The ACLU brought a class action suit on behalf of people incarcerated in Montana State Prison following the 1991 riot. The lawsuit challenged numerous areas of mistreatment of people 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 that 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.

After further litigation, the Court appointed an expert to assess the prison’s compliance with the requirements of the ADA. That report was received by the parties and has formed the basis of ongoing negotiations.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 did impose a period of monitoring on the parties to stimulate a resolution of the ADA issues.

In 2017, he parties entered into a final 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.


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