University of Michigan Law School
Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse
Title "An Analysis of CRIPA Findings Letters Issued to Jails for Constitutional Violations by the Department of Justice"
Date Apr 15, 2016
Author Jeff Mellow, Bryce E. Peterson & Mijin Kim
Author Institution John Jay College of Criminal Justice
Author Role Faculty
External Link http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s12103-016-9347-5
Abstract Egregious cases of constitutional violations by jails often come to the attention of the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) Civil Rights Division. The Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act (CRIPA 1980) authorizes the DOJ to investigate allegations, file suit, and seek judicial remedies against jails operated by or on behalf of local governments for the unconstitutional conditions or federal statutory rights violations of
individuals in their care.

Investigating the allegations and providing local officials a Findings Letter are the first steps in a CRIPA action and determine what remedial action must be taken to avoid a federal lawsuit. The purpose of this study is to analyze Findings Letters issued by the DOJ under CRIPA between 1993 and 2013 that identify unconstitutional conditions in the safety and care of jail inmates. Specifically, the aim is to identify the scope and nature of violations most likely to draw attention from the DOJ, the violations most frequently committed and if the DOJ’s focus on certain violation types has changed over time. To our knowledge, this is the first study to formally analyze CRIPA jail Findings Letters. The analysis revealed a high incidence of certain constitutional violations, longitudinal trends, and facility characteristics associated with CRIPA action. The article uses the Clearinghouse as a research base for its findings.
Citation Am. J. Crim. Just. (April 2016)


This Resource Relates To
case categoryJail Conditions
case causeCivil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act (CRIPA), 42 U.S.C. § 1997 et seq.

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