Spellman v. Hopper

Popular Name: 
Administrative Segregations Case
Case Number: 
Court where filed: 
USDC Middle District of Alabama
Date Filed: 
John Spellman
Commissioner of Alabama Department of Corrections

Defending prisoners' First Amendment rights
Prison inmate John Spellman was confined to administrative segregation in an Alabama prison. Alone in a single cell, he and others remained separated from the general prison population 23 hours a day.

With no access to television, educational programs, leisure activities, or work opportunities, the only activities available to segregated inmates were reading and writing.

A statewide policy prohibited inmates in administrative segregation from receiving subscription magazines and newspapers. Spellman's magazines and books were confiscated and destroyed as contraband.

Spellman filed a pro se complaint in federal court in 1995. The Center later took on the precedent-setting case and won a declaratory judgment in Spellman's favor.

The District Court ruled that the Department of Corrections' policy violated the inmates' First Amendment rights and ordered that it not be implemented further.


Date(s) of Disposition: 

10/01/1999: Judgment for the plaintiff (95 F.Supp.2d 1267)
03/20/2000: Magistrate Judge recommended declaratory judgment for the plaintiff
04/20/2000: Declaratory judgment for the plaintiff and Magistrate's recommendations adopted (140 F.Supp.2d 1264) and (142 F.Supp.2d 1323)