Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons

To initiate actions for redress in cases involving deprivations of rights of institutionalized persons secured and protected by the Constitution or laws of the United States.

To prevent any government from imposing a substantial burden on the religious exercise of a person residing in or confined
to a publicly operated institution.

To provide equal utilization of any public facility owned or operated by any State or subdivision thereof, without regard to race, religion, or national origin.

To obtain civil relief for certain violent, threatening, obstructive, and destructive conduct intended to injure, intimidate, or interfere with persons seeking to obtain or provide reproductive health services, or interfere with the First Amendment right of religious freedom, or destroy the property of a place of religious worship.

To seek relief to redress a pattern or practice of conduct by law enforcement officers that deprives citizens of the United States of their constitutional rights.

Agency - Department of Justice

The Department of Justice enforces the law and defends the interest of the United States, ensuring public safety against threats foreign and domestic; providing Federal leadership in preventing and controlling crime; seeking just punishment for those guilty of unlawful pursuits; and ensuring fair and impartial administration of justice for all Americans.

Program Accomplishments

Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act (CRIPA): covers public institutions, including prisons, jails, juvenile justice facilities, mental retardation facilities, psychiatric hospitals and nursing homes. From May 1980, when CRIPA was enacted, through May 2008, the Division investigated conditions in over 453 nursing homes, mental health facilities, centers for persons with developmental disabilities, residential schools for children with disabilities, jails, prisons, and juvenile justice facilities. Presently, the Section has open CRIPA investigations and cases involving approximately 200 facilities. Our work regarding over one third of those facilities is in the investigative stage, including 55 new investigations of 88 facilities initiated since January 2004. The Section also has undertaken a nursing home initiative to address constitutional violations in publicly operated nursing homes, and a juvenile justice initiative to protect the federal rights youth confined to juvenile justice facilities. From FY 1998 to date, we have settled over 95 percent of our CRIPA cases. Since FY 2003 alone, the Section conducted over 711 on-site inspections of institutions. In addition, we have resolved many investigations pre-suit because jurisdictions voluntarily corrected the identified problems. In FY 2007 and the three-quarters of FY 2008, CRT conducted over 200 investigatory and compliance tours, and handled CRIPA matters and cases involving over 205 facilities in 32 States, the District of Columbia, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, the Northern Mariana Islands, the Territories of Guam and the Virgin Islands. SPL also continued its investigations of 105 facilities, and monitored the implementation of consent decrees, settlement agreements, memoranda of understanding, and court orders involving over 100 facilities. During FY 2007-08, SPL opened 25 new investigations of 53 facilities, including a country-wide investigation involving 19 juvenile facilities, and obtained ten settlement agreements and issued 18 findings letters. Moreover, the Section continues to participate in a pre-CRIPA case regarding persons with developmental disabilities residing in approximately 200 community-based facilities in the District of Columbia. Police Misconduct: The Section continues to play a major role in promoting law enforcement management policies and practices that foster police integrity through its outreach, technical assistance and enforcement efforts under 42 U.S.C. 14141 and the Safe Streets Act. The Section has open investigations of 10 law enforcement agencies. The subject matter of the investigations usually includes allegations of a pattern or practice of excessive force or discriminatory policing tied to management deficiencies. The investigations are complex, usually requiring the review of voluminous records, extensive interviews, creation and analysis of sophisticated databases, and the use of police practices and other consultants. Investigations also include provision of technical assistance through the continuing identification of deficient policies and management practices and, in some instances, direct technical assistance presentations to agency personnel by our police practices consultants. In six of our seven lawsuits alleging a pattern or practice of police misconduct, consent decrees were negotiated and were lodged simultaneously with our complaints; the seventh lawsuit was ultimately resolved by an out of court settlement. In addition, eight other investigations have resulted in out-of-court settlements including police departments in the District of Columbia, Prince George's County, MD, Detroit, MI, and Villa Rica, GA. The settlements require the adoption and implementation of policies and procedures designed to prevent excessive force, improper searches and seizures, and other misconduct. Finally, during FY 2007 and into FY 2008, we focused our resources onvigorously monitoring the enforcement of its eight existing settlement agreements to ensure timely, compliance with the terms of those agreements. As a result, we successfully and timely terminated our police reform settlements with Mt. Prospect, Illinois (January 2007); Prince George's County, MD (March 2007), and Cincinnati, OH (April 2007), and Cleveland, OH (March 2008). We also expect to successfully conclude our settlement with the District of Columbia's Metropolitan Police Department in June 2008.

Uses and Use Restrictions

The Attorney General is authorized to initiate or intervene in actions for equitable relief on behalf of institutionalized persons residing in pubic institutions wherein a pattern or practice of egregious or flagrant conditions exists.

Such institutions include: facilities for persons who are mentally ill or mentally retarded, nursing homes, prisons, jails, and juvenile detention and correctional facilities.

The Attorney General may bring suit to protect the rights of persons in publicly operated institutions to be allowed to exercise their religion without substantial burdens being imposed by the public entity operating the institution.

The Attorney General may also bring suit and request injunctive relief prohibiting discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, and national origin in the operation of public facilities when he/she "has reasonable cause to believe" that a State of political subdivision in engaged in such discrimination.

The Attorney General is authorized to investigate and, where appropriate, initiate actions for relief from certain violent, threatening, obstructive, and destructive actions intended to injure, intimidate, or interfere with persons seeking reproductive health services, or deny religious freedom, or destruction of property at places of religious worship.

The Attorney General is authorized to investigate patterns or practices of conduct by law enforcement officials which deprive U. S. citizens of their constitutional rights, and may initiate civil actions for relief from such constitutional deprivations.

Eligibility Requirements

Applicant Eligibility

Any person notifying the Attorney General of a pattern on violations of Federal rights of persons confined in a public institution in any State, territory, or Commonwealth of the United States.

Any person notifying the Attorney General of violations of the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act (FACE).

Any person notifying the Attorney General of pattern or practice conduct by law enforcement officers which deprive citizens of the U.S.

of their constitutional rights under Section 14141.

Beneficiary Eligibility

Institutionalized persons confined in public facilities such as prisons, jails, mental health and mental retardation facilities, nursing homes, and juvenile correctional facilities where there is a pattern of unlawful conditions. Any persons in a publicly operated institution not allowed to exercise their religion because of substantial burdens imposed by the public entity operating the institution. Any persons who have been denied access to or the ability to provide clinic reproductive health services, or has been denied religious freedom, or suffered the destruction of property at a place of religious worship. Any persons who, as a part of a pattern or practice of conduct by law enforcement officers, have been deprived of their constitutional rights.


Not applicable.

Aplication and Award Process

Preapplication Coordination


This program is excluded from coverage under E.O.


Application Procedures

Contact the Department of Justice, Civil Rights Divisions, Special Litigation Section, Washington, DC 20530 or any United States Attorney's Office.

Award Procedures

Not applicable.


Not applicable.


Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act, Public Law 96-247, 42 U.S.C. 1997; Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act of 2000, 42 U.S.C. 2000cc-1; Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended, Title III; Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act, 18 U.S.C 248; Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994, Section 210401, 42 U.S.C. 14141; Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act of 1968, 42 U.S.C. 3789d.

Range of Approval/Disapproval Time

Not applicable.


Not applicable.


Not applicable.

Assistance Considerations

Formula and Matching Requirements

Not applicable.

Length and Time Phasing of Assistance

Not applicable.

Post Assistance Requirements


Not applicable.


Not applicable.


Not applicable.

Financial Information

Account Identification



(Salaries and Expenses) FY 07 est $12,656,000; FY 08 est $12,765,000; and FY 09 est 13,426,000.

Range and Average of Financial Assistance

Not applicable.

Regulations, Guidelines, and Literature

28 C.F.R. 0.50, Summary of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 45 C.F.R. Part 84.

Information Contacts

Regional or Local Office


Headquarters Office

Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division, Special Litigation Section, Washington, DC 20530. Telephone: (202) 514-6255. Contact: Office of Public Affairs. Telephone: (Voice) (202) 514-2007; (TDD) (202) 514-1888.

Criteria for Selecting Proposals

Not applicable.

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