In 1973, six inmates of the Special Housing Unit at the Clinton Correctional Facility in New York filed a class action lawsuit under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 in the United States District Court for the Northern District of New York against officials of the Department of Corrections. The inmates were ...
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In 1973, six inmates of the Special Housing Unit at the Clinton Correctional Facility in New York filed a class action lawsuit under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 in the United States District Court for the Northern District of New York against officials of the Department of Corrections. The inmates were represented by the Legal Aid Society and Prisoners' Rights Project. The inmates were confined in the Special Housing unit after becoming involved in the 1971 uprising at the state's Attica Correctional facility.
In their complaint the plaintiffs requested declaratory relief relating to four allegations: 1) due process violations stemming from the prison's Adjustment Committee's having failed to provide written notice of disciplinary charges before confining them to the special housing unit; 2) state violations due to the denial of exercise of one hour a day; 3) constitutional rights violations from the imposition of certain strip searches; and 4) due process violations from ineffective access to the courts due to a policy that prohibited special housing unit inmates access to the prison library, that allowed them only two law books a day, and that prohibited them from having legal assistance from the inmates in the segregation unit.
The Court (Judge James T. Foley) 1) dismissed the claim of lack of due process in the disciplinary procedures for failure to prove any federal constitutional deprivations or violations; 2) agreed that the denial of adequate exercise and recreation for prisoners in the special housing unit constituted cruel and unusual punishment and found that an appropriate regulation would be to allow them one hour of exercise outside a day; 3) agreed that certain cavity searches conducted on inmates constituted unreasonable searches and cruel and unusual punishment; and 4) held that inmates in the special housing unit were not denied due process in their limited access to legal books or the library because of the state's interest in temporary segregation for punitive purposes and because the inmates of the unit have equal access to legal services around the state. Frazier v. Ward, 426 F.Supp. 1354 (N.D.N.Y. 1977). A decree was submitted by the plaintiffs' attorneys on the two successful claims.
In 1987 three more plaintiffs' cases were heard on the same claims in the same court. Two of the three plaintiffs had been members of the class of the 1973 action, but had not been notified that their individual claims could be precluded by the class action. The defendants raised several procedural defenses (collateral estoppel, res judicata, Eleventh Amendment immunity) and the Court (Judge Howard G. Munson) found, in general, in favor the plaintiffs on their procedural due process claims against the defendants and were awarded nominal and compensatory damages and attorneys' fees. Morgan v. Ward, 699 F.Supp. 1025 (N.D.N.Y. 1988).
No further information is provided.Rebecca Bloch - 04/19/2006