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ADAMS v. CARLSON
January 15, 1973
EDDIE ADAMS ET AL., PLAINTIFFS,
NORMAN CARLSON, DIRECTOR, FEDERAL BUREAU OF PRISONS, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Foreman, District Judge:
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
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.
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
The Court will consider each of the four issues separately
and will set forth the relevant facts with the discussion of
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
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
On October 14, 1972, inmates refused to surrender their
plastic food trays and eating utensils. These, when broken,
can be made into dangerous weapons. The following day a search
of the cells was conducted. Three inmates of the segregation
unit, including a named plaintiff, Eddie Adams, refused to
submit to handcuffing prior to removal
from their cells. Apparently all but Adams eventually
submitted to handcuffing. There was testimony from a fellow
inmate that Adams became "paranoid" and refused to be
hancuffed. Threats were made against the prison officers. Mace
was used on Adams, and a number of men, from five to eight,
went into Adams cell to attempt to subdue him without beating,
but rather by overwhelming him. Adams made an indication of
rushing or attacking the officers, and in the process of being
subdued, he received a swollen eye, and a number of
superficial abrasions, bruises, and scratches. The extent of
the injuries was attested to by a medical doctor who examined
him the next morning. No medical doctor was present at the
time of the disturbance, however, a physician's assistant was,
and he examined Adams at that time and determined that his
injuries were not severe enough to require hospitalization.
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 ...