Two inmates of the Texas Department of Corrections (TDC) filed a pro se lawsuit in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas on October 17, 1972, under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and 28 U.S.C. § 1343, alleging race discrimination and unfair segregation practices. On November 6, 197 ...
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Two inmates of the Texas Department of Corrections (TDC) filed a pro se lawsuit in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas on October 17, 1972, under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and 28 U.S.C. § 1343, alleging race discrimination and unfair segregation practices. On November 6, 1972, eight Spanish-speaking inmates moved to intervene, and the District Court granted their request on January 6, 1973. The United States Attorney General certified the case to be of general public importance pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 2000h-2 (part of the Civil Rights Act of 1964), and the United States' motion to intervene was granted on July 6, 1973. Thereafter, eight other inmates' requests to intervene were granted.
The Court certified the case as a class action, consisting of all past, present, and future inmates of TDC. The plaintiffs alleged racial or ethnic discrimination, particularly in assignment to various prison units, living quarters, work squads; in disciplinary procedures; in selection for educational programs; in providing medical care, protection from harm in the prison units, recreational facilities, dining, showering, and other group activities; and in the use of racial and ethnic slurs by the staff. The United States, as intervenor, sought to enjoin TDC from assigning inmates to cells based on race, color, religion, or national origin; from segregating the prison facilities; from failing to implement a standard of prisoner classification not related to race; and from failing to correct and erase the effects of past discriminatory practices.
The parties entered into a consent decree, which the court approved on April 12, 1977. The decree stated that the TDC should implement an affirmative action plan, designed to prevent the use of ethnicity and race for inmate housing assignments, job assignments, discipline, education, medical care, recreational activities. Additionally, the TDC was to take measures to assure its staff did not use racial epithets and did not punish inmates for speaking Spanish.
Over the years, a series of hearings were held about compliance and modification. The court discontinued the state's duty to make routine reports of in-cell integration. In 1996, inmates who did not wish to share cells with inmates of another race sought to intervene in the case and modify the decree. The United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas (Judge Lynn Nettleton Hughes) declined to allow these plaintiffs to intervene. Lamar v. Coffield, 951 F. Supp. 629 (S.D.Tex. 1996).
On April 8, 2008 the consent decree was terminated. An emergency motion to implement a filed permanent injunction/temporary restraining order was later denied.David Terry - 04/10/2006
Tania Morris Diaz - 10/31/2014