Armstrong v. Metropolitan Government of Nashville, 3:87-0262.

Decision Date11 March 2002
Docket NumberNo. 3:87-0262.,No. 3:87-0257.,3:87-0262.,3:87-0257.
Citation196 F.Supp.2d 673
PartiesBobby Wayne ARMSTRONG, et al. v. THE METROPOLITAN GOVERNMENT OF NASHVILLE AND DAVIDSON COUNTY, Davidson County Sheriff's Department, et al.
CourtU.S. District Court — Middle District of Tennessee

Burney R. Davidson, Clifton, TN, pro se.

James Lawrence Charles, Kimberly M. Frayn, Rita M. Roberts-Turner, Metropolitan Legal Department, Nashville, TN, John Lee Kennedy, Metropolitan Legal Department, Nashville, TN, for Sheriff's Department, Davidson County, (Department of), Fate Thomas, Metropolitan Government of Nashville.

MEMORANDUM

HIGGINS, District Judge.

This action was commenced in March 1987 when several inmates and pre-trial detainees of the Metropolitan Government's jails filed suit, alleging that the conditions of their confinement violated their rights under the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution. The matter was subsequently certified as a class action lawsuit, on behalf of every individual who was or would become an inmate of the Metropolitan Government's jails. The history of this case since its inception has been long and arduous. In point of fact, at the time of this Court's intervention, the administration of the Metropolitan Government's jails was in the hands of a brutal and corrupt regime. The history is adequately summarized in the Parties' Joint Proposed Findings of Fact, which are adopted by the Court in their entirety as follows:

1. On April 3, 1989, former United States Magistrate Judge Haynes,1 after an evidentiary hearing that included a tour of the Metropolitan Government's Criminal Justice Center Jail, Workhouse and Hill Building Jail, found that the Plaintiffs had established a substantial likelihood of success on the merits of their constitutional claims that the conditions of confinement in the Metropolitan Government jails violate the Plaintiff's rights under the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution.2 Judge Haynes recommended that this Court grant the Plaintiffs a preliminary injunction in the form of population limitations on the number of prisoners who can be confined in each of the Metropolitan Government's jails and further recommended injunctive relief to address the lack of sanitation, the lack of personal security and the lack of fire safety in the jails.

2. Although the Metropolitan Government initially filed objections to the Report and Recommendations, on October 20, 1989, the Metropolitan Government admitted before this Court that its jails were unconstitutional. On December 13, 1989, an Agreed Order was entered by the Court bifurcating the litigation through the Dalton Roberts v. Tennessee Department of Correction, 887 F.2d 1281 (6th Cir.1989) process. Unconstitutional jail conditions that were solely the responsibility of the Metropolitan Government to correct were addressed through the original Armstrong litigation and a Remedial Plan. Population issues were addressed through the Roberts process. Mr. Allen Breed was appointed as the Special Master for correcting the unconstitutional conditions within the jails and he was also appointed as the Consultant for Local Corrections to address the population issues.

3. On July 25, 1990, the Court, upon the recommendation of the Consultant for Local Corrections, ordered population caps for the Metropolitan Government's detention facilities and set a timetable for the Tennessee Department of Correction to remove its convicted felons from the Metropolitan Government's facilities. (Order, Docket No. 81)

4. On April 30, 1991 the Court adopted and approved the Remedial Plan that addressed the constitutional violations in the Metropolitan jails that existed in the areas of personal safety, classification, recreation, programming, sanitation, fire safety and access to the courts. (Docket No. 247)

5. On June 3, 1993 the parties submitted Joint Proposed Findings of Fact to the Special Master in accordance with this Court's Order of April 12, 1993. In the Joint Findings of Fact the parties agreed that the Metropolitan jails were no longer unconstitutional and had met the requirements of the Remedial Plan. [Appendix A, Special Master's Fourth Progress Report Concerning Defendants' Compliance With the Remedial Plan (Docket No. 336)]

6. On November 17, 1993, the Special Master's Fourth Progress Report Concerning Defendants' Compliance with the Remedial Plan (Docket No. 336) confirmed that the Metropolitan Government had corrected all unconstitutional conditions in its jails.

7. On December 3, 1993, both Defendants' counsel, Plaintiffs' counsel and the Special Master stated in response to the Court's questioning during the Status Hearing that the Metropolitan Government's detention facilities were now being operated in a constitutional manner.

8. On May 18, 1995, the parties agreed that the litigation should end if the Metropolitan Government could demonstrate its ability to control overcrowding in its jails. (Order, Docket No. 361). The Metropolitan Government was to notify plaintiffs' counsel and the Court when it had:

a. Developed a data processing jail information system that integrates the necessary criminal court records with police arrest records and is capable of objectively ranking inmates in order that scarce jail space may be allocated accordingly;

b. Amended its existing contract with the Tennessee Department of Correction to authorize construction of additional cells for felons sentenced locally to Davidson County;

c. Substantially completed the construction of a new misdemeanor jail containing at least 400 beds. The date of substantial completion of the new jail shall be the date that the Metropolitan Government's architect certifies that the construction is sufficiently complete that inmates may be incarcerated in the new jail.

9. On February 9, 1997, the Metropolitan Government open[ed] its new 600 bed misdemeanor facility, the Correctional Work Center (CWC), located directly across from its existing Metropolitan Davidson County Detention Facility [(MDCDF) managed by Corrections Corporation of America] on the old DeBerry site off Harding Road in Antioch.

10. The Metropolitan Government's Criminal Justice Information System (CJIS) now integrates criminal court records with police arrest records and Sheriff records. One of the CJIS reports, the emergency release report, ranks inmates in order that scarce jail space may be allocated in accordance with the criteria programmed in the event that the jails become overcrowded.

11. On August 27, 1999, the Metropolitan Government exceeded the population capacity limits for seven consecutive days, the only time it has done so in the eleven (11) years it has been under the Court's injunction. The inmate population was quickly brought back within limits and has remained within limits for the last two years.

12. On November 1, 1999, the Metropolitan Government hired Don Stoughton and Associates to act as criminal justice consultants and technical advisors to the Metropolitan Government's Criminal Justice Policy Group.

13. The Criminal Justice Policy Group is chaired by the Metropolitan Mayor and its other members include the Sheriff, Chief of Police, District Attorney, Public Defender, Presiding Judge of the General Sessions Court and the Presiding Judge of the Criminal Court. The Director of Law and the Criminal Justice Coordinator are staff support to the Criminal Justice Policy Group. This task force meets at least once a month to address criminal justice system issues. The mission of the Criminal Justice Policy Group is to carry out the Metropolitan Government's Final Jail Management Plan.

14. On December 1, 1999, pursuant to this Court's directive during the Status Conference held on October 14, 1999, Plaintiffs' counsel inspected the Metropolitan Government's Hill Building Complex Jail and the Criminal Justice Center and filed her Report with the Court.

15. On April 7, 2000, the Metropolitan Government filed the Metropolitan Government's Final Jail Management Plan with the Court.

16. On October 17, 2000, the Metropolitan Council authorized funding to provide an additional courtroom for a new criminal court. The Tennessee Judicial Weighted Case Load Study of May 1999 had confirmed Davidson County's need for another criminal court. The Judicial Council for the State of Tennessee, pursuant to T.C.A. § 16-21-107, met on November 28, 2000, and recommended passage of an amendment to T.C.A. § 16-2-506(20) that would create the additional court. Although both judiciary committees of the Tennessee General Assembly approved the proposed legislation to create a new criminal court in Davidson County, ultimately the funds were not appropriated. The new criminal court is needed.

17. On November 14, 2000, the State of Tennessee agreed to fund over $2,500,000 for the Metropolitan Government to employ consulting services to prepare bid specifications, including physical design and programming specification, for the construction and operation of additional correctional capacity at the old DeBerry site in Antioch, Tennessee.

18. With passage of the Metropolitan Government's new fiscal year budget, the Metropolitan Government created and funded the new Office of Capital Projects within the Finance Department. This office coordinates all capital project expenditures. Through this new office Don Stoughton and Associates have been hired to conduct the needs assessment and predesign planning for adding additional cell capacity at the old DeBerry site. Stoughton and Associates subcontracted The Institute of Crime, Justice and...

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2 books & journal articles
  • Standards.
    • United States
    • Corrections Caselaw Quarterly No. 24, November 2002
    • November 1, 2002
    ...Standards U.S. District Court Armstrong v. Metropolitan Government of Nashville, 196 F.Supp.2d 673 (M.D.Tenn. 2002). PROFESSIONAL Inmates and pretrial detainees brought a class STANDARDS action against a metropolitan government in 1987, alleging that overcrowding in jails was ACCREDITATION ......
  • Liability.
    • United States
    • Corrections Caselaw Quarterly No. 24, November 2002
    • November 1, 2002
    ...Liability U.S. District Court Armstrong v. Metropolitan Government of Nashville, 196 F.Supp.2d 673 (M.D.Tenn. 2002). CONSENT DECREE- Inmates and pretrial detainees brought a class TERMINATION action against a metropolitan government in 1987, alleging that overcrowding in jails was unsanitar......

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