On December 21, 1981 four inmates filed a 42 U.S.C. § 1983 class action lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Georgia, challenging the conditions of confinement at the Glynn County Detention Center. Plaintiffs complained about the physical condition of the Jail, inadequate health care, lack of training and counseling for inmates, physical abuse, and a deficient disciplinary system.
On June 12, 1982, the case was certified as a class action, with the class defined as: "[a]ll persons who are, have been, and will be confined in the Glynn County Detention Center under conditions which violate their rights under the First, Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution."
The parties ultimately entered into a court-approved settlement agreement and a December 20, 1982 Consent Order was entered by the District Court. Subsequently, in 1985, the plaintiffs filed a contempt petition alleging that Defendants were in violation of the Consent Order and requesting that the court judicially enforce the Order. On December 4, 1985, the parties filed a joint Stipulation which provided for the dismissal of the contempt petition and the creation of an "Inmate Welfare Fund". The Stipulation provided that all Detention Center profits from the sale of merchandise to inmates would be deposited into the Fund, which would then be used to defray the cost of items furnished to indigent inmates. The Stipulation was approved by the District Court on December 9, 1985.
By 1993, the Welfare Fund had amassed a large surplus and the defendants filed a Motion to Donate Inmate Welfare Funds for Charitable Purposes, seeking to make a one time donation to two charities--the United Way and the Boys Club of Glynn County. The District Court granted the motion on October 1, 1993. The inmates later moved for a permanent plan to make annual charitable donations from the Fund. The County opposed the motion, citing rising costs in the operation of the Detention Center. By an order dated August 4, 1994, the District Court (Judge Anthony A. Alaimo) granted the inmates motion and approved the creation of the Glynn County Inmate Welfare Fund Charitable Trust.
On June 26, 1998, the defendants moved to terminate the Consent Order under the Prison Litigation Reform Act (PLRA). The motion was unopposed. On September 22, 1998, the District Court entered a Final Order terminating all previous court orders with the exception of the August 4, 1994 order, which had approved the permanent plan for donations from the Welfare Fund to the Charitable Trust.
In November 2005, the defendants moved to modify the permanent plan for charitable donations. On March 17, 2006, Judge Alaimo denied the motion, finding that the Fund and Trust were created by a "private settlement agreement" and that the court, therefore, had no jurisdiction to modify them under the PLRA. The County appealed.
On April 6, 2007, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit reversed, finding that the orders establishing and continuing the Trust were "consent decrees," rather than "private settlement agreements" under the PLRA. The case was remanded with instructions to terminate the Welfare Fund and Trust. Rowe v. Jones, 483 F.3d 791 (11th Cir. 2007).Kristen Sagar - 01/23/2009