On May 15, 1995 inmates in the Alabama State Prison System filed a class action lawsuit in the United States District Court for the Middle District of Alabama under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against the Alabama Department of Corrections (DOC) and the Governor of Alabama. Plaintiffs were represented by the ...
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On May 15, 1995 inmates in the Alabama State Prison System filed a class action lawsuit in the United States District Court for the Middle District of Alabama under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against the Alabama Department of Corrections (DOC) and the Governor of Alabama. Plaintiffs were represented by the Southern Poverty Law Center and private attorneys. The lawsuit challenged several policies and practices within the state prison system, including the failure to provide adequate toilet facilities to inmates on work squad. The DOC had implemented a policy where inmates on work squad were chained together in a "chain gang" and not provided with sufficient toilet facilities or facilities to wash their hands. They also remained chained together while using the facilities. On June 19, 1996, the parties stipulated that chaining the inmates together was no longer a practice of the DOC. That stipulation also dismissed the governor as a defendant.
The parties entered a settlement agreement and the district court (Judge Myron H. Thompson) approved the agreement on August 10, 1998. Austin v. Hopper, 15 F.Supp.2d 1210 (M.D.Ala. 1998). According to the settlement agreement, the DOC would provide soap, water, and toilet paper and increase the number of toilets available. The court ordered the parties to file notice of the settlement to class members and provide a form for members to file their objections. The parties filed this notice on September 8, 1998 and the court approved it on September 22, 1998. On December 7, 1998, the court approved the settlement agreement and dismissed the claim. Austin v. Hopper, 28 F.Supp.2d 1231 (M.D.Ala. 1998).
Over the next five years, litigation continued regarding other practices of the DOC and attorneys' fees. On February 28, 2003, Magistrate Judge Susan R. Walker ordered mediation. On September 30, 2003, Judge Myron H. Thompson awarded plaintiffs $213,471.99. However, as of November 7, 2014, the court has still inexplicably failed to enter the judgement.Angela Heverling - 05/18/2006
Richard Jolly - 11/06/2014