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Case Name Williams v. McKeithen PC-LA-0001
Docket / Court 71-CV-98B ( M.D. La. )
State/Territory Louisiana
Case Type(s) Prison Conditions
Special Collection Civil Rights Division Archival Collection
Attorney Organization U.S. Dept. of Justice Civil Rights Division
Case Summary
This is one of a collection of § 1983 inmate cases filed in Louisiana federal courts to challenge the operation and conditions of confinement in the Louisiana prison system and in parish and city jails through Louisiana. These cases have worked their way through the federal courts over the last ... read more >
This is one of a collection of § 1983 inmate cases filed in Louisiana federal courts to challenge the operation and conditions of confinement in the Louisiana prison system and in parish and city jails through Louisiana. These cases have worked their way through the federal courts over the last four decades and are part of this collection, located at PC-LA, JC-LA and JI-LA.

In this case, four Louisiana prison inmates filed a civil rights lawsuit on March 26, 1971, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §§ 1981 and 1983, against the Louisiana Department of Public Safety and Corrections [the Department] in U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Louisiana. Plaintiffs, represented by private counsel, alleged unconstitutional conditions of confinement in violation of the First, Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments. Plaintiffs sought declaratory and injunctive relief, as well as class certification. The case was originally styled Williams v. McKeithen, (case no. 71-98B.) and was subsequently styled Williams v. Edwards. (Pleadings and court opinions have used both case captions.)

The plaintiffs filed amended complaints on August 11, 1971 and August 10, 1973. On May 21, 1973, the United States was allowed to intervene in the suit on the issues of racial discrimination, and the court sua sponte ordered amicus curiae participation on the conditions of inmate confinement and treatment.

A bench trial on the merits was held in December 1973 before a Magistrate Judge acting as Special Master. In April 1975, the Special Master issued a report, finding problems with inmate safety (from both physical attacks and sexual abuses) due to overcrowding and improper supervision, medical care, maintenance, food service, racial segregation, religious freedom, mail censorship, and electrical and fire safety. In June 1975, the District Court (Judge E. Gordon West) adopted the Special Master’s report and entered an injunction designed to improve prison conditions and decentralize the Louisiana prison system. The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed on February 15, 1977 and remanded the case for a determination of appropriate inmate population limits and security staffing requirements. Williams v. Edwards, 547 F.2d 1206 (5th Cir. 1977).

On remand, the case moved into the remedial phase. In 1983, the District Court entered an order (1983 Order or Consent Decree), which approved a Department plan proposing staffing patterns and inmate population limits throughout the state.

In November 1986 and again in January 1988, the District Court extended the duration of the 1983 Order so that the Department could comply with its provisions. In October 1990, the court denied the plaintiff’s request for settlement, due to the fact that they needed more time to work on the mental health program at the Louisiana State Penitentiary. In June 1989, the court declared a State of Emergency and appointed an expert because the conditions were still bad, and the Department could not comply with the 1983 Order. On January 28, 1991, the district court certified the case a class action and in 1993, the District Court again issued an order extending the 1983 Order. and between 1992 and 1994, the District Court modified the 1983 Order several different times at the request of the Department. Between 1992 and 1994, the District Court also granted nine requests to partially terminate the supervision of the court over nine facilities under the 1983 Order.

In February 1995 and again in March 1995, the Court ordered the Department to identify (1) each facility that was used to house state inmates, (2) the number of beds available in the state prisons, and (3) whether any additional beds could be made available.

In May 1995, the District Court issued findings of fact which included: (1) State prisons were at or near capacity authorized by the 1983 Order; (2) less that 1000 vacancies existed in all local facilities; (3) a crisis existed with respect to housing the Department's inmates; (4) inmates were being released prematurely due to lack of jail space; and (5) there was no plan to construct additional bed space. After meeting with the parties and experts, in July 1995, the Court issued the "'95 Reinstatement Order," which vacated each of the nine modification orders to the 1983 Order, essentially bringing back those nine facilities into the supervision of the District Court. The Department appealed.

On appeal, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals (Judge Jacques Loeb Wiener, Jr.) held that the original 1983 Order, which had been treated as a consent decree, had the full force and effect of a judicial resolution of the dispute. Additionally, the Fifth Circuit ordered that the District Court had properly retained jurisdiction of the matter, and that it did not abuse its discretion in issuing the 1995 Reinstatement Order. The Fifth Circuit also held that the District Court’s relief was not in conflict with the newly enacted Prison Litigation Reform Act because it was not fashioning any prospective relief. Williams v. Edwards, 87 F.3d 126 (5th Cir. 1996), rehearing en banc denied, 95 F.3d 56 (5th Cir. 1996).

On September 26, 1996, the Williams parties filed a Petition for Order Approving Settlement for Purpose of Terminating Consent Decrees, in which the parties had agreed to the "dismissal of all consent decrees" for all state, parish, and city facilities housing DOC inmates, except the Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola and specified juvenile detention facilities, effective April 1, 1997. Following a hearing, the District Court (Judge Frank J. Polozola) approved the settlement.

The plaintiffs in the case Hamilton v. Morial, [JC-LA-3] (Hamilton plaintiffs) sought intervention in the Williams case, to challenge the settlement and dismissal of population cap consent decrees. Intervention was denied on November 26, 1996.

Pursuant to the settlement, on April 1, 1997 Judge Polozola entered an order finally releasing all state facilities—with the exception of the Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola, the Louisiana Training Institute – Monroe, the Louisiana Training Institute – Bridge City, the Jetson Correctional Center for Youth, and the Tallulah Correctional Center for Youth—from further supervision and reporting requirements to the District Court and, in doing so, noted that it earlier had released all parish and local facilities from further supervision and reporting requirements. The Hamilton plaintiffs appealed, but the appeal was ultimately dismissed as untimely. Hamilton v. Williams, 147 F.3d 367 (5th Cir. 1998).

In November 1998, District Judge Polozola ordered the Williams consolidated with U.S. v. Louisiana Civ. No. 98-947-B-1 [JI-LA-1] (CRIPA lawsuit alleging unconstitutional conditions of confinement at the Jetson, Bridge City, Swanson and Tallulah juvenile facilities) and Brian B. v. Stadler Civ. No. 98-886-B-M1 [JI-LA-6] (private class action challenging conditions at Tallulah). A Settlement Agreement was reached in the consolidated cases in 2000, followed by modified agreements in 2003 and 2004. On May 2, 2006, at the joint request of all parties, the District Court (Judge James J. Brady) dismissed all of the consolidated cases.

See U.S. v. Louisiana (JI-LA-1) for a more detailed summary of the procedural history of the case after the 1998 consolidation.

Dan Dalton - 02/23/2007
Caitlin Kierum - 03/18/2020


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Constitutional Clause
Cruel and Unusual Punishment
Due Process
Due Process: Procedural Due Process
Free Exercise Clause
Freedom of speech/association
Content of Injunction
Monitoring
Crowding
Crowding / caseload
Pre-PLRA Population Cap
Defendant-type
Corrections
Jurisdiction-wide
Discrimination-basis
Race discrimination
General
Administrative segregation
Assault/abuse by residents/inmates/students
Assault/abuse by staff
Classification / placement
Conditions of confinement
Disciplinary segregation
Fire safety
Food service / nutrition / hydration
Juveniles
Mail
Racial segregation
Religious programs / policies
Sanitation / living conditions
Sexual abuse by residents/inmates
Staff (number, training, qualifications, wages)
Totality of conditions
Medical/Mental Health
Dental care
Medical care, general
Mental health care, general
Self-injurious behaviors
Suicide prevention
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
U.S. Dept of Justice plaintiff
Type of Facility
Government-run
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. § 1981
42 U.S.C. § 1983
Defendant(s) Louisiana State Penitentiary
Plaintiff Description Inmates challenging the constitutionality of their housing conditions at Louisiana facilities
Indexed Lawyer Organizations U.S. Dept. of Justice Civil Rights Division
Class action status sought Yes
Class action status granted Yes
Filed Pro Se Unknown
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement
Source of Relief Litigation
Settlement
Form of Settlement Court Approved Settlement or Consent Decree
Order Duration 1975 - 2006
Filed 03/26/1971
Case Closing Year 2006
Case Ongoing No
Case Listing JI-LA-0001 : United States v. Louisiana (M.D. La.)
JC-LA-0021 : In re Parish Prison [Jail] Populations (M.D. La.)
JI-LA-0006 : Brian B. v. Stalder (M.D. La.)
JI-LA-0008 : In re Juvenile Justice Facilities (M.D. La.)
JI-LA-0007 : A.A. v. Wackenhut (M.D. La.)
JI-LA-0011 : R.B. v. Livers (E.D. La.)
Docket(s)
71-CV-98 (M.D. La.)
PC-LA-0001-9002.pdf | Detail
Date: 03/11/1993
Source: Nat'l Archives (NARA)-details in other
71-CV-98 (M.D. La.)
PC-LA-0001-9003.pdf | Detail
Date: 03/11/1993
Source: Nat'l Archives (NARA)-details in other
71-CV-98 (M.D. La.)
PC-LA-0001-9001.pdf | Detail
Date: 01/21/1998
71-CV-98 (M.D. La.)
PC-LA-0001-9000.pdf | Detail
Date: 07/07/2004
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Settlement Agreement for Medical, Dental, Mental Health, Rehabilitation and Juvenile Justice Issues
PC-LA-0001-0020.pdf | External Link | Detail
Date:
Special Master's Report
PC-LA-0001-0001.pdf | Detail
Date: 04/28/1975
Judgment and Order (M.D. La.)
PC-LA-0001-0002.pdf | Detail
Date: 06/10/1975
Opinion (547 F.2d 1206)
PC-LA-0001-0032.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 02/15/1977
Source: Google Scholar
[Order] (495 F.Supp. 707) (M.D. La.)
PC-LA-0001-0034.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 08/04/1980
Source: Google Scholar
Stipulation & Consent Decree
PC-LA-0001-0005.pdf | Detail
Date: 11/19/1983
Memorandum on the Issue of Who Represents the State (1990 WL 265971) (M.D. La.)
PC-LA-0001-0036.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Date: 07/20/1990
Reported Opinion (939 F.2d 1100)
PC-LA-0001-0029.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 08/13/1991
Source: Google Scholar
Opinion (963 F.2d 70)
PC-LA-0001-0030.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 06/04/1992
Source: Google Scholar
Order (1993 U.S.Dist.LEXIS 21193) (M.D. La.)
PC-LA-0001-0038.pdf | LEXIS | Detail
Date: 05/27/1993
Source: LexisNexis
Opinion (87 F.3d 126)
PC-LA-0001-0033.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 06/16/1996
Source: Google Scholar
Opinion (95 F.3d 56)
PC-LA-0001-0037.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 08/24/1996
Petition for order approving settlement for purpose of terminating Consent Decrees
PC-LA-0001-0008.pdf | Detail
Date: 09/26/1996
Order approving Settlement (M.D. La.)
PC-LA-0001-0009.pdf | Detail
Date: 09/26/1996
Order (M.D. La.)
PC-LA-0001-0010.pdf | Detail
Date: 09/26/1996
Amended November 17, 1995 Judgment and order (09-26-96) (M.D. La.)
PC-LA-0001-0011.pdf | Detail
Date: 09/26/1996
Minute Entry (M.D. La.)
PC-LA-0001-0024.pdf | Detail
Date: 09/26/1996
Order (M.D. La.)
PC-LA-0001-0023.pdf | Detail
Date: 10/22/1996
Order (M.D. La.)
PC-LA-0001-0012.pdf | Detail
Date: 12/09/1996
Motion and Order to clarify consent Decree (12-20-96) (M.D. La.)
PC-LA-0001-0013.pdf | Detail
Date: 12/20/1996
Order (M.D. La.)
PC-LA-0001-0014.pdf | Detail
Date: 02/24/1997
Order (M.D. La.)
PC-LA-0001-0015.pdf | Detail
Date: 04/01/1997
Order (M.D. La.)
PC-LA-0001-0019.pdf | Detail
Date: 06/06/1997
Order (M.D. La.)
PC-LA-0001-0016.pdf | Detail
Date: 08/22/1997
Order (M.D. La.)
PC-LA-0001-0017.pdf | Detail
Date: 10/10/1997
Order (M.D. La.)
PC-LA-0001-0018.pdf | Detail
Date: 10/31/1997
Opinion (147 F.3d 367)
PC-LA-0001-0031.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 07/14/1998
Source: Google Scholar
United States' Jena Agreement
PC-LA-0001-0022.pdf | External Link | Detail
Date: 04/01/2000
Memorandum Opinion (121 F.Supp.2d 943) (M.D. La.)
PC-LA-0001-0035.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 10/03/2000
Source: Google Scholar
Order (M.D. La.)
PC-LA-0001-0028.pdf | Detail
Date: 09/13/2001
2003 Settlement Agreement
PC-LA-0001-0021.pdf | External Link | Detail
Date: 01/17/2003
Order (M.D. La.)
PC-LA-0001-0026.pdf | Detail
Date: 07/22/2004
Order (M.D. La.)
PC-LA-0001-0027.pdf | Detail
Date: 12/05/2005
show all people docs
Judges Ainsworth, Robert Andrew Jr. (E.D. La., Fifth Circuit) show/hide docs
PC-LA-0001-0032
Brady, James J. (M.D. La.) show/hide docs
PC-LA-0001-0026 | PC-LA-0001-0027
Davis, W. Eugene (W.D. La., Fifth Circuit) show/hide docs
PC-LA-0001-0030
Garwood, William Lockhart (Fifth Circuit) show/hide docs
PC-LA-0001-0029
Hill, James Clinkscales (N.D. Ga., Fifth Circuit, Eleventh Circuit) show/hide docs
PC-LA-0001-0030
King, Carolyn Dineen (Fifth Circuit) show/hide docs
PC-LA-0001-0030
Politz, Henry Anthony (Fifth Circuit) show/hide docs
PC-LA-0001-0031
Polozola, Frank Joseph (M.D. La.) show/hide docs
PC-LA-0001-0001 | PC-LA-0001-0005 | PC-LA-0001-0009 | PC-LA-0001-0010 | PC-LA-0001-0011 | PC-LA-0001-0012 | PC-LA-0001-0013 | PC-LA-0001-0014 | PC-LA-0001-0015 | PC-LA-0001-0016 | PC-LA-0001-0017 | PC-LA-0001-0018 | PC-LA-0001-0019 | PC-LA-0001-0023 | PC-LA-0001-0024 | PC-LA-0001-0028 | PC-LA-0001-0034 | PC-LA-0001-0035 | PC-LA-0001-0036 | PC-LA-0001-0038 | PC-LA-0001-9000 | PC-LA-0001-9001 | PC-LA-0001-9002
West, Elmer Gordon (E.D. La., M.D. La.) show/hide docs
PC-LA-0001-0001 | PC-LA-0001-0002
Wiener, Jacques Loeb Jr. (Fifth Circuit) show/hide docs
PC-LA-0001-0033
Monitors/Masters Polozola, Frank Joseph (Louisiana) show/hide docs
PC-LA-0001-0001 | PC-LA-0001-0005 | PC-LA-0001-0009 | PC-LA-0001-0010 | PC-LA-0001-0011 | PC-LA-0001-0012 | PC-LA-0001-0013 | PC-LA-0001-0014 | PC-LA-0001-0015 | PC-LA-0001-0016 | PC-LA-0001-0017 | PC-LA-0001-0018 | PC-LA-0001-0019 | PC-LA-0001-0023 | PC-LA-0001-0024 | PC-LA-0001-0028 | PC-LA-0001-0034 | PC-LA-0001-0035 | PC-LA-0001-0036 | PC-LA-0001-0038 | PC-LA-0001-9000 | PC-LA-0001-9001 | PC-LA-0001-9002
Plaintiff's Lawyers Behan, Kathleen A. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
PC-LA-0001-9000
Biles, Blake A. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
PC-LA-0001-9000
Bower, Karen A. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
PC-LA-0001-0015
Boyd, Ralph F. Jr. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
PC-LA-0001-0021
Celeste, Gabriella (Louisiana) show/hide docs
PC-LA-0001-0020 | PC-LA-0001-0035
Cooper, Robert Howard (Louisiana) show/hide docs
PC-LA-0001-9000
Denlinger, June E. (Louisiana) show/hide docs
PC-LA-0001-0015 | PC-LA-0001-0020 | PC-LA-0001-0021 | PC-LA-0001-0024 | PC-LA-0001-0031 | PC-LA-0001-0033 | PC-LA-0001-0035 | PC-LA-0001-9000 | PC-LA-0001-9001 | PC-LA-0001-9002
Dugas, David R. (Louisiana) show/hide docs
PC-LA-0001-0021
Fontana, Luke J. Jr. (Louisiana) show/hide docs
PC-LA-0001-0029 | PC-LA-0001-0032
Frohboese, Robinsue (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
PC-LA-0001-0020 | PC-LA-0001-0022
Goff, Addison Kennon III (Louisiana) show/hide docs
PC-LA-0001-0035 | PC-LA-0001-9000
Gonzales, Douglas M. (Louisiana) show/hide docs
PC-LA-0001-0032
Hymel, L. J. Jr. (Louisiana) show/hide docs
PC-LA-0001-0020 | PC-LA-0001-0035
Kahn, Ayesha (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
PC-LA-0001-0031
Kendall, Robert Jr. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
PC-LA-0001-0029
Lee, Bill Lann (California) show/hide docs
PC-LA-0001-0022
Morgan, David L. Jr. (Louisiana) show/hide docs
PC-LA-0001-0032 | PC-LA-0001-0034
Nordyke, Keith B (Louisiana) show/hide docs
PC-LA-0001-0008 | PC-LA-0001-0011 | PC-LA-0001-0020 | PC-LA-0001-0021 | PC-LA-0001-0024 | PC-LA-0001-0029 | PC-LA-0001-0031 | PC-LA-0001-0033 | PC-LA-0001-0035 | PC-LA-0001-9000 | PC-LA-0001-9001
Pelletier, Angela M. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
PC-LA-0001-9000
Prager, Lutz Alexander (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
PC-LA-0001-0029
Preston, Judith C. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
PC-LA-0001-0020 | PC-LA-0001-0021 | PC-LA-0001-0022
Reid, Herbert O. Sr. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
PC-LA-0001-0029
Resetarits, Jeffrey (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
PC-LA-0001-0021
Rosenbaum, Steven H. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
PC-LA-0001-0020 | PC-LA-0001-0021 | PC-LA-0001-0022
Utter, David J. (Louisiana) show/hide docs
PC-LA-0001-0020 | PC-LA-0001-0021 | PC-LA-0001-0035 | PC-LA-0001-9000
Vanderhoof, David J.W. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
PC-LA-0001-0032
Wendtland, Linda S. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
PC-LA-0001-0029
Wolleson, P. Scott (Louisiana) show/hide docs
PC-LA-0001-0035 | PC-LA-0001-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Ardoin, J. Winston (Louisiana) show/hide docs
PC-LA-0001-0013
Baker, John Elliott (Louisiana) show/hide docs
PC-LA-0001-0029
Bardwell, Stanford O. Jr. (Louisiana) show/hide docs
PC-LA-0001-0032
Bowers, Patricia Nalley (Louisiana) show/hide docs
PC-LA-0001-0031
Cedars, Chester R. (Louisiana) show/hide docs
PC-LA-0001-9000 | PC-LA-0001-9001 | PC-LA-0001-9002
Curry, Richard A. (Louisiana) show/hide docs
PC-LA-0001-0008 | PC-LA-0001-0011 | PC-LA-0001-0020 | PC-LA-0001-0021 | PC-LA-0001-0022 | PC-LA-0001-0024 | PC-LA-0001-0031 | PC-LA-0001-0033 | PC-LA-0001-0035
Dubos, Michael L. (Louisiana) show/hide docs
PC-LA-0001-0035
Guste, William J. Jr. (Louisiana) show/hide docs
PC-LA-0001-0032
Halphen, Ann M. (Louisiana) show/hide docs
PC-LA-0001-0035
Hicks, M. Brent (Louisiana) show/hide docs
PC-LA-0001-0021
Ieyoub, Richard P. (Louisiana) show/hide docs
PC-LA-0001-0020 | PC-LA-0001-0021 | PC-LA-0001-0022
Jordan, Eddie J. Jr. (Louisiana) show/hide docs
PC-LA-0001-0035
Joseph, Cheney (Louisiana) show/hide docs
PC-LA-0001-0024
Kline, William Lester (Louisiana) show/hide docs
PC-LA-0001-0031
Koury, Constance A. (Louisiana) show/hide docs
PC-LA-0001-0020
La Clercq, Frederic Theodore (Louisiana) show/hide docs
PC-LA-0001-0035
Lambert, Amy Collier (Louisiana) show/hide docs
PC-LA-0001-0035
Lamonica, P. Raymond (Louisiana) show/hide docs
PC-LA-0001-0005
Lancaster, Michael E. (Louisiana) show/hide docs
PC-LA-0001-9001 | PC-LA-0001-9002
Matthews, Freeman Rudolph (Louisiana) show/hide docs
PC-LA-0001-0029
Montgomery, J. Marvin (Louisiana) show/hide docs
PC-LA-0001-0034
Phelps, Donald T.W. (Louisiana) show/hide docs
PC-LA-0001-0035
Plauche, W. Evan (Louisiana) show/hide docs
PC-LA-0001-0035
Reiger, Shannan Sweeney (Louisiana) show/hide docs
PC-LA-0001-0008 | PC-LA-0001-0011 | PC-LA-0001-0024 | PC-LA-0001-0031
Reynolds, William Bradford (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
PC-LA-0001-0029
Roy, A.J. Jr. (Louisiana) show/hide docs
PC-LA-0001-0029
Simmons, Richard T. Jr. (Louisiana) show/hide docs
PC-LA-0001-0035
Skinner, Michael D. (Louisiana) show/hide docs
PC-LA-0001-0035
Spilman, Joseph L. III (Louisiana) show/hide docs
PC-LA-0001-0035
Thompson, Ronald (Louisiana) show/hide docs
PC-LA-0001-0011
Tooke, Margaret L. (Louisiana) show/hide docs
PC-LA-0001-0035
Tulley, Frederic R. (Louisiana) show/hide docs
PC-LA-0001-0035
Usry, Thomas Allen (Louisiana) show/hide docs
PC-LA-0001-0010 | PC-LA-0001-0024 | PC-LA-0001-0029 | PC-LA-0001-0031
Walker, Annabelle Hoppe (Louisiana) show/hide docs
PC-LA-0001-0031
Other Lawyers Goldschmidt, Iris (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
PC-LA-0001-0020 | PC-LA-0001-0022 | PC-LA-0001-0035 | PC-LA-0001-9000
Landsberg, Brian K. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
PC-LA-0001-0032
Silver, Jessica Dunsay (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
PC-LA-0001-0032

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