The ACLU brought a class action suit on behalf of inmates at Montana State Prison following the 1991 riot, challenging numerous areas of mistreatment of inmates at the prison, including lack of medical care, training, rehabilitation programs, work programs, and failure to comply with the American Disabilities Act (ADA). A settlement was reached in 1995, but it required monitoring by experts to assure compliance with the terms of the settlement. By 2005, substantial compliance had been reached on all issues except the prison’s compliance with the ADA. We have been litigating recently how to assess substantial compliance with the ADA as provided in the settlement agreement. The Court appointed an expert to assess the prison’s compliance with the requirements of the ADA. That report has been received by the parties and has formed the basis of ongoing negotiations between the parties. When faced with a lack of progress in these negotiations the ACLU asked the Court to specifically enforce the terms of the settlement agreement. The Court denied this request in 2013 without prejudice but at the same time imposed a period of monitoring on the parties with the unstated hope that continued court supervision would stimulate a resolution of the ADA issues. Negotiations have continued since that time and it is fair to say that many issues have been settled while a large category of issues have not. We are continuing to discuss the outstanding issues with opposing counsel and the Court is monitoring our progress.

Update - 3/2/17

The parties filed a proposed settlement agreement that will bring the prison into greater compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act.  The ACLU National Prison Project, the ACLU of Montana, and the Civil Rights Education and Enforcement Center of Denver, Colorado (CREEC) participated in the final negotiations with the state.  The press release for the settlement can be found here.


Alex Rate, Anna Conley, Elizabeth Griffing, Jennifer Giuttari (ACLU of MT) Eric Balaban (National ACLU Prison Project)

Date filed

November 29, 1994


US District Court for the District of Montana, Helena Division


Leif B Erickson

Case number

CV 93-46-h-LBE

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