crowding not only because of the close proximity of people but
also because of the lack of adequate hygiene and the overtaxed
sanitary facilities, ventilating systems, and laundry
facilities. He also reported a general consensus of
professional thought that overcrowding in a prison leads to
increased death and illness rates, increased psychiatric
commitment rates, and increased institutional violence.
Dr. Christianson was of the further opinion that the
overcrowded situation at Pontiac has increased stress and
tension in the institution, he also found a distinct, greater,
negative effect from double celling compared with single
celling manifested by increased stress and tension.
The problems associated with overcrowding, such as increased
institutional violence and disciplinary infraction rates, are
compounded by limited access to recreation or job activities
at Pontiac and the lack of a proper classification system.
Available services have deteriorated at Pontiac as the prison
has become overwhelmed by population increases.
Terry R. Brelje, a medical psychologist and administrator of
the Chester Mental Health Center and coordinator of the
Illinois Forensic Psychiatry programs, is of the opinion that
the literature on crowding does not have scientific validity.
That opinion is shared by James Louis Cavanaugh, a physician
with a board certified specialty in psychiatry. Dr. Cavanaugh
is director of the Issac Ray Center in Chicago and is also
director of the Department of Psychiatry and Law at the Rush
Presbyterian St. Luke's Medical Center in Chicago. Dr.
Cavanaugh states that there is no high degree of scientific
reliability in the studies on crowding because overcrowding is
a variate which depends on a myriad of other stimuli responses
and interactions including the number of roommates, the amount
of privacy, recreational facilities, daily routine and the way
in which a prison is administered. R. at 479.
Dr. Cavanaugh concluded, therefore, that the scientific
methodology does not exist to determine the effects of
overcrowding. R. at 486. But Dr. Cavanaugh did say that while
it could not be said with clinical certainty that stress,
tension and other deleterious effects flowed from the
overcrowded conditions at Pontiac, he agreed that such effects
might or could result from overcrowding.
Dr. Cavanaugh testified that the fact that some inmates were
unassigned to work or school was considered by him but not
given great emphasis. He considered the problem of unassigned
inmates as not central to his study. I find that approach
startling. His erroneous understanding, which apparently was
supplied by the defendants, is that prisoners could be out of
their cells up to thirteen hours a day. R. at 1593. On
cross-examination he stated that his understanding was not
good of the length of time that prisoners spent in their cells
and that if he had been told he had forgotten. When pressed on
the point Dr. Cavanaugh did say that the length of time in the
cells was certainly an issue one would want to consider in
deciding whether the totality of circumstances constitute
cruel and unusual punishment. R. at 1591.
Dr. Brelje, when questioned by the court, admitted that
under current standards of humanity and decency, placing two
men in a Pontiac cell would violate those standards, and that
the amount of space in a cell per prisoner should conform to
the standards promulgated by the American Correctional
Association. R. at 636.
Dr. Brelje interviewed Johnny Smith and found him to be a
nervous and hyperactive person who was suspicious,
passive-aggressive, and possessed personality defects but who
was not mentally ill. R. at 579. Dr. Cavanaugh expressed a
similar opinion saying that Smith did not have any
freestanding psychiatric disease and that Smith does not need
a single cell for medical or psychiatric reasons. R. at 466.
However, Dr. Cavanaugh did volunteer that he would give Smith
a single cell for humanitarian reasons. R. at 1612.
Michael Lane, Director of the Illinois Department of
Corrections, testified that all cells being built in Illinois
at this time meet or exceed the American Correctional
Association standard. R. at 1436. The average size of a new
cell is seventy square feet and in all cases the cells are
designed for single occupancy. See also Ill.Rev.Stat. ch. 38, §
1003-7-3(b) (1977), which provides that: "All new, remodeled
and newly designated institutions or facilities shall provide
at least fifty square feet of cell, room or dormitory floor
space for each person."
Finally it is noteworthy that Dr. Gerald Foley, the medical
director at Pontiac, volunteered to the court during the
hearing on preliminary injunction that the celling conditions
at Pontiac were cruel and unusual. "I think the space of the
prison cells is too small for either single or double cell. I
think to force a human being to live in a closet is cruel and
unusual punishment. . . . Now my personal preference is
adequate space as to the cell size." Prelim.Inj. R. at 502.
Dr. Foley added that tension at Pontiac could be eased if
the inmates had more space and concluded, "If I were going to
do something about the situation personally, I'd make the
single and double cell an optional thing, and I damn well
would make the cells bigger." Prelim.Inj. R. at 503-04.
The constitutionality of the circumstances of confinement
has been before the United States Supreme Court and the
Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals in a number of cases. In
Hutto v. Finney, 437 U.S. 678, 98 S.Ct. 2565, 57 L.Ed.2d 522
(1978), the Supreme Court held:
The Eighth Amendment's ban on inflicting cruel
and unusual punishments, made applicable to the
States by the Fourteenth Amendment, "proscribe[s]
more than physically barbarous punishments."
Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 102 [97 S.Ct. 285,
290, 50 L.Ed.2d 251]. It prohibits penalties that
are grossly disproportionate to the offense, Weems
v. United States, 217 U.S. 349, 367 [30 S.Ct. 544,
549, 54 L.Ed. 793], as well as those that
transgress today's "`broad and idealistic concepts
of dignity, civilized standards, humanity, and
decency.'" Estelle v. Gamble, supra, [429 U.S.] at
102 [97 S.Ct. at 290], quoting Jackson v.
Bishop, 404 F.2d 571, 579 (CA 8 1968). Confinement
in a prison or in an isolation cell is a form of
punishment subject to scrutiny under Eighth
Id. at 685, 98 S.Ct. at 2570-71.
The length of confinement is a vital consideration in
deciding whether the circumstances of the confinement meet
constitutional standards. So conditions that might be
tolerable for a short period of time may become intolerable
and cruel if extended over long periods. Id. at 687, 98 S.Ct.
at 2571. Inmate confinement at Pontiac usually extends over a
period of years, and, in some cases, for decades.
Bell v. Wolfish, 441 U.S. 520, 99 S.Ct. 1861, 60 L.Ed.2d 447
(1979), in which the Supreme Court held that "double bunking"
of pre-trial detainees did not deny them liberty without due
process of law, is distinguishable from this case. This is a
case involving punishment of convicted prisoners. Bell is not.
In Bell, each of the detention rooms or cells had "a total
floor space of seventy-five square feet." Id. at 541, 99 S.Ct.
at 1875. Here the cells have fifty-five square feet of total
floor space. In Bell, "inmates generally are locked into their
rooms from 11:00 p.m. to 6:30 a.m. and for brief periods during
the afternoon and evening head counts. During the rest of the
day, they may move about freely between their rooms and the
common areas." Id. Here the confinement of the inmates in the
double cells is for eighteen to twenty hours a day. Again, in
Bell, the confinement of the detainees was generally for a
maximum period of sixty days. Id. at 543, 99 S.Ct. at 1876.
Here, the confinement is measured in years.
Rhodes v. Chapman, ___ U.S. ___, 101 S.Ct. 2392, 69 L.Ed.2d
59 (1981), is the Court's most recent pronouncement on prison
conditions as cruel and unusual punishment under the eighth
conditions of the prison described in Rhodes seem almost the
antithesis of the conditions at Pontiac. In Rhodes the prison
was built in the early 1970's. It was described by the district
court as a "top-flight, first-class facility." At ___, 101
S.Ct. at 2395 (quoting Chapman v. Rhodes, 434 F. Supp. 1007,
1009 (1977)). A large number of the cells had a window that the
inmates could open and close. Day rooms were located adjacent
to the cellblocks and were open to the inmates between 6:30
a.m. and 9:30 p.m. Inmates were permitted to pass between cells
and the day rooms during a ten minute period in each hour.
Seventy-five percent of the double celled inmates had a choice
of spending much of their waking hours outside their cells. The
air ventilation system was described as adequate and the cells
were substantially free of offensive odors. The temperature in
the cellblocks was well controlled and the noise was not
excessive. The double celling practices in Rhodes did not
render inadequate the resources of the library or school rooms.
At Pontiac, on the other hand, the conditions are exactly
contrary to the conditions found to exist in Rhodes.
Rhodes points out that the Constitution does not mandate
comfortable prisons and that prisons which house persons
convicted of serious crimes cannot be free of discomfort. But
Rhodes also makes the point that courts certainly have a
responsibility to scrutinize claims of cruel and unusual
punishment and that conditions in a number of prisons,
especially older ones, have justly been described as deplorable
and sordid. Id. ___ U.S. at ___, 101 S.Ct. at 2401 (citing Bell
v. Wolfish, 441 U.S. at 562, 99 S.Ct. at 1886).
If, as Rhodes teaches us, the goals of the penal function in
the criminal justice system are to punish justly, to deter
future crime, and to return imprisoned persons to society with
an improved chance of being useful, law abiding citizens,
Pontiac fails that test. Id. ___ U.S. at ___, 101 S.Ct. at
2402. But it also must be borne in mind that a practice that
may be undesirable from the standpoint of penology may not
necessarily be forbidden by the Constitution. Hutto v. Finney,
437 U.S. 678, 688 n. 12, 98 S.Ct. 2565, 2572, 57 L.Ed.2d 522
The Seventh Circuit in Stringer v. Rowe, 616 F.2d 993 (7th
Cir. 1980), held that "in order to establish a violation of the
eighth amendment, a plaintiff must show that prison officials
knowingly maintained conditions so harsh as to shock the
general conscience." Id. at 998. In Chavis v. Rowe,
643 F.2d 1281 (7th Cir. 1981), the court in passing on the plaintiff's
claim that his confinement with four others in a five foot by
seven foot space violated the eighth amendment observed:
Courts have found conditions of overcrowding to
be per se unconstitutional because the purpose of
the prohibition against cruel and unusual
punishment is to protect and safeguard a prison
inmate from an environment where degeneration is
probable and self-improvement unlikely due to
conditions which inflict needless mental or
In Lock v. Jenkins, 641 F.2d 488 (7th Cir. 1981), the court
observes that: "It seems to us that a minimum requirement as to
cell area should be imposed and this minimum should be
determined flexibly in relation to the amount of time
individuals are to be kept in the cell." At 494.
The standards set by a legislature are an important
indicator of the "civilized standard" which constitutionally
cannot be transgressed when a punishment is being imposed.
See Coker v. Georgia, 433 U.S. 584, 592, 97 S.Ct. 2861, 2866,
53 L.Ed.2d 982 (1977) (when making an eighth amendment
judgment, courts should look at objective factors such as
"legislative attitudes"); Furman v. Georgia, 408 U.S. 238, 437,
92 S.Ct. 2726, 2728, 33 L.Ed.2d 346 (1972) (Powell, dissenting)
("[T]he first indicator of the public's attitude must always be
found in the legislative judgments of the people's chosen
representatives."). If the indication of the public's attitude
is to be found in the enactments of State legislatures, then
Illinois recognizes that the celling
conditions at Pontiac are contrary to current standards of
decency. Ill.Rev.Stat. ch. 38, § 1003-7-3(b) (1977) provides
that new or remodeled prisons shall have cells with fifty
square feet per inmate. In addition, each of the witnesses who
testified agreed that the conditions at Pontiac were
overcrowded and that, cost considerations aside, they would
prefer to have the prisoners housed one to a cell not only to
serve the penal function but for security reasons as
The inescapable conclusion is that the Pontiac Correctional
Center is overcrowded, antiquated, and has inadequate
facilities to provide significant and constructive
correctional programs to the inmates. The confinement for
years on end of two adult males for periods of eighteen to
twenty hours a day in a cramped, ill ventilated, noisy, space
designed a century ago for one person is a punishment that is
contrary to every recognized modern standard of penology and
is in conflict with minimum standards established by the
The Pontiac medical director volunteered that he thought the
double celling conditions at Pontiac were cruel and unusual.
The professional witnesses, whose testimony the court
credits, found that the conditions at Pontiac transgressed
today's standards of dignity, humanity, and decency.
The burgeoning prison population, the inadequacy of existing
facilities, and the expense of providing additional facilities
are the only reasons found in the evidence for the maintenance
of the overcrowding at Pontiac. Those reasons are
constitutionally inadequate. See Preston v. Thompson,
589 F.2d 300, 303 (7th Cir. 1978).
I conclude, therefore, that the double celling conditions at
Pontiac constitute cruel and unusual punishment and violate
the eighth amendment.
I also conclude that there is inadequate evidence in the
record to support a finding that the plaintiff Smith has
deliberately been refused necessary medical treatment. Smith
has failed to carry his burden of proof on that issue. See
Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 97 S.Ct. 285, 50 L.Ed.2d 251
It is obvious that if the defendants were ordered by the
court to abandon the practice of double celling at Pontiac
immediately and to assign prisoners who requested it to a
single occupancy cell that the facilities at Pontiac could not
accommodate the present prison population. It is equally
obvious that the State of Illinois presently does not have
sufficient facilities to house the overflow population from
Pontiac in other institutions. The burden upon society and the
mischief that would be created by such an order outweighs the
deprivation and loss that is placed upon the plaintiffs by the
overcrowded conditions at Pontiac. An appropriate remedy under
these circumstances would be to direct the defendants to
submit a plan to the court to remedy the overcrowded
circumstances at Pontiac at the earliest date possible by
moving to single occupancy celling.
IT IS THEREFORE ORDERED, ADJUDGED AND DECREED that the
conditions of confinement at Pontiac Correctional Center
whereby inmates are involuntarily confined in a double
occupancy cell constitute cruel and unusual punishment and
violate the provisions of the Eighth Amendment to the
Constitution of the United States.
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that the defendants, within sixty
days, submit a plan to the court to remedy the overcrowded
conditions at the Pontiac Correctional Center at the earliest
date possible by moving to single occupancy celling.