University of Michigan Law School
Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse
new search
page permalink
Case Name Hinkley v. Fair CJ-MA-0002
Docket / Court 88-064 ( State Court )
State/Territory Massachusetts
Case Type(s) Criminal Justice (Other)
Case Summary
This case challenged Massachusetts’ policy of civilly committing women suffering from alcoholism in a state prison. In addition to being a significant violation of the committed women’s civil liberties, this practice did not mirror how men facing similar challenges were treated. The plaintiffs, ... read more >
This case challenged Massachusetts’ policy of civilly committing women suffering from alcoholism in a state prison. In addition to being a significant violation of the committed women’s civil liberties, this practice did not mirror how men facing similar challenges were treated. The plaintiffs, two women who were civilly committed by the Commonwealth in the late 1980s, filed this class action lawsuit in Hampshire County Superior Court in 1988. They were represented by attorneys from the Center for Public Representation.

On November 30, 1990, the plaintiffs reached a settlement with the Commonwealth. In it, Massachusetts agreed to expand its network of community based substances abuse treatment centers for women, allow women civilly committed in connection with alcoholism to leave if they did not consent to treatment, not incarcerate women whose substance abuse issues could be treated in a community setting, and release civilly people, both men and women, early if their release would not result in a likelihood of harm. The Commonwealth also agreed to provide the plaintiffs with at least four quarterly reports on their compliance with the settlements terms and allowed the plaintiffs ask the court for an injunction to enforce its terms. According to the Center for Public Representation’s website, the Commonwealth also agreed to pay $120,000 in attorneys’ fees and monetary damages.

Because of the age of the case, the Clearinghouse does not have information about how long the monitoring portion remained in effect, but the case is presumably closed.

Jonah Hudson-Erdman - 11/24/2021


compress summary

- click to show/hide ALL -
Issues and Causes of Action
click to show/hide detail
Issues
Affected Gender
Female
Content of Injunction
Goals (e.g., for hiring, admissions)
Monitoring
General
Commitment procedure
Counseling
Discharge & termination plans
Informed consent/involuntary medication
Over/Unlawful Detention
Placement in detention facilities
Placement in mental health facilities
Rehabilitation
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Causes of Action State law

Defendant(s) Commonwealth of Massachusetts
Plaintiff Description Women civilly committed and detained in a Massachusetts state prison because of their alcoholism.
Class action status sought Yes
Class action status outcome Unknown
Filed Pro Se No
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief Damages
Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement
Source of Relief Settlement
Form of Settlement Court Approved Settlement or Consent Decree
Order Duration 1990 - 1991
Filed 1988
Case Ongoing No
Court Docket(s)
No docket sheet currently in the collection
General Documents
State Trial Court
11/30/1990
Settlement Agreement
CJ-MA-0002-0002.pdf | Detail
Source: Plaintiffs' counsel
show all people docs
Plaintiff's Lawyers Costanzo, Cathy E. (Massachusetts) show/hide docs
CJ-MA-0002-0002
Reinstein, John (Massachusetts) show/hide docs
CJ-MA-0002-0002
Schwartz, Steven J. (Massachusetts) show/hide docs
CJ-MA-0002-0002
Wilkins, Douglas H. (Massachusetts) show/hide docs
CJ-MA-0002-0002

- click to show/hide ALL -

new search
page permalink

- top of page -