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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
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
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.

Hate & Extremism
Landmark Case

Date Filed

November 02, 1980

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.

Landmark Case

Date Filed

September 20, 1976

In this landmark sex discrimination case, two Alabama women applied for jobs traditionally reserved for men. One sought to become a state trooper, the other a correctional officer; both were rejected. The Supreme Court's landmark decision in favor of the women opened doors nationwide for women to be hired in law enforcement careers.

Children's Rights
Landmark Case

Date Filed

September 07, 1971

In the early 1970s, several private segregated academies were allowed to use public recreational facilities in Montgomery, Ala., for football and baseball games – a practice that meant taxpayers were subsidizing these all-white schools as the public school system was being integrated. The Southern Poverty Law Center filed a federal lawsuit that resulted in the U.S. Supreme Court finding the city’s practice unconstitutional.

Economic Justice
Landmark Case

Date Filed

November 01, 1994

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.

Hate & Extremism
Landmark Case

Date Filed

November 30, 1992

For some it's a symbol of oppression; for others, a symbol of pride. The Confederate battle flag had flown over the Alabama state capitol since 1963, until a lawsuit by the Center forced it down.

Landmark Case

Date Filed

January 02, 1972

As late as 1972, there was not a single African American Alabama state trooper in a state that is one-quarter black. African Americans were refused jobs as troopers, but were easily hired as janitors. The SPLC filed suit, challenging the state's blatant racial discrimination.

Children's Rights
Landmark Case

Date Filed

October 12, 1998

An African-American teenager was denied school enrollment simply because she was homeless. The Center immediately sued, and "Penny Doe" was soon enrolled in school. The case was settled with officials adopting policies to ensure compliance with federal law.

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