In partnership with the Mississippi Center for Justice, the Center took over the management of Morgan v. Sproat in 2003.
Morgan is a class action on behalf of children confined at Oakley Training School in Mississippi; the case was filed by other attorneys in 1975. Although the court in Morgan found constitutional violations in every aspect of Oakley life and ordered the State to make substantial changes, the State never complied.
The Center became involved in the case after a shocking report (PDF) by the U.S. Department of Justice revealed appalling conditions at both of Mississippi's juvenile prisons — Oakley and Columbia Training School.
The report made it clear that the State had made little or no progress since 1977. More than twenty years later, children were still being maced, hog-tied, and shackled to poles; suicidal teens were being stripped and confined in isolation rooms without toilets, light, or ventilation for days on end; and even staff members were too frightened of retaliation to report incidents of child abuse.
After the release of this report, the Center promptly joined forces with the Mississippi Center for Justice to take over as class counsel in Morgan. In that capacity, attorneys have met with over one hundred children confined at Oakley, making a real difference.
Center attorneys have intervened on behalf of numerous children in jeopardy and have forced the State to make many system-wide improvements, including the permanent closure of Oakley's maximum security unit and the implementation of new procedures to ensure proper care for children who are suicidal or developmentally disabled.
Mississippi Center for Justice
04/18/1977: Final judgment for the plaintiff
08/01/2003: Center entered appearance as counsel