The opinion of the court was delivered by: Getzendanner, District Judge.
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
At issue in this litigation is the constitutional sufficiency
of the mental health care treatment offered inmates at Illinois'
Stateville Correctional Center. The plaintiffs are seven
prisoners who claim to have been denied needed therapy. They seek
to represent all others similarly situated. The defendants are:
Michael Lane, Acting Director of the Illinois Department of
Corrections; Gayle Franzen, Lane's predecessor; William Craine,
Deputy Director for Program Services, Illinois Department of
Corrections; Richard DeRobertis, Chief Administrative Officer
(Warden) at Stateville; Marvin Reed, DeRobertis' predecessor;
Michael O'Leary, Assistant Warden for Program Services at
Stateville; Phillip Elliott, Acting Medical Unit Administrator at
Stateville; Dr. Meyer Kruglik, Stateville psychiatrist; and
Muhammad Irfan, a psychologist at Stateville. The gist of the
complaint is that the care provided by the defendants has been so
lacking that plaintiffs have been subjected to "cruel and
unusual" punishment within the meaning of the Eighth
Amendment.*fn1 For relief, the plaintiffs demand that the court
declare the existence of constitutional violation. See 28 U.S.C. § 2201.
They further seek structural relief in the form of a
mandatory injunction ordering the defendants to upgrade
Stateville's mental health care program in numerous ways. The
named plaintiffs in addition each seek $20,000 in damages from
defendants Lane, Franzen, Craine, DeRobertis, Reed and O'Leary.
Currently pending are three issues — the applicability of
the doctrine of abstention*fn2, the legal sufficiency of the
complaint's averments, and the appropriateness of class action
treatment. For the reasons to follow, I hold that abstention
is inappropriate, that the complaint states a claim, and that a
class should be certified.
Plaintiffs' factual allegations are of two sorts. First there
are general claims which provide an overview of mental health
care treatment at Stateville. In addition, case histories of the
individual named defendants are spelled out in some detail.
Plaintiffs' assertions essentially boil down to the following
accusation: "No [mental health] services are available at
Stateville except such service as may be rendered by the
administration of behavior-controlling psychotropic drugs,
including large doses of an admixture of anti-psychotic drugs."
Amended Complaint, ¶ 19(J). From the face of the complaint it
appears that this state of affairs results primarily from a
severe shortage of correctional personnel qualified to assist in
mental health rehabilitation.*fn3 Though Stateville houses
approximately 2200 inmates, only one part-time psychiatrist, Dr.
Kruglik, is there employed. Psychologist Irfan is of course also
available, but he has never — at least in Illinois — been
certified to practice in the "free," i.e., outside, world. His
competency is thus somewhat suspect. The same is true of
Stateville's "counselors," none of whom has received any
formalized training — clinical or academic — in mental health
care matters. Security personnel are similarly untrained.
Stateville's ability to cope with inmate mental health problems
is therefore limited. As could be expected, preventive treatment
is nonexistent. Inmate medical records are not systematically
reviewed. Inmates rather must actively seek out help. They can do
this by requesting an interview with either Dr. Kruglik or Irfan.
These defendants, however, have complete discretion in deciding
whether or not to grant such a request, and usually refuse to see
the petitioning prisoner. Most would-be patients consequently
never receive any treatment at all. Even when an inmate becomes
so disturbed that he is destructive of self or others, the inmate
in most cases is simply transferred to the "Special Evaluation
Unit" (SEU). There he is "frequently required to sit or lie nude
on the stone floor of his cell, separated from all human contact
by [a] virtually soundproof cell door, for protracted periods of
time." Amended Complaint, ¶ 12(I). No routinized policy for
treating inmates there confined exists for the Special Evaluation
Unit is not housed within the Stateville Medical Unit and is not
staffed with employees who have been trained in mental health
Further, even when an inmate engages the attention of either
Dr. Kruglik or Irfan, the inmate receives at best cursory
treatment consisting primarily, as noted before, of
pharmacological prescriptions. What is perhaps most distressing
is that this "treatment" not only fails to help most inmates, but
in addition affirmatively hurts some as well by rendering the
"treated" inmate an addict of the prescribed drug. Compounding
this problem in turn is the fact that Dr. Kruglik and Irfan often
simply deny suspected addicts further medication and do not
thereafter provide any treatment whatsoever for either the
addiction itself or the underlying mental illness.*fn4
One final category of prisoners remains, those in protective
custody. Inmates housed there are those who have been attacked or
threatened by other prisoners. They too receive only drugs and
"haphazard diagnosis." Not even short-term crisis counseling is
provided for an inmate whose life has recently been threatened.
Robert E.*fn5 is a twenty-three year old male who has been
shuttled between Illinois prisons and mental health hospitals
since 1976. He arrived at Stateville in September, 1979,
accompanied by a master record file containing a previous
diagnosis of paranoid schizophrenia. Shortly thereafter he
received death threats from several inmates, causing him to
suffer an acute psychotic breakdown marked by auditory
hallucinations. He was moved to the SEU where Dr. Kruglik
interviewed him once for less than five minutes, telling
plaintiff that he did not need medication or psychotherapy, but
rather needed only to learn to calm himself down. From the SEU
Robert E. was moved to protective custody and then to
disciplinary segregation. While in disciplinary Robert E. set
fire to his mattress in a suicide attempt. A short talk with
defendant Irfan followed, after which plaintiff was retransferred
to the SEU for "control and observation." Two suicide attempts
later he was again placed in disciplinary where he will reside
until 1985.*fn6 During this entire series of events plaintiff
made numerous unheeded calls for psychiatric aid.
William B. is a thirty-six year old male who entered Stateville
in 1979. Soon after his arrival he learned that his life was in
danger due to the fact that his trial testimony had implicated a
member of a gang prominently represented at Stateville. An acute
anxiety attack set in and plaintiff was transferred at his own
request into protective custody. There his attacks have become
progressively so severe that only compulsive masturbation can
reduce in any way his "overwhelming sense of terror." Amended
Complaint, ¶ 21(D). He has been interviewed by Dr. Kruglik, but
only once and for less than five minutes. Defendant Irfan has
similarly seen plaintiff once, telling William B. only that
compulsive masturbation by prisoners is normal. In addition, an
unidentified staff physician once prescribed tranquilizers for
three days. Despite these visits, plaintiff's anxiety attacks
have not subsided in the least. In addition, he has recently
developed a nervous tic in his face and a stammer in his speech.
His thought processes are increasingly slowed and confused.
Larry K. is twenty-one and entered Stateville in December 1980
upon transfer from the Menard Psychiatric Center. Participation
in a racial fight at Menard caused both this shift and his being
sentenced to four-and-one-half years of disciplinary segregation
at Stateville. There he alleges he has received absolutely no
mental health therapy despite the fact that his master record
contains previous diagnoses of paranoid schizophrenia. Instead a
staff physician informed Larry K. in January 1981 that he suffers
from epilepsy. Plaintiff, however, has never experienced a
seizure and claims that this diagnosis was made solely to justify
the involuntary injection of behavior-controlling drugs. The
dosages he has subsequently received have been so great that they
have caused him to be mentally confused, slurred in his speech
and uncoordinated in general.
Hakim A-B is thirty-eight and suffered a nervous breakdown
prior to entering Stateville. His breakdown occurred at the
Pontiac Correctional Center following a threat on his life by
fellow inmates who were angered by the assistance plaintiff had
given Pontiac officials in various matters. Upon arrival at
Stateville in February 1980, he was immediately placed in
protective custody. From there he made numerous requests for
psychiatric counseling. Neither Dr. Kruglik nor Irfan ever
responded. The anxiety plaintiff felt became so intense that he
voluntarily returned in January 1981 to the prison's general
population so as to be eligible for Stateville's educational,
recreational and rehabilitative programs. Though he now lives
there in constant fear for his life, defendants have yet to
provide him with any therapy whatsoever.
Twenty-two year old Derrick S. entered Stateville on December
11, 1980 and was placed in disciplinary segregation with a
cellmate of known violent propensities. During the next five days
plaintiff's cellmate raped him three times at knife point and
forced a broom handle up his rectum. Following his release on
December 17, Derrick S. began to experience severe anxiety and
depression for which he never received any counseling.*fn7
Instead, he was transferred to the SEU as a suicide prevention
measure. There he currently resides brooding alone most of the
day over what has happened to him. His depression has become so
pronounced that it is beginning to impair his thought processes.
Finally there is Calvin R., a twenty-one year old sent to
Stateville in December 1980 from Menard where he had been
undergoing "treatment" for anxiety and depression brought on by a
gang-rape suffered at Pontiac. Since arriving at Stateville
plaintiff has been continually threatened with both rape and
death. Inmates and guards, moreover, constantly call him "punk"
or "sissy." As a result of the threats and harassment Calvin R.'s
depression is getting worse. Thoughts of suicide "are occurring
with increasing frequency and detail." Amended Complaint, ¶
26(H). He has seen defendant Irfan, but has been told only that
he and his suicidal thoughts are "normal" for prisoners. Dr.
Kruglik has never even granted a request for an interview.
II. THE APPLICABILITY OF ABSTENTION
Before considering the merits of an abstention analysis, the
Seventh Circuit has adomonished that all doubt as to subject
matter jurisdiction must be resolved. Miller-Davis Co. v. Ill. S.
Toll Highway Auth., 567 F.2d 323, 326 (1977). In federal question
litigation, this inquiry boils down to whether the asserted
federal claim is "so insubstantial, implausible, foreclosed by
prior decisions of this Court or otherwise completely devoid of
merit as not to involve a federal controversy within the
jurisdiction of the District Court, whatever may be the ultimate
resolution of the federal issues on the merits." Oneida Indian
Nation v. County of Oneida, 414 U.S. 661, 666-7, 94 S.Ct. 772,
776-7, 39 L.Ed.2d 73 (1974); accord, Hagans v. Lavine,
415 U.S. 528, 543, 94 S.Ct. 1372, 1382, 39 L.Ed.2d 577 (1974). Plaintiffs'
constitutional argument clearly surpasses this low threshold. See
Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 97 S.Ct. 285, 50 L.Ed.2d 251
The argument for abstention is simple. Whenever a case can be
decided on either state law or federal constitutional grounds,
state law resolution should be preferred given the long-standing
policy of avoiding unnecessary constitutional decision-making.
Siler v. Louisville & Nashville Railroad Co., 213 U.S. 175, 29
S.Ct. 451, 53 L.Ed. 753 (1909). Furthermore, whenever the scope
of the underlying state law is "unclear," the courts of the
affected state should be given the opportunity to adjudicate,
since they — and not the federal courts — are the ultimate
arbiters of state law. Railroad Commission of Texas v. Pullman
Co., 312 U.S. 496, 61 S.Ct. 643, 85 L.Ed. 971 (1941). To the
extent then that state law is both unclear and subject to an
interpretation which moots federal constitutional analysis, a
federal court under the Pullman doctrine should stay its hand and
"abstain" from ruling pending state court resolution of the
disputed state law question.
These principles are potentially relevant due to the existence
of Ill.Ann.Stat. ch. 38, § 1003-7-2(d) (Supp. ...