gritzner, James E. (S.D. Iowa)
PC-IA-0025-9002
O'Connor, Sandra Day (SCOTUS)
PC-IA-0025-0014
Pratt, Robert W. (S.D. Iowa)
PC-IA-0025-0002 | PC-IA-0025-0003 | PC-IA-0025-0005 | PC-IA-0025-0006 | PC-IA-0025-0007 | PC-IA-0025-0008 | PC-IA-0025-0010 | PC-IA-0025-0016 | PC-IA-0025-0017 | PC-IA-0025-0018 | PC-IA-0025-9000 | PC-IA-0025-9001 | PC-IA-0025-9002
Shields, Thomas J. (S.D. Iowa) [Magistrate]
PC-IA-0025-0004 | PC-IA-0025-0009 | PC-IA-0025-9000 | PC-IA-0025-9001 | PC-IA-0025-9002
Wollman, Roger Leland (Eighth Circuit)
PC-IA-0025-0014
Monitors/Masters None on record
Plaintiff's Lawyers Katskee, Richard B. (District of Columbia)
PC-IA-0025-0007 | PC-IA-0025-0016 | PC-IA-0025-0017 | PC-IA-0025-0018 | PC-IA-0025-9000 | PC-IA-0025-9002 | PC-IA-0025-9003
Khan, Ayesha N. (District of Columbia)
PC-IA-0025-0001 | PC-IA-0025-0002 | PC-IA-0025-0003 | PC-IA-0025-0007 | PC-IA-0025-0015 | PC-IA-0025-0017 | PC-IA-0025-0018 | PC-IA-0025-9000 | PC-IA-0025-9001 | PC-IA-0025-9002 | PC-IA-0025-9003
Luchenitser, Alex J. (District of Columbia)
PC-IA-0025-0001 | PC-IA-0025-0002 | PC-IA-0025-0003 | PC-IA-0025-0007 | PC-IA-0025-0015 | PC-IA-0025-0016 | PC-IA-0025-0017 | PC-IA-0025-0018 | PC-IA-0025-9000 | PC-IA-0025-9001 | PC-IA-0025-9002 | PC-IA-0025-9003
Rose, Sarah Jeannette (District of Columbia)
PC-IA-0025-0017 | PC-IA-0025-0018 | PC-IA-0025-9000 | PC-IA-0025-9002
Stowers, Dean A (Iowa)
PC-IA-0025-0001 | PC-IA-0025-0002 | PC-IA-0025-0003 | PC-IA-0025-0007 | PC-IA-0025-0015 | PC-IA-0025-0016 | PC-IA-0025-0017 | PC-IA-0025-0018 | PC-IA-0025-9000 | PC-IA-0025-9001 | PC-IA-0025-9002 | PC-IA-0025-9003
Weaver, Heather Lynn (District of Columbia)
PC-IA-0025-0017 | PC-IA-0025-0018 | PC-IA-0025-9000 | PC-IA-0025-9002 | PC-IA-0025-9003
Defendant's Lawyers Allen, Gordon E. (Iowa)
PC-IA-0025-0007 | PC-IA-0025-0015 | PC-IA-0025-0016 | PC-IA-0025-0017 | PC-IA-0025-0018 | PC-IA-0025-9000 | PC-IA-0025-9003
Angle, Robert Armistead (Virginia)
PC-IA-0025-0007 | PC-IA-0025-0016 | PC-IA-0025-0017 | PC-IA-0025-0018 | PC-IA-0025-9000 | PC-IA-0025-9003
Appel, Brent R (Iowa)
PC-IA-0025-0007 | PC-IA-0025-0016 | PC-IA-0025-0017 | PC-IA-0025-0018 | PC-IA-0025-9000 | PC-IA-0025-9001 | PC-IA-0025-9003
Gaubatz, Derek L. (District of Columbia)
PC-IA-0025-9003
Gilbert, Peter A (Virginia)
PC-IA-0025-0007 | PC-IA-0025-0016 | PC-IA-0025-0017 | PC-IA-0025-9000 | PC-IA-0025-9003
Lacy, Michael Edward (Virginia)
PC-IA-0025-0015 | PC-IA-0025-0017 | PC-IA-0025-0018 | PC-IA-0025-9000 | PC-IA-0025-9001 | PC-IA-0025-9003
Leland, Jared N (District of Columbia)
PC-IA-0025-9003
Newsom, Kevin C (Alabama)
PC-IA-0025-0017 | PC-IA-0025-9000 | PC-IA-0025-9003
Picarello, Anthony R Jr (District of Columbia)
PC-IA-0025-9003
Rahman, Megan Conway (Virginia)
PC-IA-0025-0007 | PC-IA-0025-0015 | PC-IA-0025-0016 | PC-IA-0025-0017 | PC-IA-0025-0018 | PC-IA-0025-9000 | PC-IA-0025-9001 | PC-IA-0025-9003
Rassbach, Eric C (District of Columbia)
PC-IA-0025-9003
Somerville, George A (Virginia)
PC-IA-0025-0017 | PC-IA-0025-9000 | PC-IA-0025-9001 | PC-IA-0025-9003
Taylor, Ashley L Jr (Virginia)
PC-IA-0025-0015 | PC-IA-0025-0017 | PC-IA-0025-0018 | PC-IA-0025-9000 | PC-IA-0025-9001 | PC-IA-0025-9003
Troy, Anthony F (Virginia)
PC-IA-0025-0007 | PC-IA-0025-0015 | PC-IA-0025-0016 | PC-IA-0025-0017 | PC-IA-0025-0018 | PC-IA-0025-9000 | PC-IA-0025-9001 | PC-IA-0025-9003
Wallace, H. Loraine (Iowa)
PC-IA-0025-0007 | PC-IA-0025-0015 | PC-IA-0025-0016 | PC-IA-0025-0017 | PC-IA-0025-0018 | PC-IA-0025-9000 | PC-IA-0025-9001 | PC-IA-0025-9003
Other Lawyers Bucci, Mark (Michigan)
PC-IA-0025-9003
Bull, Benjamin W. (Arizona)
PC-IA-0025-9003
Collette, Matthew M. (District of Columbia)
PC-IA-0025-9003
DuPre, Benjamin (Alabama)
PC-IA-0025-9003
Fitshen, Steven W. (Virginia)
PC-IA-0025-9003
Green, Steven Keith (District of Columbia)
PC-IA-0025-9003
Greene, Robert L. (District of Columbia)
PC-IA-0025-9003
Hollman, K Hollyn (District of Columbia)
PC-IA-0025-9003
Hurley, Chuck (Iowa)
PC-IA-0025-9003
Jones, Gregory M. (Alabama)
PC-IA-0025-9003
LaPlante, David C (Kansas)
PC-IA-0025-9003
Lindsay, Ronald Alan (District of Columbia)
PC-IA-0025-9003
Mach, Daniel (District of Columbia)
PC-IA-0025-9003
Moore, Roy S (Alabama)
PC-IA-0025-9003
Oster, Joel L. (Kansas)
PC-IA-0025-9003
Passman, Hart P (Illinois)
PC-IA-0025-9003
Sekulow, Jay Alan (District of Columbia)
PC-IA-0025-9003 | PC-IA-0025-9003
Sinensky, Jeffrey P (New York)
PC-IA-0025-9003
Storzer, Roman P (District of Columbia)
PC-IA-0025-9003
Theriot, Kevin H. (Kansas)
PC-IA-0025-9003
Thro, William Eugene (Virginia)
PC-IA-0025-9003
Tucker, Nathan Wesley (Nebraska)
PC-IA-0025-9003
Weber, Walter M (District of Columbia)
PC-IA-0025-9003
Weinberg, Joshua (District of Columbia)
PC-IA-0025-9003

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