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ADAMS v. CARLSON

January 15, 1973

EDDIE ADAMS ET AL., PLAINTIFFS,
v.
NORMAN CARLSON, DIRECTOR, FEDERAL BUREAU OF PRISONS, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Foreman, District Judge:

    MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

The matter before the court is plaintiffs' Motion for a Preliminary Injunction. The four named plaintiffs are inmates of a segregation unit at the Federal Penitentiary at Marion, Illinois, and they filed this suit as a class action on behalf of all prisoners confined in segregation since on or about July 23, 1972. The defendants are the Director of the Federal Bureau of Prisons, and the Warden, an associate warden, and a correctional officer of the Federal Penitentiary at Marion. I have permitted this matter to be treated as a class action for purposes of the hearing on the Motion for a Preliminary Injunction.

Plaintiffs seek an order of this court for a preliminary injunction barring defendants from:

a) Denying plaintiffs adequate food, clothing, medical care, exercise, showers, and other basic necessities of life.

b) Gassing, suffocating or imposing any other physical or mental abuse upon plaintiffs.

c) Confiscating and destroying plaintiffs personal belongings including legal papers, briefs and correspondence.

d) Denying plaintiffs reasonable access to their attorneys.

e) Placing plaintiffs into indefinite punitive segregation without providing hearings with full due process safeguards.

f) Denying plaintiffs their constitutional right to exercise freedom of religion and speech.

Essentially four issues are raised by plaintiffs' motion: (1) Cruel and unusual punishment; (2) Access to Courts; (3) Procedural due process; and (4) The First Amendment rights of freedom of speech and religion.

A two-day hearing on the motion was held and counsel for plaintiffs and defendants have agreed that previous testimony taken at a hearing on a Motion for a Temporary Restraining Order should be considered by the court on the present motion. Both plaintiffs and defendants have submitted affidavits for the court's consideration. The facts pertinent to each issue will be set forth along with the discussion of the respective issues. However, at the outset it should be noted that the actions for which plaintiffs seek redress occurred after they were placed in segregation as a disciplinary measure after they engaged in or instigated a work stoppage in violation of prison rules on July 17, 1972. There was a major disruption of prison life and the officials were, in effect, faced with an outright mutiny. Prompt and effective action to deal with an unusual situation was required to restore the prison to normalcy.

On November 21, 1972 Judge Henry S. Wise, Chief Judge for the Eastern District of Illinois, ordered that the cases of Ben F. Daughtery v. G.W. Pickett, et al, Civil No. 72-180-D; Joe Charles Nix v. G. W. Pickett, et al, Civil No. 72-229-D; Edd Johnson v. George W. Pickett, et al, Civil No. 72-230-D be consolidated with this matter. On November 22, 1972 Judge Wise ordered James L. Potts v. Norman A. Carlson, et al, Civil No. 72-231-D consolidated with this cause. It appearing that no new issues are raised in these consolidated cases and to the extent that the issues and parties are properly consolidated, the finding and conclusion herein made and the orders entered shall be applicable and binding upon the parties in the above named cases.

The Court will consider each of the four issues separately and will set forth the relevant facts with the discussion of each issue.

I. CRUEL AND UNUSUAL PUNISHMENT

Statements made in plaintiffs' complaint and motion for a preliminary injunction and comments and arguments made to this Court by counsel for plaintiffs would lead the Court to believe that the prison officials at the United States Penitentiary at Marion, Illinois arbitrarily, without cause, and on several occasions engaged in a course of conduct designed to harass, intimidate, injure and humiliate the inmates. Counsel for plaintiffs failed to note in their pleadings the nature of the situation and the atmosphere at the prison at the time of and since the work stoppage of July 17, 1972, as indicated by the testimony.

Plaintiffs argue that cruel and unusual punishment was inflicted upon them in that they were denied adequate food, clothing, medical care, exercise, showers and other basic necessities of life, in that they were gassed and suffocated, and in that the punishment inflicted, confinement in segregation, is so disproportionate to the alleged offense committed that it violated substantive due process. On the basis of the testimony given and the exhibits and evidence introduced, I make the following finding of facts.

The United States Penitentiary at Marion, Illinois, is the maximum security facility in the Federal Prison system. Some inmates are transferred to Marion from other federal institutions for security reasons and because of the facilities available there. In addition, from time to time, inmates are removed from the general population and placed in the segregation units and are so placed for disciplinary reasons because they have violated prison rules or regulations or have manifested behavior that jeopardizes their own safety or the well being of other inmates or the staff, or create a hazard to institutional security.

It is a prison rule that all able-bodied inmates must work and to refuse to do so is a violation of the rules which subjects the violator to discipline. On July 17, 1972, a general work stoppage occurred. The prison administration decided to keep all prisoners in their cells until the instigators could be determined, rather than force the prisoners who were willing to work to choose between defying the prison rules and defying the instigators of the work stoppage. On July 24, 1972, seven of the allegedly most prominent instigators of the work stoppage were placed in segregation and ten other inmates insisted on accompanying their friends in segregation. The following morning most of the inmates returned to work, although there was some reluctance, and many inmates were checking with others to see if they should work. On the afternoon of July 25, a disturbance in the hallways occurred preventing the men from returning to work, and the instigators of this work stoppage were placed in segregation. In all approximately 103 men were placed in segregation as a result of their participation in the work stoppages.

On August 17, or in the early morning hours of August 18, a fire and general disturbance occurred in the segregation unit. The fire had apparently been started by inmates who burned their mattresses and threw them out of their cells and into the hallway. A lot of noise and shouting emanated from the unit and it was apparent a major disturbance was in progress. The prison officials who were involved in quieting the disturbance first obtained their riot gear. Upon arriving at the segregation units, they found the air smoke filled and found flooding of some cells and hallways. The flooding was caused by inmates who stopped up their toilets and sinks and flushed or turned on the water. The water supply to the cells was turned off to stop the flooding and the fires were quenched. Thereafter each inmate was informed that he was to strip his clothing, place his hands through the opening in the cell door to be handcuffed, and he would be removed from his cell so that the guards could strip his cell of the accumulation of property which could constitute a fire and security hazard. Order was restored without the use of gas or other physical force, and the men were returned to their cells. Associate Warden Fenton ordered that clothing be returned to the inmates, and apparently clothing was returned later that morning. Also later in the day or on the night of August 18, mattresses were returned to the inmates. Some inmates retrieved personal possessions from the hallway by use of fishlines or ropes made from clothing.

In the early morning hours of August 19, 1972, inmates of D-Range of segregation unit H threw their mattresses out into the hallway as a protest because they thought inmates in other ranges might not have mattresses. Again a general disturbance ensued and prison guards and officials came in riot gear to quell the disturbance. Each man was told to strip and submit to handcuffing prior to removal from his cell. Several men continued to shout, created a disturbance and refused to cooperate. Threats against staff were made and light fixtures and fluorescent tubes had been broken for possible use as weapons. Tear gas was used against several men to subdue them.

Some clothing was returned to the inmates immediately after it had been thoroughly searched for contraband and weapons. The weather at the time was hot and there is no evidence that anyone became ill or suffered physically because of the deprivation of clothing during the time of the search on either day. Many of the inmates had some of their other personal belongings returned to them, but most of the books and papers which they had accumulated in their cells and which could be considered as contraband and a threat to prison security and safety because of the fire hazard were removed from the segregation unit and stored elsewhere. Mattresses were not immediately furnished to cell inmates in segregation because many had been damaged or destroyed by the inmates during the events of August 18 and 19 and some time was required to replace them. Associate Warden Fenton testified that all inmates had mattresses no later than August 26 or 27.

Dr. David L. Schwartz, the Chief Health Officer at the Marion Prison, testified that he was at the prison in the early morning of August 19, 1972, in response to a call that there was a disturbance in the segregation units. He went to segregation in case anyone should be injured during the disturbance, however, there were no injuries. He further testified that he visits the segregation unit routinely at least weekly.

On October 16, 1972, another search for weapons was conducted and a loaded percussion type gun made from a towel rack, toothbrush, nail, and lead was found in a light fixture in a cell in the segregation unit.

Since being subdued on October 15, 1972, Adams has complained of dizziness, blackouts and pain or sensitivity in the lower back area. Numerous x-rays have been taken of Adams and other objective tests administered. The tests were completely inconsistent with the complaints and ...


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