On September 26, 1990, prisoners in the Stanislaus County jail system filed a class action lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California against the county and the county sheriff, challenging their conditions of confinement. The prisoners, represented by the Prisoner ...
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On September 26, 1990, prisoners in the Stanislaus County jail system filed a class action lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California against the county and the county sheriff, challenging their conditions of confinement. The prisoners, represented by the Prisoner Rights Union and private counsel, brought suit under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleging a violation of their rights under the Eight Amendment. Specifically, they claimed that the county jails were overcrowded and, among other things, provided inadequate access to law libraries and to medical, dental and mental health care. Plaintiffs sought declaratory and injunctive relief.
On October 12, 1990, the plaintiffs moved the District Court for a preliminary injunction, and on February 27, 1991, following discovery, the Court (Chief Judge Robert E. Coyle) adopted the recommendations of Magistrate Judge John F. Moulds and granted a limited injunction, prohibiting prisoners from being bedded on the floor, prohibiting the addition of more beds to the prison during the case, and authorizing the Sheriff to release prisoners when the jail was 90% full. The Court also certified the case as a class action.
The parties began negotiations to settle the case in 1991, and in March 1992 they came to an agreement. Like the preliminary injunction, the settlement enjoined the County from bedding prisoners on the floor and allowed the Sheriff to deny new prisoners and release current prisoners when the jail came within ten percent of its maximum capacity; in addition, it settlement also addressed issued with law library access and medical, dental and mental health care. It applied to the Men's Jail, the Public Safety Center, the Men's Honor Farm, and the Female Facility (closed in 1993).
The Court (Judge Oliver W. Wanger) approved the settlement and terminated the case on May 4, 1992. Three days later, the Court (Magistrate Judge Moulds) ordered defendants to pay plaintiffs' attorney fees.
In 2008, a class member filed a motion seeking enforcement of the settlement, but the Court referred the movant to class counsel. The settlement was still in effect in 2012, and played a part in the County's application for state funds to finance an expansion of its jail facilities. Christopher Schad - 07/20/2012