Mental health experts described the conditions for Alabama's seriously mentally ill prisoners as "horrific" and "primitive." Mentally ill inmates were locked in isolation, usually without proper medication, and deprived of professional mental health services such as therapy and counseling. The Center sued and secured change for the inmates.
In 1988, racist Skinheads beat an Ethiopian graduate student to death with a baseball bat. Mulugeta Seraw was murdered by recruits of neo-Nazi leader Tom Metzger, founder of White Aryan Resistance (WAR), who faced a Center civil suit and a $12.5 million judgment.
Concerned about inappropriate services and mental health treatment provided to children placed in Alabama foster care, the Center joined with mental health lawyers and sued in 1988, forcing drastic changes in the ways these cases are handled.
"Black and white together" is one of verses of the famous civil rights hymn, "We Shall Overcome." But when blacks and whites marched together in all-white Forsyth County, Georgia, in 1987, they were greeted with Klansmen throwing rocks and shouting racial slurs.
On March 20, 1981, members of the United Klans of America abducted a young African-American man at random, put a noose around his neck, beat him, cut his throat and hung his body from a tree. The Center sued the Klansmen and won an historic $7 million judgment.
For years, unmined coal in Kentucky was virtually exempt from taxation, leaving Kentucky's public schools and other services grossly underfunded. Fair tax advocates worked with the Center to file suit challenging Kentucky's unfair tax system, resulting in improved regulations.
Armed men in Klan robes spewed hate-filled threats, burned crosses and destroyed shrimp boats. White fishermen, fearful of competition from Vietnamese immigrants, invited the Klan to Galveston Bay, Texas. The Center sued and brought an end to their illegal activities, including paramilitary training camps.
In 1979, over 100 Klan members attacked Decatur, Alabama marchers protesting the conviction of Tommy Lee Hines, a retarded black man accused of rape. After a ten-year fight, the Center secured criminal convictions and financial compensation for the victims.
Cotton mill workers contracted brown lung, or byssinosis, by inhaling tiny dust particles on a daily basis as they went about their work. The Center sued, achieving a breakthrough financial settlement and regulations to protect the health and safety of cotton mill workers.
The United States Supreme Court struck down Alabama's "kill 'em or let 'em go" death penalty statute in a landmark decision that reversed the Alabama State Supreme Court and vacated the death sentences of plaintiff Gilbert Beck and 10 other men on death row.