University of Michigan Law School
Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse
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Case Name Reid v. Wetzel PC-PA-0045
Docket / Court 1:18-cv-00176-JEJ ( M.D. Pa. )
State/Territory Pennsylvania
Case Type(s) Prison Conditions
Attorney Organization ACLU Chapters (any)
ACLU National Prison Project
Case Summary
On January 25, 2018, five death-sentenced prisoners in Pennsylvania filed this class action lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania against the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections (DOC). Represented by the Abolitionist Law Center, the ACLU National Prison ... read more >
On January 25, 2018, five death-sentenced prisoners in Pennsylvania filed this class action lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania against the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections (DOC). Represented by the Abolitionist Law Center, the ACLU National Prison Project, and the ACLU of Pennsylvania, the plaintiffs sought declaratory and injunctive relief along with attorneys fees and costs under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. The plaintiffs challenged the DOC's practice of automatically placing all death-sentenced prisoners into solitary confinement merely because they were sentenced to death and claimed that this violated their Eighth Amendment right to be free from cruel and unusual punishment and their Fourteenth Amendment Due Process right.

The solitary confinement conditions meant that prisoners spent 22-24 hours a day inside a cell about 8 feet by 12 feet. Unlike other prisoners, this placement in solitary is not triggered by violations of prison rules or a need for protective custody, and there is no procedure for prisoners to challenge placement in solitary. Nearly 80 percent of these prisoners have spent more than a decade in this form of solitary confinement.

The plaintiffs sought a permanent injunction enjoining defendants from automatically confining all death-sentenced prisoners in indefinite solitary confinement with no opportunity for review. The plaintiffs also sought a permanent injunction requiring the defendant to present a plan that provides for individual assessment of death sentenced prisoners based on a validated risk assessment.

The case was assigned to Judge John E. Jones III. On March 29, 2018, the plaintiffs filed an unopposed motion to certify class and appoint class counsel. The plaintiffs defined the class as “all current and future death-sentenced prisoners in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.” On April 29, 2018, Judge Jones granted the unopposed motion.

The case is ongoing.

Jake Parker - 05/25/2018


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Constitutional Clause
Cruel and Unusual Punishment
Due Process
Defendant-type
Corrections
General
Administrative segregation
Classification / placement
Conditions of confinement
Disciplinary procedures
Disciplinary segregation
Recreation / Exercise
Religious programs / policies
Solitary confinement/Supermax (conditions or process)
Torture
Totality of conditions
Visiting
Medical/Mental Health
Mental health care, general
Mental health care, unspecified
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Type of Facility
Government-run
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. § 1983
Defendant(s) Pennsylvania Department of Corrections
Plaintiff Description All current and future death-sentenced prisoners in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.
Indexed Lawyer Organizations ACLU Chapters (any)
ACLU National Prison Project
Class action status sought Yes
Class action status granted Yes
Filed Pro Se No
Prevailing Party None Yet / None
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief None yet
Source of Relief None yet
Filing Year 2018
Case Ongoing Yes
Additional Resources
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  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)
1:18-cv-176 (M.D. Pa.)
PC-PA-0045-9000.pdf | Detail
Date: 04/19/2018
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Class Action Complaint for Declaratory and Injunctive Relief [ECF# 1]
PC-PA-0045-0001.pdf | Detail
Date: 01/25/2018
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order Granting Class Certification and Appointment of Class Counsel [ECF# 29] (M.D. Pa.)
PC-PA-0045-0002.pdf | Detail
Date: 04/03/2018
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Judges Jones, John E. III (M.D. Pa.)
PC-PA-0045-0002 | PC-PA-0045-9000
Plaintiff's Lawyers Baylson, Mira (Pennsylvania)
PC-PA-0045-0001 | PC-PA-0045-9000
Brown, Wilson M. III (Pennsylvania)
PC-PA-0045-0001 | PC-PA-0045-9000
Fathi, David Cyrus (District of Columbia)
PC-PA-0045-0001 | PC-PA-0045-9000
Feinberg, Jonathan H. (Pennsylvania)
PC-PA-0045-0001 | PC-PA-0045-9000
Fettig, Amy (District of Columbia)
PC-PA-0045-0001 | PC-PA-0045-9000
Gross, Barry (Pennsylvania)
PC-PA-0045-0001 | PC-PA-0045-9000
Grote, Bret D. (Pennsylvania)
PC-PA-0045-0001 | PC-PA-0045-9000
Lin, Susan M. (Pennsylvania)
PC-PA-0045-0001 | PC-PA-0045-9000
Morgan, Jamelia N. (Pennsylvania)
PC-PA-0045-0001 | PC-PA-0045-9000
Sholes, Desiree H. (District of Columbia)
PC-PA-0045-0001 | PC-PA-0045-9000
Taticchi, Mark (Pennsylvania)
PC-PA-0045-0001 | PC-PA-0045-9000
Walczak, Witold J. (Pennsylvania)
PC-PA-0045-0001 | PC-PA-0045-9000
Defendant's Lawyers DeFelice, Chase M. (Pennsylvania)
PC-PA-0045-9000
Fulginiti, Joseph (Pennsylvania)
PC-PA-0045-9000
Holmes, Timothy A. (Pennsylvania)
PC-PA-0045-9000
Macus, Maria G (Pennsylvania)
PC-PA-0045-9000
Perez, Theron (Pennsylvania)
PC-PA-0045-9000

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