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Case Name U.S. v. Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands PC-MP-0001
Docket / Court 1:99-cv-00017 ( D. N. Mar. I. )
State/Territory Northern Mariana Islands
Case Type(s) Prison Conditions
Attorney Organization U.S. Dept. of Justice Civil Rights Division
Case Summary
On April 10, 1998, the United States notified Governor Pedro P. Tenorio of the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (Commonwealth) of its intention to investigate conditions at the corrections and detention institutions on the Commonwealth pursuant to the Civil Rights of Institutionalized ... read more >
On April 10, 1998, the United States notified Governor Pedro P. Tenorio of the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (Commonwealth) of its intention to investigate conditions at the corrections and detention institutions on the Commonwealth pursuant to the Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act (CRIPA), 42 U.S.C. § 1997 et seq. The United States investigated conditions at six facilities: the Saipan Prison Complex, the Saipan Detention Facility ("SDF"), the Kagman Youth Facility on Saipan, the Saipan Immigration Detention Facility, the Tinian Detention Facility, and the Rota Detention Facility. On August 5, 1998, the United States sent a findings letter to the Governor stating that conditions at these six facilities violated the constitutional rights of the inmates.

The investigation was initiated after the Justice Department (DOJ) received reports that the prisons and jails had severe safety, health, sanitation, fire-safety and security deficiencies. Cells were locked with padlocks, fire alarms did not function, showers were caked with mold, buildings lacked artificial lighting, the facilities lacked any medical personnel or any health screenings, resulting in a tuberculosis epidemic, and buildings lacked ventilation and adequate staffing.

After notifying the Commonwealth of its findings, the United States filed a lawsuit on February 23, 1999, in the United States District Court for the Northern Mariana Islands against the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands pursuant to CRIPA and the Police Pattern and Practice of Misconduct Statute, 42 U.S.C. §14141. The complaint alleged failure to provide adequate supervision, security, and medical and mental healthcare for both pre-trial detainees and post-conviction prisoners. The United States also alleged that the Commonwealth failed to ensure adequate environmental health, sanitation, and fire safety for the pre-trial detainees and post-conviction prisoners. This case was assigned to Chief Judge Ramona V. Manglona.

Concurrent with the complaint, the parties filed a consent decree that provided for: facility population projections, space requirements, programming and services including medical care, mental health care, food service, and protection from harm, staffing and staff training, security and emergency planning, funding, fire safety measures, food sanitation provisions, hygiene and sanitation provisions, health screenings, and increased security. The district court approved the consent decree on February 25, 1999.

On June 4, 2009, the district court held that after a "rocky" start, the Commonwealth, had made progress. The court noted that in 2003, the defendant had begun submitting quarterly reports outlining the status of operations at the Adult Correctional Facility, Immigration Detention, Juvenile Detention Unit, Rota Detention, and Tinian Detention. Coordination had been ongoing between the Commonwealth and the DOJ in the form of formal reports as well as frequent, informal exchanges of information between the parties. Substantial progress had been made by the Commonwealth including a collaborative, constructive relationship with the DOJ. Following the on-site visit to all of the governed facilities by counsel and retained experts on behalf of the DOJ, progress continued on the issues identified by the parties. The district court ordered the Commonwealth to provide information regarding their medical system to the DOJ for review to assess substantial compliance and the long-term sustainability of the medical system.

On January 30, 2014, the district court deferred ruling on the joint motion to terminate the consent decree pending the parties' submission of a final report. The final status report was filed on April 30, 2014. After finding that the Commonwealth had substantially complied with the terms of the consent decree, the court granted the joint motion to terminate the consent decree on May 20, 2014.

This case is now closed.

Rebekah Henn Sullivan - 07/26/2005
Jessica Kincaid - 03/09/2014
Hannah Greenhouse - 03/21/2019


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Content of Injunction
Reporting
Defendant-type
Corrections
General
Bathing and hygiene
Classification / placement
Fire safety
Sanitation / living conditions
Staff (number, training, qualifications, wages)
Medical/Mental Health
Medical care, general
Mental health care, general
Tuberculosis
Plaintiff Type
U.S. Dept of Justice plaintiff
Type of Facility
Government-run
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. § 14141
Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act (CRIPA), 42 U.S.C. § 1997 et seq.
Defendant(s) Department of Public Safety, Dept. of Labor and Immigration, and Dept. of Community and Cultural Affairs
Plaintiff Description United States Department of Justice
Indexed Lawyer Organizations U.S. Dept. of Justice Civil Rights Division
Class action status sought No
Class action status granted No
Filed Pro Se No
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement
Source of Relief Settlement
Form of Settlement Court Approved Settlement or Consent Decree
Order Duration 1999 - 2014
Filing Year 1999
Case Closing Year 2014
Case Ongoing No
Additional Resources
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  Data examining the Department of Justice's civil rights investigations of local and state police departments
Marshall Project
Date: Jan. 17, 2017
By: Tom Meagher (Marshall Project)
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

  The Civil Rights Division’s Pattern and Practice Police Reform Work: 1994-Present
https://www.justice.gov/
Date: Jan. 4, 2017
By: U.S. Department of Justice
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

  An Interactive Guide to the Civil Rights Division’s Police Reforms
https://www.justice.gov/
Date: Jan. 4, 2017
By: U.S. Department of Justice Civil Rights Division (U.S. Department of Justice)
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

  An Analysis of CRIPA Findings Letters Issued to Jails for Constitutional Violations by the Department of Justice
Date: Apr. 15, 2016
By: Jeff Mellow, Bryce E. Peterson & Mijin Kim (John Jay College of Criminal Justice Faculty)
Citation: Am. J. Crim. Just. (April 2016)
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

  What Happens When Police Are Forced to Reform?
Date: Nov. 13, 2015
By: Kimbriell Kelly, Sarah Childress and Steven Rich (Frontline/Post)
Citation: Washington Post (Nov. 13, 2015)
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

  Federal Enforcement of Police Reform
Date: 2014
By: Stephen Rushin (University of Illinois College of Law, University of California, Berkeley - Jurisprudence and Social Policy Program Faculty)
Citation: 82 Fordham Law Review 3189 (2014)
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

  Civil Rights Injunctions Over Time: A Case Study of Jail and Prison Court Orders
N.Y.U. Law Review
Date: May 2006
By: Margo Schlanger (Washington University Faculty)
Citation: 81 N.Y.U. L. Rev. 550 (2006)
[ Detail ] [ PDF ] [ External Link ]

  Judicial Policy Making and the Modern State: How the Courts Reformed America's Prisons
Book
Date: Jan. 1, 1998
By: Malcolm M. Feeley & Edward Rubin (UC Berkeley Boalt Hall School of Law & Vanderbilt School of Law Faculty Faculty)
Citation: (1998)
[ Detail ]

Docket(s)
99-17 (D. N. Mar. I.)
PC-MP-0001-9000.pdf | Detail
Date: 05/20/2014
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Recommendation to Investigate the Prison and Jails of the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands
PC-MP-0001-0006.pdf | Detail
Date: 04/07/1998
Correctional Facilities of the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands
PC-MP-0001-0007.pdf | Detail
Date: 04/10/1998
Correctional Facilities of the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands
PC-MP-0001-0005.pdf | Detail
Date: 08/05/1998
Stipulation Requesting Entry of Consent Decree and Supporting Memorandum
PC-MP-0001-0001.pdf | Detail
Date: 01/01/1999
Order Granting Parties' Request to Enter Consent Decree (D. N. Mar. I.)
PC-MP-0001-0002.pdf | Detail
Date: 01/01/1999
Complaint
PC-MP-0001-0003.pdf | Detail
Date: 01/01/1999
Consent Decree
PC-MP-0001-0004.pdf | Detail
Date: 02/23/1999
show all people docs
Judges Manglona, Ramona Villagomez (State Trial Court, D. N. Mar. I.) show/hide docs
PC-MP-0001-9000
Munson, Alex R. (D. N. Mar. I.) show/hide docs
PC-MP-0001-0002 | PC-MP-0001-0004
Plaintiff's Lawyers Baka, Gregory (Northern Mariana Islands) show/hide docs
PC-MP-0001-0001 | PC-MP-0001-0003 | PC-MP-0001-9000
Black, Frederick A. (Guam) show/hide docs
PC-MP-0001-0001 | PC-MP-0001-0003 | PC-MP-0001-0004 | PC-MP-0001-0005 | PC-MP-0001-0007
Lee, Bill Lann (California) show/hide docs
PC-MP-0001-0001 | PC-MP-0001-0003 | PC-MP-0001-0004 | PC-MP-0001-0006 | PC-MP-0001-0007
Moossy, Robert J. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
PC-MP-0001-0001 | PC-MP-0001-0003 | PC-MP-0001-0004
Murray, Jeffrey Robert (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
PC-MP-0001-9000
Nelson, Mellie H. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
PC-MP-0001-0001 | PC-MP-0001-0003 | PC-MP-0001-0004
Reno, Janet (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
PC-MP-0001-0003
Rosenbaum, Steven H. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
PC-MP-0001-0001 | PC-MP-0001-0003 | PC-MP-0001-0004 | PC-MP-0001-0006
Schwab, Mikel W (Guam) show/hide docs
PC-MP-0001-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Ambrose, Michael (Northern Mariana Islands) show/hide docs
PC-MP-0001-0004
Buckingham, Edward T (Northern Mariana Islands) show/hide docs
PC-MP-0001-9000
Bush, William C. (Northern Mariana Islands) show/hide docs
PC-MP-0001-0001
Kara, Maya (Northern Mariana Islands) show/hide docs
PC-MP-0001-0001 | PC-MP-0001-9000
Sablan, Teresita (Northern Mariana Islands) show/hide docs
PC-MP-0001-9000

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