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Criminal Justice Reform

Date Filed

May 12, 2003

Due to a lack of access to doctors and long delays in diagnosis and treatment, seriously ill inmates at one of Alabama's maximum-security prisons sued to receive adequate healthcare.

Children's Rights

Date Filed

August 18, 2013

An Alabama law gave tax breaks to families transferring their children to successful schools, discriminating against impoverished students in the state’s Black Belt region who were trapped in failing schools. The SPLC asked a federal court to permanently block the Alabama Accountability Act, saying the law violated the 14th Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause because it impermissibly created two classes of students assigned to failing schools – those who can escape them because of their parents’ income or where they live and those who cannot.

Immigrant Justice

Date Filed

November 17, 2011

As part of a harsh anti-immigrant law, the Alabama Department of Revenue required people who owned or maintained mobile homes in the state to prove their lawful immigration status before they could pay annual fees for an identification decal required for all mobile homes. The Southern Poverty Law Center and its allies filed a federal class-action lawsuit challenging the immigration check as a violation of the Fair Housing Act that threatened to leave families across the state homeless.

Immigrant Justice

Date Filed

November 16, 2011

Charelle Loder, a U.S. citizen, and “Jack Doe,” an undocumented immigrant from Haiti, had been a couple for five years. When they decided to marry, they could not obtain a marriage license from the Montgomery County Probate Office in Alabama because the office denied licenses to couples unable to prove both partners have legal immigration status. The policy was not required by any federal or state law. The SPLC filed a federal lawsuit challenging the policy.

Criminal Justice Reform

Date Filed

April 08, 2003

Diabetic inmates in Alabama face vision loss, convulsions, and amputations due to substandard care. Others are at risk of heart attacks, nerve damage, strokes, kidney failure, and death. The case has reached a precedent-setting settlement and is currently in a monitoring phase.

Date Filed

October 29, 2001

Under cover of night and without the knowledge of his fellow justices, the Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court installed a 2 1/2-ton Ten Commandments monument in the rotunda of the state judicial building. The Center sued, and the monument was removed from public display; Chief Justice was subsequently removed from office due to ethics violations.

Economic Justice

Date Filed

August 27, 2013

Harriet Cleveland lost her job at a daycare during the height of the recession.  Unable to find steady work, Harriet tried to make ends meet by babysitting the children of friends and family and renting out rooms in her home. After doing everything she could, including pawning her car, Harriet ended up facing foreclosure and declared bankruptcy. During this time she had been unable to pay years old traffic tickets. In August, while babysitting her infant grandson, the Montgomery police came and arrested Harriet at her home. The Montgomery Municipal Court ordered her to serve 31 days in jail.

Immigrant Justice

Date Filed

July 07, 2011

Alabama passed an extreme anti-immigrant law in June 2011. The law threatened to chill children’s access to public schools by requiring school officials to verify the immigration status of children and their parents; authorized police to demand “papers” demonstrating citizenship or immigration status during traffic stops; and criminalized Alabamians for everyday interactions with undocumented individuals. The SPLC led a coalition of civil rights groups in filing a federal class action lawsuit that resulted in an agreement that effectively gutted the law.

Children's Rights

Date Filed

November 30, 2010

Students in Birmingham, Ala., schools were sprayed with pepper spray as punishment for routine offenses. The Southern Poverty Law Center filed a federal lawsuit on behalf of district students to end the practice and other abusive and unconstitutional behavior.

Criminal Justice Reform
Immigrant Justice

Date Filed

February 06, 2013

When Alabama legislators revised the state’s anti-immigrant law in 2012, they passed a law requiring the state to maintain an online list of immigrants who are detained by law enforcement, who appear in court for any violation of state law, and who unable to prove they are not “unlawfully present aliens.” It provided no means for people to be removed from this “black list” if the listing is an error or if their immigration status changes. The Southern Poverty Law Center and its allies filed a federal lawsuit to stop this state-sanctioned “blacklisting” of immigrants, which could encourage harassment and violence.

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