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Case Name U.S. v. Alabama PC-AL-0034
Docket / Court 2:15-cv-00368-MHT-TFM ( M.D. Ala. )
State/Territory Alabama
Case Type(s) Prison Conditions
Special Collection Civil Rights Division Archival Collection
Post-PLRA enforceable consent decrees
Attorney Organization U.S. Dept. of Justice Civil Rights Division
Case Summary
On February 26, 2013, the Department of Justice Civil Rights Division sent notice to the Alabama Department of Corrections that it would be conducting an investigation of the Julia Tutwiler Prison. The investigation sought to address allegations that prisoners were subjected to sexual abuse by ... read more >
On February 26, 2013, the Department of Justice Civil Rights Division sent notice to the Alabama Department of Corrections that it would be conducting an investigation of the Julia Tutwiler Prison. The investigation sought to address allegations that prisoners were subjected to sexual abuse by prison staff in violation of their constitutional rights; allegations that the prison failed to report and prevent sexual abuse; and allegations that the prison failed to provide adequate mental health and medical care to victims of sexual abuse. On January 17, 2014, the DOJ issued a findings letter. The department's findings detailed unconstitutional conditions that subjected women prisoners to a substantial risk of harm. These conditions included staff sexual abuse and sexual harassment of prisoners, prison officials' failure to adequately respond to and investigate allegations of sexual abuse and harassment, and systemic deficiencies that directly contributed to staff and prisoner sexual abuse and staff sexual harassment.

On May 28, 2015, the DOJ Civil Rights Division filed this lawsuit against the state of Alabama and its Department of Corrections (ADOC) under CRIPA for the heinous sexual abuse committed by the ADOC's male officers at Tutwiler. And the parties had reached a settlement agreement and subsequently submitted a motion for its approval, which Judge Myron Thompson accepted on June 18, 2015. The court issued a consent decree and designated an independent monitor.

The settlement required the ADOC and Tutwiler to make recommended changes and file compliance reports every six months. The substantive part of the settlement agreement contained sections on General Policies and Procedures, staffing and training, risk assessment and education, rights to privacy and reporting, and response and investigation procedures to reports of sexual assault.

The policy section of the agreement required ADOC and Tutwiler to:
  • Develop, submit to the Monitor and DOJ for review, and implement policies and procedures regarding the management of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex, and gender nonconforming prisoners;
  • Comply with its policy ensuring women receive essential supplies;
  • Develop and implement policies and procedures that incorporate gender-responsive strategies, including policies and procedures governing the use of force against women prisoners and other disciplinary actions;
  • Develop, submit to the Monitor and DOJ for review and implement facility-specific policies and operational practices specific to Tutwiler' s population regarding the supervision and monitoring necessary to prevent inmates from being exposed to an unreasonable risk of harm from sexual abuse and harassment; and
  • Revise and/or develop and implemen any other policies, practices, procedures, protocols, training curricula, and other written documents as necessary, including but not limited to, screening tools, logs, handbooks, manuals, and forms.

The consent decree was set to be in effect until ADOC was found in substantial compliance in three consecutive compliance reports.

The monitor filed the first report on February 26, 2016 on the assessment period for May–Dec. 2015. The monitor noted positive progress and granted a 3-month extension for compliance on the general policies and procedures and training. From February 2016 through August 2019, the monitor filed a total of eight reports indicating steady progress. In the eighth and most recent report, the monitor noted that Tutwiler and the ADOC achieved "substantial compliance" with 41 sections of the settlement agreement and "partial compliance" with two sections of the agreement.

As of August 2019, Tutwiler's and the ADOC's general policies continued to work toward preventing sexual abuse and harassment. The monitor noted that staff exhibited knowledge of procedures related to reporting sexual harassment, safety for inmates, and investigative processes. In addition, the monitor found that Tutwiler and the ADOC fully implemented the required Behavior Intervention & Discipline Policy and Disciplinary Segregation policies. Tutwiler's and the ADOC's use of camera recording also satisfied the monitor, although the monitor found that audio capabilities would further surveillance efforts. Further, the ADOC's and Tutwiler's inmate education program communicating the right to be free from sexual abuse and harassment and right to privacy satisfied their duties as outlined in the agreement.

The monitor found some challenges still exist at the Tutwiler facility. Specifically, staffing vacancies could impact safety and security at the facility. Additionally, recruitment and retention problems with women candidates do not allow for a finding of substantial compliance with terms in the agreement.

As of November 2019, the monitor will conduct further research on compliance and submit a ninth report to the court in December. The case is ongoing.

(There were also two earlier CRIPA matters involving Tutwiler. The first was in the mid 1980s. For information, see PC-AL-0023. The second was in the mid 1990s. See PC-AL-0006.)

Soojin Cha - 05/20/2016
Angela Heverling - 05/09/2006
Kaley Hanenkrat - 02/02/2018
Richa Bijlani - 12/01/2019


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Affected Gender
Female
Content of Injunction
Auditing
Implement complaint/dispute resolution process
Monitor/Master
Other requirements regarding hiring, promotion, retention
Reporting
Training
Crowding
Crowding / caseload
Defendant-type
Corrections
Discrimination-basis
Sex discrimination
General
Assault/abuse by staff
Disciplinary procedures
Failure to train
Food service / nutrition / hydration
Gay/lesbian/transgender
Incident/accident reporting & investigations
Prison Rape Elimination Act
Sanitation / living conditions
Sex w/ staff; sexual harassment by staff
Staff (number, training, qualifications, wages)
Medical/Mental Health
Dental care
Medical care, general
Medication, administration of
Mental health care, general
Plaintiff Type
U.S. Dept of Justice plaintiff
Type of Facility
Government-run
Causes of Action Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act (CRIPA), 42 U.S.C. § 1997 et seq.
Defendant(s) Alabama Department of Corrections
Plaintiff Description Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division
Indexed Lawyer Organizations U.S. Dept. of Justice Civil Rights Division
Class action status sought No
Class action status granted No
Filed Pro Se No
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
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 2015 - n/a
Filing Year 2015
Case Ongoing Yes
Additional Resources
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  See this case at CourtListener.com (May provide additional documents and, for active cases, real-time alerts)
  An Analysis of CRIPA Findings Letters Issued to Jails for Constitutional Violations by the Department of Justice
Date: Apr. 15, 2016
By: Jeff Mellow, Bryce E. Peterson & Mijin Kim (John Jay College of Criminal Justice Faculty)
Citation: Am. J. Crim. Just. (April 2016)
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

  Civil Rights Injunctions Over Time: A Case Study of Jail and Prison Court Orders
N.Y.U. Law Review
Date: May 2006
By: Margo Schlanger (Washington University Faculty)
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
Book
Date: Jan. 1, 1998
By: Malcolm M. Feeley & Edward Rubin (UC Berkeley Boalt Hall School of Law & Vanderbilt School of Law Faculty Faculty)
Citation: (1998)
[ Detail ]

Docket(s)
2:15-cv-00368-MHT-TFM (M.D. Ala.)
PC-AL-0034-9000.pdf | Detail
Date: 08/27/2019
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Investigation of the Julia Tutwiler Prison for Women and Notice of Expanded Investigation
PC-AL-0034-0009.pdf | External Link | Detail
Date: 01/17/2014
Source: U.S. Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division, Special Litigation Section
Complaint [ECF# 1]
PC-AL-0034-0001.pdf | Detail
Date: 05/28/2015
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Joint Motion to Enter Settlement Agreement [ECF# 2]
PC-AL-0034-0002.pdf | Detail
Date: 05/28/2015
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Settlement Agreement [ECF# 2-1]
PC-AL-0034-0003.pdf | Detail
Date: 05/28/2015
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Opinion [ECF# 10] (2015 WL 3796526) (M.D. Ala.)
PC-AL-0034-0004.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Date: 06/18/2015
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Consent Decree [ECF# 11] (M.D. Ala.)
PC-AL-0034-0005.pdf | Detail
Date: 06/18/2015
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Judgment [Regarding Consent Decree] [ECF# 12] (M.D. Ala.)
PC-AL-0034-0008.pdf | External Link | Detail
Date: 06/18/2015
Source: U.S. Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division, Special Litigation Section
Monitor Report [ECF# 16-1]
PC-AL-0034-0006.pdf | Detail
Date: 02/26/2016
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Compliance Tool [ECF# 16-2]
PC-AL-0034-0007.pdf | Detail
Date: 02/26/2016
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Monitor's Third Compliance Report [ECF# 26]
PC-AL-0034-0019.pdf | Detail
Date: 03/28/2017
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Monitor's Fourth Compliance Report [ECF# 27]
PC-AL-0034-0020.pdf | Detail
Date: 08/25/2017
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Monitor’s Fifth Compliance Report [ECF# 28-2]
PC-AL-0034-0021.pdf | Detail
Date: 02/27/2018
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Monitor’s Sixth Compliance Report [ECF# 29-2]
PC-AL-0034-0022.pdf | Detail
Date: 08/23/2018
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Monitor’s Seventh Compliance Report [ECF# 34-1]
PC-AL-0034-0024.pdf | Detail
Date: 02/25/2019
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Monitor’s Eighth Compliance Report [ECF# 37-2]
PC-AL-0034-0023.pdf | Detail
Date: 08/27/2019
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
show all people docs
Judges Moorer, Terry Fitzgerald (M.D. Ala., S.D. Ala.) show/hide docs
PC-AL-0034-9000
Thompson, Myron Herbert (N.D. Ala., M.D. Ala.) show/hide docs
PC-AL-0034-0004 | PC-AL-0034-0005 | PC-AL-0034-0008 | PC-AL-0034-9000
Monitors/Masters Dennehy, Kathleen (Alabama) show/hide docs
PC-AL-0034-0019 | PC-AL-0034-0020
Plaintiff's Lawyers Abbate, Julie K. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
PC-AL-0034-0003 | PC-AL-0034-9000
Adams, Jerusha Tatiana (Alabama) show/hide docs
PC-AL-0034-9000
Anderson, Robert G. (Mississippi) show/hide docs
PC-AL-0034-9000
Bohan, Mary (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
PC-AL-0034-9000
Dubois, James J. (Alabama) show/hide docs
PC-AL-0034-9000
Fleisher, Aaron S (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
PC-AL-0034-0003 | PC-AL-0034-9000
Gupta, Vanita (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
PC-AL-0034-0003 | PC-AL-0034-9000
Kappelhoff, Mark (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
PC-AL-0034-0001 | PC-AL-0034-0002 | PC-AL-0034-0003 | PC-AL-0034-9000
Lopez, Zazy I (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
PC-AL-0034-0003 | PC-AL-0034-9000
Preston, Judith C. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
PC-AL-0034-0003 | PC-AL-0034-9000
Samuels, Jocelyn (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
PC-AL-0034-0009
Defendant's Lawyers Dunn, Jefferson S. (Alabama) show/hide docs
PC-AL-0034-0003 | PC-AL-0034-9000
Harmon, Bart Gregory (Alabama) show/hide docs
PC-AL-0034-9000
Hill, Anne A. (Alabama) show/hide docs
PC-AL-0034-9000
McCollum, Carrie Ellis (Alabama) show/hide docs
PC-AL-0034-9000

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