Plaintiffs, five white and five black prisoners at the Georgia State Prison in Reidsville, filed a pro se law suit under 42 U.S.C. §1983 in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia to enjoin the application of a desegregation order in Wilson v. Kelley, 294 F.Supp 1005 (N.D. Ga. ...
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Plaintiffs, five white and five black prisoners at the Georgia State Prison in Reidsville, filed a pro se law suit under 42 U.S.C. §1983 in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia to enjoin the application of a desegregation order in Wilson v. Kelley, 294 F.Supp 1005 (N.D. Ga. 1968) (PC-GA-004). That order compelled the mandatory desegregation of all penal institutions within the state by January 1, 1969. Plaintiffs here sought to have a "strictly voluntary and freedom of choice" plan to be substituted for the mandatory desegregation requirement. In bringing this section 1983 suit, they alleged violations of the Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment. Specifically, they alleged that the desegregation of an unwilling population might result in the deprivation of their physical well-being, liberty, and possibly their lives, without due process.
By the time this suit was filed, desegregation efforts had already begun. Specifically, the plaintiffs alleged that on November 14, 1968, approximately thirty black prisoners were moved from a segregated unit to a formerly all white unit. The plaintiffs speculated that this effort toward implementation, along with future efforts would result in violence due to the tensions of intermingling previous segregated races. Moreover, they asserted that anything beyond a freedom of choice plan would be met with violent resistance.
The court denied the prisoners' petition. Rentfrow v. Carter, 296 F.Supp 301 (N.D. Ga. 1968) (Judge Albert John Henderson). In its denial, the court emphasized that the Wilson order precluded any judicial interference, such as by the substitution of a freedom of choice plan. Moreover, the court noted that the plaintiffs failed to show that the current efforts had resulted in any sort of violence, and in fact, expressly recognized in their petition the ability of the staff to maintain order and control in the segregated units. Finally, the court suggested that if tensions did rise, the appropriate recourse would be disciplinary actions against the offenders rather than a return to segregation.
The docket for this case is not available on PACER, and therefore our information ends with the December 5, 1968 court opinion.Sherrie Waldrup - 03/06/2006