University of Michigan Law School
Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse
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Case Name CRIPA Investigation of the Topeka Correctional Facility, Topeka, Kansas PC-KS-0006
Docket / Court No Court Case ( No Court )
State/Territory Kansas
Case Type(s) Prison Conditions
Special Collection Post-PLRA Jail and Prison Private Settlement Agreements
Attorney Organization U.S. Dept. of Justice Civil Rights Division
Case Summary
On April 7, 2011, the U.S. Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division (“DOJ”) notified Kansas that it was opening an investigation into the conditions and practices at the Topeka Correctional Facility (“TCF”), a prison housing about 550 female prisoners. The investigation sought to ... read more >
On April 7, 2011, the U.S. Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division (“DOJ”) notified Kansas that it was opening an investigation into the conditions and practices at the Topeka Correctional Facility (“TCF”), a prison housing about 550 female prisoners. The investigation sought to determine whether prisoners were subjected to sexual abuse or unsafe environmental conditions. It was undertaken under the Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act (“CRIPA”).

DOJ lawyers and an expert consultant visited the facility in May 2011. During the visit, they interviewed staff and prisoners. They also reviewed documents including incident, investigative and disciplinary reports; prisoner grievances; unit logs; medical, environmental, health, and safety records; and orientation and training materials.

On September 6, 2012, the DOJ sent its Findings Letter to Governor of Kansas and the Secretary of the Kansas Department of Corrections ("KDOC"), informing him of the results of the investigation. The Letter stated that TCF had failed to protect women prisoners from sexual abuse and harassment by staff and other prisoners. The DOJ did not find environmental conditions to be unsafe or unconstitutional.

Specifically, the DOJ concluded that the KDOC had failed to fix systemic causes of sexual abuse and misconduct despite repeated investigations and audits exposing the problem. The DOJ found that nearly all of women prisoners feared for their safety because (1) prisoners were subjected to sexual assault and unwanted sexual conduct from staff; (2) prisoners were subjected to sexual violence from other prisoners; (3) sexual misconduct was ingrained within facility culture and (4) prison officials were deliberately indifferent to the harm experienced by women at the facility. The Findings Letter included proposed minimal remedial measures.

The parties soon began negotiating a settlement. On December 22, 2014 they released an out-of-court Memorandum of Agreement. The settlement required the state to address sexual abuse within TCF by mandating compliance with the Prison Rape Elimination Act; a zero tolerance policy; a staffing plan and video monitoring procedures; a classification system and risk assessment process to identify potential threats and victims; staff training; and a grievance, investigation, and disciplinary procedures. The parties would agree to a monitor to conduct evaluations once every 180 days. The agreement was to terminate when the KDOC and TCF had achieved and maintained compliance for one year.

In a DOJ spreadsheet describing all CRIPA matters in 2016, the case was listed as open.

Gabriela Hybel - 05/16/2017


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Affected Gender
Female
Constitutional Clause
Cruel and Unusual Punishment
Content of Injunction
Auditing
Hire
Implement complaint/dispute resolution process
Monitoring
Other requirements regarding hiring, promotion, retention
Recordkeeping
Reporting
Training
Defendant-type
Corrections
General
Assault/abuse by residents/inmates/students
Assault/abuse by staff
Classification / placement
Failure to discipline
Failure to supervise
Failure to train
Grievance Procedures
Incident/accident reporting & investigations
Prison Rape Elimination Act
Sex w/ staff; sexual harassment by staff
Sexual abuse by residents/inmates
Staff (number, training, qualifications, wages)
Plaintiff Type
U.S. Dept of Justice plaintiff
Special Case Type
Out-of-court
Type of Facility
Government-run
Causes of Action Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act (CRIPA), 42 U.S.C. § 1997 et seq.
Defendant(s) Kansas Department of Corrections
Topeka Correctional Facility
Plaintiff Description U.S. Department of Justice, enforcing the rights of inmates at the Topeka Correctional Facility.
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 Private Settlement Agreement
Order Duration 2014 - n/a
Filing Year 2011
Case Ongoing Yes
Additional Resources
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  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)
No docket sheet currently in the collection
General Documents
Findings Letter
PC-KS-0006-0001.pdf | External Link | Detail
Date: 09/06/2012
Source: U.S. Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division, Special Litigation Section
Memorandum of Agreement
PC-KS-0006-0002.pdf | External Link | Detail
Date: 12/22/2014
Source: U.S. Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division, Special Litigation Section
Plaintiff's Lawyers Abbate, Julie K. (District of Columbia)
PC-KS-0006-0002
Grissom, Barry (Kansas)
PC-KS-0006-0002
Gupta, Vanita (District of Columbia)
PC-KS-0006-0002
Holder, Eric H. Jr. (District of Columbia)
PC-KS-0006-0002
Kappelhoff, Mark (District of Columbia)
PC-KS-0006-0002
Maddox, William G. (District of Columbia)
PC-KS-0006-0002
Perez, Thomas E. (District of Columbia)
PC-KS-0006-0001
Smith, Jonathan Mark (District of Columbia)
PC-KS-0006-0002
Defendant's Lawyers Appel, Linden (Kansas)
PC-KS-0006-0002
Schlozman, Bradley (District of Columbia)
PC-KS-0006-0002

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