Showing 29 Results
Criminal Justice Reform
Landmark Case

Date Filed

February 25, 1974

Conditions in Alabama's prisons were an inhumane nightmare - violent, overcrowded and unsanitary. In a 1976 landmark ruling, a federal judge declared the prisons "wholly unfit for human habitation" and ordered detailed reforms.

Criminal Justice Reform
Landmark Case

Date Filed

December 31, 1978

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.

Criminal Justice Reform

Date Filed

January 18, 1988

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.

Criminal Justice Reform
Landmark Case

Date Filed

January 14, 1992

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.

Criminal Justice Reform
Landmark Case

Date Filed

May 14, 1995

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."

Criminal Justice Reform

Date Filed

December 11, 1995

In 1995, a prison inmate confined to Alabama's segregation unit filed a pro se complaint to protect his First Amendment rights to receive newspapers and magazines. The ruling lifted a statewide ban against segregated inmates receiving outside reading materials.

Criminal Justice Reform

Date Filed

May 26, 1997

Inside Chess, Harper's, Astronomy, Writer's Digest — only a few of the hundreds of publications effectively banned in 1997 under an arbitrary policy implemented by the Alabama prison's warden. The Center sued, securing an agreement protecting inmates' rights to mailed reading materials.

Criminal Justice Reform

Date Filed

May 12, 1999

The Alabama DOC prohibited its prisoners from receiving gift subscriptions for publications. Inmates were forced to buy subscriptions from their prison trust accounts.

Criminal Justice Reform
Landmark Case

Date Filed

February 20, 2002

When Alabama correctional guards handcuffed Larry Hope to a metal hitching post and left him shirtless, virtually without water, and without bathroom breaks in the Alabama sun for seven hours, they should have known that their actions were unlawful, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 2002.

Criminal Justice Reform

Date Filed

August 12, 2002

The ventilation system on Alabama's death row was broken, resulting in stifling, stagnant, medically dangerous heat in the prisoners' 55-square foot cells. The Center sued to allow inmates to purchase fans at their own expense. An anonymous donor provided free fans to all death row inmates.

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