In 1995, Alabama corrections officials brought back the barbarity of chain gangs. The Center sued, claiming that chaining men in groups of five and putting them on busy highways was cruel and dangerous. The lawsuit put an end to the Alabama chain gang and another torturous practice called the "hitching post."
Fearful that his white supremacist group would be sued over the murder of a black sailor, the leader of the Church of the Creator sold the group's property to the late neo-Nazi leader William Pierce. The Center sued and obtained a $1 million judgment against the COTC and a $85,000 judgment against Pierce.
Indigent dialysis patients face terrible dilemmas, such as being forced to decide whether to buy food or get transportation to medical care. In 1994, the Center filed a suit obtaining medically necessary transportation for Medicaid recipients in need. Although the case was ultimately lost on appeal, Alabama Medicaid recipients currently receive state-funded transportation due to the Center's lawsuit.
For killing an African-American Gulf War veteran, a white supremacist "reverend" received an award of honor from the leaders of the racist Church of the Creator (COTC). In the wake of this horrible crime, the Center sued the COTC for inciting violence against African-Americans.
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.
In 1988, only 11 of Alabama's 223 trial judges were black. The Center sued to end a system denying racial minorities the chance to elect judicial candidates of their choice. The federal district court disagreed, upholding a voting system found unfair in other states.
On Christmas Day 1987, Loyal Garner, a black man who had never been in trouble with the law, was beaten to death in an East Texas jail after being arrested on a traffic charge. After a state court jury acquitted the three implicated in the killing, the SPLC won financial security for Garner’s widow and six children in a federal civil rights action. Evidence uncovered by SPLC investigators led to the subsequent criminal conviction of the three lawmen.