A class of inmates filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan against the State of Michigan, the Michigan Department of Corrections, and wardens of three prisons, alleging that conditions of confinement in response to a series of riots violated the inmates' ...
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A class of inmates filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan against the State of Michigan, the Michigan Department of Corrections, and wardens of three prisons, alleging that conditions of confinement in response to a series of riots violated the inmates' First, Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendment rights. Plaintiffs were represented by private counsel. The plaintiff class consisted of all present and future inmates at Marquette Branch Prison, State Prison of Southern Michigan, and Michigan Reformatory at Ionia.
The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan (Judge Stewart A. Newblatt), found that conditions at the three prisons had changed drastically after riots at all three facilities in late May, 1981, and that there existed no definite plans for removal of the post-riot restrictions. Walker v. Johnson, 544 F.Supp. 345 (E.D.Mich. 1982). Pursuant to these findings, the Court held that prisoners assigned to administrative segregation as punishment for misconduct were entitled to due process; the drastic reduction of yard time was unconstitutional; severely restricted access to the law library was unconstitutional and access must be restored to pre-riot levels; the requirement that prisoners walk naked to and from showers was unconstitutional; and the total ban on group religious services violated the inmates' First Amendment rights. However, the court held that dining procedures, denial of sports equipment, shower allotments, visitation privileges, and the elimination of special activities, on the other hand, did not violate the Constitution.
The United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit (Judge Harry Walker Wellford) affirmed in part, reversed in part, and remanded in part. Walker v. Mintzes, 771 F.2d 920 (6th Cir. 1985). The court affirmed the district court's rulings as to shower allotments and the walk to and from showers and as to the due process rights of inmates in administrative segregation. The court affirmed the district court's requirement to restore law library access to pre-riot levels and remanded for a specific finding of whether access to the courts had been denied to any prisoner. The court questioned the district court's imposition of specific yard time requirements for each prison and remanded this issue for clarification. Finally, the court remanded the issue of religious services because the district court had failed to consider the state's security and disciplinary interests during the emergency lockdown. We have no further information concerning the district court's findings on remand or any subsequent litigation.Megan Raynor - 04/17/2006