Maxwell v. Haley

Popular Name: 
Death Row Ventilation Case
Case Number: 
02-647-CB-S (Venue changed from 02-CV-938 Middle District of Alabama)
Court where filed: 
USDC Southern District of Alabama
Date Filed: 
Michael Maxwell, class of inmates on death row at the Holman Correctional Facility
Alabama Department of Corrections Commissioner Michael Haley, Warden Grantt Culliver
Case Related Items 

Torturous heat on death row
Desperate for relief from the blistering unrelenting heat, some inmates put their heads and feet in the toilet to feel the cool water. Instead of sleeping on the beds, some slept on the concrete floor to feel cooler.

In the summer of 2002, the ventilation system on Alabama's death row was broken and there was no air in their 55-square foot cells, only stifling, stagnant heat. A 1995 policy prohibited prisoners on death row from purchasing fans to cool their dangerously hot cells. Conditions were dangerously hot for the 170 men; many exhibited signs of heat exhaustion.

The Center filed suit, asking simply that the inmates be allowed to purchase fans at their own expense. At first, the Departments of Corrections refused to agree. Finally, in July 2003, the Department of Corrections agreed to allow each of the 170 inmates on death row to receive a small fan that was purchased for them by an anonymous donor.


Date(s) of Disposition: 
10/28/2002: Motion for preliminary injunction denied 12/03/2002: Litigation stayed pending renovations