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Case Name United States v. Hinds County JC-MS-0021
Docket / Court 3:16-cv-00489-WHB-JCG ( S.D. Miss. )
State/Territory Mississippi
Case Type(s) Jail Conditions
Special Collection COVID-19 (novel coronavirus)
Post-PLRA enforceable consent decrees
Solitary confinement
Attorney Organization U.S. Dept. of Justice Civil Rights Division
Case Summary
COVID-19 Summary: This case originated as a jail conditions case in Hinds County, Mississippi in 2015. In March of 2020, the monitor’s report noted that the novel coronavirus had the potential to become a serious problem at the facilities. The monitor’s report in August 2020 reported that ... read more >
COVID-19 Summary: This case originated as a jail conditions case in Hinds County, Mississippi in 2015. In March of 2020, the monitor’s report noted that the novel coronavirus had the potential to become a serious problem at the facilities. The monitor’s report in August 2020 reported that several detainees had tested positive, and that Hinds County was inadequately addressing the issue.
On May 21, 2015, the Civil Rights Division of the United State Department of Justice (DOJ) completed an investigation into Hinds County, Mississippi, over conditions at the Hinds County Adult Detention Facility and Work Center in Raymond and the Jackson Detention Center in Jackson. The DOJ found that the facilities were chronically understaffed, that staff were not adequately trained or supervised, and that the facilities were poorly designed and ill-maintained. Those staff in turn failed to supervise detainees with a history of violence, mental illness, or suicide attempts, and routinely subjected detainees to excessive force. They further failed to adequately separate high-risk detainees from young detainees, female detainees, mentally disabled detainees, and other vulnerable detainees.

As a result, detainees faced serious harm or risk of harm from other detainees and staff, including three riots, as well as unjustified use of TASERs, canines, and corporal punishment against detainees by staff. Additionally, Hinds County failed to provide detainees with timely access to exercise, treatment programs, and legal services. The lack of access to legal services, along with Hinds County's failure to keep accurate records for detainees, in turn resulted in many detainees being held without adequate legal justification.

On June 23, 2016, the DOJ filed this lawsuit against Hinds County based on the findings in its report in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Mississippi. The DOJ alleged that Hinds County had violated the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendment rights of the detainees housed in the Hinds County Adult Detention Facility, the Hinds County Work Center, and the Jackson Detention Center. The DOJ asked the court (Judge William Henry Barbour Jr.) for declaratory and injunctive relief under the Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act (42 U.S.C. § 1997). Specifically, the DOJ asked Judge Barbour to declare that Hinds County's practices and policies violated the constitutional rights of detainees at the facilities that the DOJ had investigated, and to issue a permanent injunction ordering Hinds County to amend its practices and policies to avoid violating the constitutional rights of detainees at those facilities in the future.

The parties had already negotiated a settlement during the DOJ investigation; on the same day as the complaint was filed, the DOJ and Hinds County filed a joint settlement motion. In the settlement agreement, Hinds County admitted that its policies and practices had violated the rights of detainees and agreed to change those practices and policies to prevent violations of detainees' rights in the future. To that end, Hinds County agreed to implement a comprehensive list of reforms, including: increased supervision of prison staff and detainees; improved training for prison staff, particularly in regards to appropriate use of force; improved incident reporting and investigation; no longer detaining detainees without adequate legal justification, particularly in regards to detention for failing to pay fines; and notifying mental health professionals of the release of detainees with mental illness to facilitate their transitions back into society.

Hinds County also agreed to create a Criminal Justice Coordinating Committee, which would be charged with exploring ways to keep youth and mentally ill persons in Hinds County out of the Hinds County legal system. The Committee would include representatives from the Hinds County Board of Supervisors and Hinds County Sheriff's office. Hinds County was also to seek additional representation from the Jackson Police Department and other Jackson City officials; the Mississippi Department of Mental Health; the Mississippi Department of Health and Human Services, Division of Youth Services; Hinds County judges; the Hinds County District Attorney's Office; the Hinds County Public Defender's Office; and private advocates or other interested community member.

The settlement agreement required that Hinds County implement all of its provisions within a year of the effective date of the agreement. Compliance with the settlement agreement would be monitored by a third-party monitor agreed upon by the DOJ and Hinds County. The monitor was to have full access to facilities, records, and detainees of the Hinds County Adult Detention Center, Hinds County Work Center, and Jackson Detention Center, along with the full cooperation of Hinds County employees, contractors, and Agents at those facilities. Hinds County was also required to designate a full-time Compliance Coordinator to work with the monitor. In the event of non-compliance with the agreement, the court retained jurisdiction to enforce the agreement at the request of the aggrieved party.

After the parties jointly stipulated that the defendant had substantially complied with the settlement agreement for two years, the court could order termination of the agreement. Alternatively, the defendant could unilaterally move for dismissal, but had the burden of showing substantial implementation of the agreement. The court approved the settlement agreement on July 19, 2016.

On February 17, 2017, the court determined that significant progress had been made toward compliance, but that certain requirements had not been met. On August 1, 2018, the monitor filed their fifth status report. Though the monitor noted meaningful progress, particularly with the medical and mental health evaluation processes, the detention facilities were still non-compliant with the settlement agreement.

The case was reassigned to District Judge Carlton Reeves on December 17, 2018. Status reports and compliance updates continued. On June 24, 2019, a monitoring report was submitted that demonstrated that defendants were still lacking in the area of corrections operations. In all other areas, the court monitor found that there had been improvement, but that defendants still had lots to accomplish before they would be in compliance.

On December 16, 2019, both parties moved for entry of a new settlement; the Court agreed on January 16, 2020, modifying the prior settlement agreement to include additional, more specific, relief in five areas: Safety and security of the physical plant, safety and security of staffing, the development and implementation of policies and procedures, and population management.

Around the same time, COVID-19 began to spread throughout the world. The 10th Status Report dated March 26, 2020, noted that lack of staffing and impractical policies would hinder an effective respond to the virus in Hinds County detention facilities. The Report also noted other deficiencies including physical security (detainees were often able to let themselves out of their cells and housing units), fire code noncompliance, and lack of mental health workers. So, it concluded, “progress toward substantial compliance in most of the areas of the Agreement is best described as being ‘on hold’.” But the report did point out that more judges were available for first appearances and the bail schedule had been eliminated.

The 11th Status Report, dated August 4, 2020, identified additional problems with the defendants' COVID-19 response. Based on conference and Zoom calls rather than in-person visits, the report cited failures of the jail administration, senior security staff, and the mental and medical health provider to regularly meet together, leading to misinformation. In addition, there was at first a lack of testing. And when testing was finally conducted, it took place on a voluntary basis, leading to only 60% of detainees being tested. Several of these tests were positive, and the monitor expressed concern that there might be additional infected detainees in the non-tested population. These problems were compounded by ineffective quarantine procedures, inadequate staffing, and inadequate testing of staff. On the other hand, the Report also noted that a reduction in the jail population over the last four years had improved conditions.

The case remains ongoing.

Ryan Berry - 07/05/2016
Elizabeth Heise - 10/21/2018
Christiana Johnson - 03/31/2020
Samuel Poortenga - 11/13/2020


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Constitutional Clause
Cruel and Unusual Punishment
Due Process
Content of Injunction
Auditing
Implement complaint/dispute resolution process
Monitor/Master
Monitoring
Other requirements regarding hiring, promotion, retention
Recordkeeping
Training
Crowding
Crowding / caseload
Defendant-type
Corrections
General
Access to lawyers or judicial system
Administrative segregation
Assault/abuse by residents/inmates/students
Assault/abuse by staff
Bathing and hygiene
Classification / placement
Conditions of confinement
Disciplinary procedures
Disciplinary segregation
Excessive force
Failure to discipline
Failure to supervise
Failure to train
Fines/Fees/Bail/Bond
Improper use of canines
Incident/accident reporting & investigations
Law library access
Library (non-law) access
Over/Unlawful Detention
Personal injury
Record-keeping
Recreation / Exercise
Rehabilitation
Religious programs / policies
Sexual abuse by residents/inmates
Staff (number, training, qualifications, wages)
Suicide prevention
Totality of conditions
Youth / Adult separation
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) Hinds County
Plaintiff Description Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice.
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 2016 - n/a
Filed 06/23/2016
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)
  Mississippi: Hinds County Jails in Crisis, Face Mandated Reforms
Prison Legal News
Date: 01/15/2017
By: David Reutter, Prison Legal News (Prison Legal News )
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

  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 ]

Court Docket(s)
S.D. Miss.
08/04/2020
3:16-cv-489
JC-MS-0021-9000.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
not recorded
05/21/2015
Letter Regarding Investigation of the Hinds County Adult Detention Center
JC-MS-0021-0001.pdf | Detail
Source: U.S. Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division, Special Litigation Section
S.D. Miss.
06/23/2016
Complaint [ECF# 1]
JC-MS-0021-0002.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
S.D. Miss.
06/23/2016
Settlement Agreement [ECF# 2-1]
JC-MS-0021-0003.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
S.D. Miss.
06/23/2016
Joint Motion for Entry of Settlement Agreement [ECF# 2]
JC-MS-0021-0004.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
S.D. Miss.
07/19/2016
Order [ECF# 8]
JC-MS-0021-0005.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
S.D. Miss.
05/03/2017
Court-Appointed Monitor’s First Monitoring Report [ECF# 12-1]
JC-MS-0021-0012.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
S.D. Miss.
08/23/2017
Court-Appointed Monitor’s Second Monitoring Report [ECF# 16]
JC-MS-0021-0015.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
S.D. Miss.
12/11/2017
Court-Appointed Monitor’s Third Monitoring Report [ECF# 19]
JC-MS-0021-0018.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
S.D. Miss.
08/01/2018
United States v. Hinds County [ECF# 23]
JC-MS-0021-0011.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
S.D. Miss.
11/15/2018
Court-Appointed Monitor’s Sixth Monitoring Report [ECF# 24]
JC-MS-0021-0016.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
S.D. Miss.
03/05/2019
Court Appointed Monitor's Seventh Monitoring Report [ECF# 27]
JC-MS-0021-0006.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
S.D. Miss.
06/27/2019
Court-Appointed Monitor's Eighth Monitoring Report [ECF# 33]
JC-MS-0021-0009.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
S.D. Miss.
11/13/2019
Court-Appointed Monitor’s Ninth Monitoring Report [ECF# 46]
JC-MS-0021-0014.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
S.D. Miss.
01/16/2020
Order [ECF# 60]
JC-MS-0021-0007.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
S.D. Miss.
01/16/2020
Stipulated Order [ECF# 60-1]
JC-MS-0021-0008.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
S.D. Miss.
03/26/2020
Court-Appointed Monitor’s Tenth Monitoring Report [ECF# 67]
JC-MS-0021-0017.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
S.D. Miss.
04/18/2020
Court-Appointed Monitor’s Fourth Monitoring Report [ECF# 22]
JC-MS-0021-0013.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
S.D. Miss.
08/04/2020
Court-Appointed Monitor’s Eleventh Monitoring Report [ECF# 75]
JC-MS-0021-0010.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
show all people docs
Judges Barbour, William Henry Jr. (S.D. Miss.) show/hide docs
JC-MS-0021-0005 | JC-MS-0021-9000
Gargiulo, John C. Court not on record [Magistrate] show/hide docs
JC-MS-0021-9000
Reeves, Carlton Wayne (S.D. Miss.) show/hide docs
JC-MS-0021-0007 | JC-MS-0021-0008 | JC-MS-0021-9000
Monitors/Masters Simpson, Elizabeth E. (New Mexico) show/hide docs
JC-MS-0021-0009 | JC-MS-0021-0010 | JC-MS-0021-0011 | JC-MS-0021-0012 | JC-MS-0021-0013 | JC-MS-0021-0014 | JC-MS-0021-0015 | JC-MS-0021-0016 | JC-MS-0021-0017 | JC-MS-0021-0018
Plaintiff's Lawyers Cheng, Christopher N. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
JC-MS-0021-0002 | JC-MS-0021-0003 | JC-MS-0021-0004 | JC-MS-0021-9000
Coon, Laura (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
JC-MS-0021-0002 | JC-MS-0021-0003 | JC-MS-0021-0004 | JC-MS-0021-9000
Cowall, Laura Coon (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
JC-MS-0021-9000
Davis, Gregory K. (Mississippi) show/hide docs
JC-MS-0021-0003 | JC-MS-0021-0004 | JC-MS-0021-9000
Fleisher, Aaron S (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
JC-MS-0021-9000
Jackson, Shelley (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
JC-MS-0021-9000
Kelley, Elizabeth (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
JC-MS-0021-0002 | JC-MS-0021-0003 | JC-MS-0021-0004 | JC-MS-0021-9000
Lynch, Loretta (New York) show/hide docs
JC-MS-0021-9000
Mayberry, Candace (Mississippi) show/hide docs
JC-MS-0021-9000
Paige, Mitzi Dease (Mississippi) show/hide docs
JC-MS-0021-0002 | JC-MS-0021-0003 | JC-MS-0021-0004 | JC-MS-0021-9000
Rosenbaum, Steven H. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
JC-MS-0021-0002 | JC-MS-0021-0003 | JC-MS-0021-0004 | JC-MS-0021-9000
Russo, Sarah Teresa (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
JC-MS-0021-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Barker, Claire (Mississippi) show/hide docs
JC-MS-0021-0003 | JC-MS-0021-0004 | JC-MS-0021-9000
Chambers, Rayford G (Mississippi) show/hide docs
JC-MS-0021-9000
Gaylor, Tony R (Mississippi) show/hide docs
JC-MS-0021-9000
Prince, Scherrie L (Mississippi) show/hide docs
JC-MS-0021-9000
Simon, Anthony R (Mississippi) show/hide docs
JC-MS-0021-9000
Teeuwissen, Pieter (Mississippi) show/hide docs
JC-MS-0021-0003 | JC-MS-0021-0004 | JC-MS-0021-9000
Other Lawyers Bamzai, Vidhi (Mississippi) show/hide docs
JC-MS-0021-9000
Gupta, Vanita (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
JC-MS-0021-0001 | JC-MS-0021-0003 | JC-MS-0021-0004 | JC-MS-0021-9000
Johnson, Elissa F (Mississippi) show/hide docs
JC-MS-0021-9000
Owens, Jody E. II (Mississippi) show/hide docs
JC-MS-0021-9000
Wu, Paloma (Mississippi) show/hide docs
JC-MS-0021-9000

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