Better Conditions in Jail

Read the below case study and answer the questions below


Case Study- Who’s Running this Organization Anyway?

The Marion County Jail serves as the detention facility for the county, the City of Indianapolis, and the cities of Beech Grove, Lawrence, Southport, and Speedway, Indiana -a total population of approximately 800,000. The four-story jail, completed in 1965, had an official capacity of 776. Built with security and control as the primary concerns, it was, according to one observer, obsolete before it opened.

Just a few years after the jail opened, it was the subject of a lawsuit that was not fully settled until a new … wing was completed…. Briefly, the events and charges are as follows: In September 1972, a suit was filed by the Legal Services Organization (LSO) on behalf of pretrial detainees at the Marion County Jail, Named as defendants in the suit were the sheriff of the county, the jail commander, the commissioner of the State of Indiana Department of Corrections, the mayor of Indianapolis, and specific members of the Board of County Commissioners. The complaint, brought under Section 1983 of the Civil Rights Act (42 U.S.C. 1983), alleged violations of the pretrial detainees’ rights under the First, Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, Eighth, Ninth, Thirteenth, and Fourteenth Amendments to U.S. Constitution. At issue were overcrowding; [poor] physical and sanitary conditions; failure to classify prisoners for housing assignments, inadequate medical and dental care; and lack of recreation, of contact visits, and of access to telephone and mail services.

Because of crowding, detainees were sometimes required to sleep on the floor in the shower rooms. Although mattresses were provided, mattress covers often were not. Jail issue clothing consisted of dresses for females and trousers for males. The prisoners wore the underwear they had on when admitted. Although they could purchase more underwear, as well as towels and pillows, or receive them from a visitor, indigent prisoners often had to do without. No provision was made to launder clothing or towels. Though these could be washed in cell-block basins, it was against regulations to hangthem up to dry.

All detainees could purchase postage and writing materials. They were allowed to mail only one letter per day containing no more than one piece of paper. Jail officials read all correspondence to and from family and friends. Telephone calls were not permitted except by special arrangement. There was no recreation program or exercise area. Playing cards could be purchased, and there was a meager library. Detainees could exercise only in the open area of the cell block. No televisions or radios were available. There was no regular dental program, no provision for medical examinations, no law library. Visits were “closed”: The detainee visited from inside the cell block looking through a small plexiglass window and talking through a metal grating. Only two visitors were allowed per week. Children were never permitted.

In 1975, a consent decree and partial judgment corrected many of the physical and sanitary problems. New jail rules were formulated and submitted to the court. These covered the sanitizing of mattresses, issuance of jail clothing and provisions for laundering them, improvements in medical and dental care, counseling services, and more liberal correspondence rules. However, many of these were “paper” changes only.

A 1976 court order required attention to all areas left unresolved by the consent decree. The judge ordered that clothing be issued and laundered weekly; that a bed above floor level be provided for each detainee along with sheets, pillow, blanket, and mattress cover. He ordered that telephone calls be permitted “in reasonable number and for a reasonable length of time without censorship,” and that correspondence opportunities be greatly expanded. Contact visiting was ordered with the visitation schedule to be equal to that provided by the state for the convicted. Reasonable facilities for both indoor and outdoor recreation were also ordered. The court recognized that many deficiencies resulted from lack of funds but ordered that appropriations be made in order to correct them.

Defendants’ official response was the appointment of a steering committee, with representatives of the mayor, the county commissioners, and the sheriff as members, to select consultants who would propose solutions. The contract to the consultants was let by the Department of Metropolitan Development, an arm of city government attached to the mayor’s office. The consultants’ report was submitted fourteen months later in June 1977. In January and February 1978, the mayor’s office and the sheriffs office submitted memoranda based on the report to the court advocating certain of the compliance options that particularly addressed the problem of overcrowding. These memoranda were followed by the plaintiffs’ memorandum in opposition to some of the proposed solutions. In August 1978, interrogatories to the sheriff were propounded by attorneys for the plaintiffs and were answered in the required thirty days by the sheriff. There were eighty-seven questions, and it was clear from the responses that no major concerted effort had been made to implement the judgment of the court. Neither the 1977 nor the 1978 sheriff’s budgets had allocated funds for compliance, nor had the sheriff requested special funds. Whatever improvements had been made had come from the jail’s normal operating budget. The 1979 budget request included $12 million for an addition to the jail, but it was denied by the county commissioners.

In 1979, seven years after the suit was initiated, the jail commander sent letters to jail officials throughout the country seeking advice and assistance in achieving compliance. During this year also, the Sheriffs Department assumed command of the city lockup. All prisoners were then booked at the lockup and transient prisoners (held for up to three days) were not transferred to the jail. This had the immediate effect of reducing the population. But on December 28, lawyers for the plaintiffs filed three motions: an order to show cause why defendants should not be held in contempt of court and assessed fines and damages of over $300,000; a motion to appoint a special master to oversee compliance with the order issued three years earlier; and a motion to restrain further incarceration of detainees at the Marion County Jail.

These motions produced immediate action. By January 14, 1980, an Ad Hoc Jail Committee had been appointed that included criminal court judges, city-county councilmen, representatives of the mayor’s office, the sheriffs office, the prosecutor’s office, the auditor’s office, and the Greater Indianapolis Progress Committee (GIPC), a privately funded citizens group advisory to the mayor.

In the court’s stipulation and order of May 1980, the GIPC was appointed jail commission, and two [additional] commissioners were named. The court held in abeyance the show-cause order and the motion to restrain incarceration but ordered further progress toward compliance within six months and recreation, televisions, radios, and private attorney-client conference booths by July 1,1980. Threatened with a contempt-of-court citation, the defendants began to engage seriously in compliance attempts. A new classification system went into effect in March 1980; in July, both contact visits and outdoor exercise were begun; by August, private attorney-client cubicles were in use; and by the end of the summer, there was a television set for each cell block.

The Ad Hoc Jail Committee met regularly throughout the year and ordered an update of the 1977 consultants’ study, which was submitted in December. In December, the City-County Council passed a resolution to undertake a survey of jail renovations and additions. The federal court judge cooperated by accepting improvements and postponing action on the 1979 motions.

In April 1981, expansion of the jail and a necessary bond issue were approved by the City-County Council. Architects’ drawings were approved in June 1982, construction bids were accepted in the fall, and contracts signed in December. Construction began in April 1983. This new addition would bring the jail into full compliance in all areas requiring additional space and structural change. By March 1983, compromises had been made on the larger issues: outdoor recreation was available once per week rather than daily; holding cages had been converted for contact visitation by setting up folding chairs on each side of the bars; cubicles were made available for attorney-client conferences; telephones had been installed in each cell block with sixteen to twenty-four hours of access per day (collect calls only); and a law library was in operation. Compliance was lax in other areas: mattresses were not hygienically treated on a regular basis; clean clothing was not regularly issued; the promised counselors were interns from a nearby university’s school of social work; and often there were not quite enough blankets, pillows, or towels for every inmate.

Case Study question set

From the discussion of conditions in the jail in the above case study, what would you say the goals were? How did those goals change over the course of the suit? How would you describe the role of internal and external constituencies in the saga of this jail case? How would you describe the role of management in the course of this legal action? How effective was it at directing the organization, and what constraints was it under?

Develop and present a response to all of the case study questions. Present your responses in paragraph form i.e. all answers combined and presented in 1 paragraph. Remember to use some research in your answers. 



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