Inmates of the Missouri State Penitentiary in Jefferson City, Missouri, brought a class action lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri under 42 U.S.C. §1983 alleging that they were confined under conditions and subjected to practices that deprived them of ...
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Inmates of the Missouri State Penitentiary in Jefferson City, Missouri, brought a class action lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri under 42 U.S.C. §1983 alleging that they were confined under conditions and subjected to practices that deprived them of constitutional rights, including the Eighth Amendment's prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment and the Fourteenth Amendment's guarantee of due process. The plaintiff class was represented by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). The plaintiffs alleged that they were confined in overcrowded and unsanitary conditions, that they had inadequate medical care, that they were unlawfully subjected to the administration of behavior modifying drugs, that unqualified persons were admitted to practice medicine in the prison, and that inmates were denied constitutionally required procedural rights before being confined to the punitive isolation unit of the prison referred to as the ""Adjustment Center."" By agreement, an order was entered setting the case for trial on September 25, 1978, severing issues, and limiting the issue to be tried to the question of whether there existed at the prison unconstitutional overcrowding and unsanitary conditions. The trial record indicated that the prison cells were designed for single occupancy, yet some of these single person cells were occupied by three people (triple-celling) and others were occupied by two people (double-celling).
On November 3, 1978, the District Court (Judge Elmo B. Hunter) held that triple-celling of inmates and to some extent double-celling was unconstitutional and had to be eliminated. Burks v. Walsh, 461 F.Supp. 454 (W.D.Mo. 1978). Judge Hunter ordered a future hearing to be held to determine a remedy. After that hearing, on November 21, 1978, Judge Hunter set a time table for the elimination of unconstitutional overcrowding and retained jurisdiction of the case. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit (Judge Jesse Smith Henley) affirmed the District Court's decision by holding that the District Court had not abused its discretion in directing that the unconstitutional overcrowding in state prisons be eliminated and in setting timetable for the elimination. Burks v. Teasdale, 603 F.2d 59 (8th Cir. 1979).
Regarding the second portion of the class complaint dealing with deficiencies in the medical treatment at the hospital in the state prison, the District Court (Judge Elmo B. Hunter) ruled on May 23, 1980, that the performance of surgery by non-physicians during non-emergency situations at the hospital exhibited a gross deliberate indifference to serious medical needs of inmates requiring surgical services at the hospital and would not be constitutionally tolerated. Burks v. Teasdale, 492 F.Supp. 650 (W.D.Mo. 1980). However, Judge Hunter also held that background qualifications, experience, and ongoing training of medical assistants and inmate personnel at the hospital were not constitutionally deficient and that it was unnecessary to enter an order requiring an evaluative review of the qualifications of paraprofessional personnel at the hospital.
The docket for this case is not available on PACER, therefore no further information is available.Tom Madison - 04/07/2006