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Case Name U.S. v. Harrison County JC-MS-0013
Docket / Court 1:95-cv-5 ( S.D. Miss. )
State/Territory Mississippi
Case Type(s) Jail Conditions
Case Summary
On May 3, 1993, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) notified Harrison County, Mississippi of its intention to investigate conditions of the county jail under the Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act (CRIPA), 42 U.S.C. 1997 et seq. Following the investigation, the DOJ sent a letter ... read more >
On May 3, 1993, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) notified Harrison County, Mississippi of its intention to investigate conditions of the county jail under the Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act (CRIPA), 42 U.S.C. 1997 et seq. Following the investigation, the DOJ sent a letter notifying the president of the Harrison County Board of Supervisors of its findings. The DOJ found there were too few staffed officers per inmates and significant deficiencies in the officers' training. These underlying problems lead to excessive discipline of inmates, lack of access to legal materials, and unsecured dangerous objects, including kitchen knives and prescription medication. The DOJ also found the suicide prevention program, as well as general medical and mental health care of the inmates, to be inadequate. The DOJ findings letter then made recommendations as to the minimum remedial measure needed to meet constitutional standards.

Negotiations led to settlement; the Attorney General filed a CRIPA action against the jail on January 6, 1995. Although it is not mentioned in the docket sheet, presumably the parties provided the court with their proposed consent decree. Six days later, Judge Walter J. Gex III approved a consent decree, which laid out steps the county must take to improve issues discussed in the DOJ's letter of findings and recommendations.

The consent decree mandated that the county double the number of officers per shift, have a female officer on duty at all times. The officers were to have 80 hours of training before starting their employment, with 40 hours of training per year thereafter. The decree prohibited using the 'strip cells', or cells without amenities, to house inmates. The county was also required to implement procedures that identified and properly stored dangerous materials and open a law library that was accessible at least eight hours a day, five days a week. For medical care, the county agreed to hire a medical professional and to both screen and monitor the inmates health. The county also agreed to hire a psychologist on at least a half-time basis and develop a suicide prevention program. The county was given one year to be in compliance with this decree.

On November 4, 1996, the county sheriff submitted a report, claiming substantial compliance with the consent decree. On April 15, 1999, the case was placed on the inactive docket of the court.

In 2000 two inmates from the county jail sent the court letters claiming the constitutional rights were continuing to be violated. The court dismissed these petitions, but the county jail restarted submitting status reports regarding the conditions of the jail.

On May 28, 2003, the DOJ filed a motion for an order to show cause why defendants should not be held in contempt for failure to comply with the 1995 consent decree. On March 23, 2004, Judge Walter J. Gex III held a hearing regarding the motion. Judge Gex ultimately determined to stay the issue of contempt, predicated on the defendants' agreement to allocate funds towards the jail and hire certain numbers of additional staff to address the concerns raised in the DOJ's motion. This defendants were also required to continue to file status reports regarding the facility quarterly.

Throughout the next ten years, Judge Walter J. Gex III issued several minute orders requiring the defendants to be more thorough in their status reports.

On May 9, 2014, the case was reassigned to Chief District Judge Louis Guirola, Jr.

On August 11, 2015, the parties filed a joint motion for dismissal, citing increased physician, psychiatrist, and mental health staffing; the creation of a chronic care program; and implementation of new auditing and quality assurance mechanisms. In the motion, the defendants stated that they would continue to use their best efforts to make progress in their auditing, their peer review of medical services, policies and practices, and to appoint a specific representative for persons with mental illnesses whose job would be to advocate for alternatives to institutionalization and seek funding for mental health services.

Judge Louis Guirola, Jr. terminated the 1995 consent decree and dismissed the case with prejudice the next day.

Kristen Sagar - 06/04/2007
Kathryn DeLong
- 05/22/2016

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Issues and Causes of Action
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Constitutional Clause
Cruel and Unusual Punishment
Content of Injunction
Other requirements regarding hiring, promotion, retention
Classification / placement
Conditions of confinement
Disciplinary procedures
Failure to train
Law library access
Staff (number, training, qualifications, wages)
Suicide prevention
Medical/Mental Health
Medical care, general
Medication, administration of
Mental health care, general
Suicide prevention
Plaintiff Type
City/County Plaintiff
Type of Facility
Causes of Action Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act (CRIPA), 42 U.S.C. ยง 1997 et seq.
Defendant(s) Harrison County Jail
Plaintiff Description United States Department of Justice
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 1995 - 2015
Filing Year 1995
Case Closing Year 2015
Case Ongoing No
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 ]

1:95-cv-0005-WJG (S.D. Miss.)
JC-MS-0013-9000.pdf | Detail
Date: 08/12/2015
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Notice Letter re: CRIPA Investigation of Harrison County Jail, Gulfport, Mississippi
JC-MS-0013-0001.pdf | Detail
Date: 05/03/1993
Findings Letter re: CRIPA Investigation of Harrison County Jail, Gulfport, Mississippi
JC-MS-0013-0002.pdf | Detail
Date: 09/09/1993
Consent Decree (S.D. Miss.)
JC-MS-0013-0004.pdf | Detail
Date: 12/07/1994
Certificate of the Attorney General
JC-MS-0013-0006.pdf | Detail
Date: 12/07/1994
JC-MS-0013-0003.pdf | Detail
Date: 01/06/1995
Consent Judgment (S.D. Miss.)
JC-MS-0013-0005.pdf | Detail
Date: 01/12/1995
Judges Gex, Walter J. III (S.D. Miss.)
JC-MS-0013-0004 | JC-MS-0013-0005 | JC-MS-0013-9000
Guirola, Louis Jr. (W.D. Tex., S.D. Miss.)
Plaintiff's Lawyers Lindsey, Crockett (District of Columbia)
Maddox, William G. (District of Columbia)
Nobile, Thornton Russell (District of Columbia)
Patrick, Deval L. (District of Columbia)
JC-MS-0013-0003 | JC-MS-0013-0004 | JC-MS-0013-0005
Payne, Timothy R. (District of Columbia)
JC-MS-0013-0003 | JC-MS-0013-0004 | JC-MS-0013-0005
Peabody, Arthur E. Jr. (District of Columbia)
JC-MS-0013-0003 | JC-MS-0013-0004 | JC-MS-0013-0005
Pigott, Bradley (Mississippi)
JC-MS-0013-0003 | JC-MS-0013-0004 | JC-MS-0013-0005
Reno, Janet (District of Columbia)
JC-MS-0013-0003 | JC-MS-0013-0006
Sperber, Joseph J. IV (District of Columbia)
Turner, James P. (District of Columbia)
JC-MS-0013-0001 | JC-MS-0013-0002
Whitfield, John H (Mississippi)
Defendant's Lawyers Dukes, William F. (Mississippi)
Faneca, Cyril T. (Mississippi)
Holleman, Tim C. (Mississippi)
Jarrell, Phillip W. (Mississippi)
Meadows, Joseph R. (Mississippi)
JC-MS-0013-0004 | JC-MS-0013-0005 | JC-MS-0013-9000
Necaise, Albert L. (Mississippi)
Verret, Mark Wayne (Louisiana)
White, D. Jeffrey (Mississippi)

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