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SMITH v. FAIRMAN

November 3, 1981

JOHNNY SMITH, ET AL., ON BEHALF OF A CLASS OF SIMILARLY SITUATED INDIVIDUALS, PLAINTIFFS,
v.
JAMES W. FAIRMAN, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



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

    FINDINGS OF FACT, CONCLUSIONS OF LAW, MEMORANDUM OPINION
                         AND FINAL ORDER

The plaintiff, Johnny Smith, is an indigent prisoner at the Pontiac Correctional Center, a penitentiary operated by the Department of Corrections of the State of Illinois. He seeks only injunctive relief against the defendants.

The essence of the plaintiff's claims is that he has been deprived of his rights under the eighth amendment to the Constitution as it applies to the States under the fourteenth amendment by being subjected to cruel and unusual punishment arising from the overcrowded conditions or "double celling" practices at Pontiac. Smith also claims that the defendants, by ordering Smith's confinement in a double occupancy cell, have deliberately refused him necessary medical treatment and thereby subjected him to cruel and unusual punishment.

Relief is sought under the provisions of 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Jurisdiction is based upon 28 U.S.C. § 1343(3).

I

This case began as eight separate actions by indigent Pontiac inmates for equitable and declaratory relief and for money damages. The cases were consolidated for ease of handling and judicial economy. A preliminary injunction was issued by the court on August 14, 1980 commanding the defendants to place the eight individual plaintiffs in single occupancy cells in the general prison population.

Thereafter, on October 30, 1980, pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 23(b)(2), the court allowed the plaintiffs' motion to proceed as a class identified as:

  "All present and future inmates of the Pontiac
  Correctional Center who are, have been, or will
  be punished for refusing to accept a double
  cell."

The plaintiff, Johnny Smith, moved, pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 42(b) for a separate trial on Count IV of the amended complaint and sought injunctive relief only and at the same time moved to strike the defendants' demand for a jury trial as to that count. Smith's motion for severance of Count IV and for a separate trial was allowed and, after briefing and argument, the motion to strike the defendants' jury demand was allowed on April 3, 1981.

The case proceeded to trial before the court on April 14, 1981 and the testimony of twenty-three witnesses was presented over a period of nine days of trial. Sixty-two exhibits were received and considered. The court also toured the prison, heard three additional days of testimony, and received fifty-two exhibits in connection with the proceedings for a preliminary injunction. That evidence is considered together with all the other evidence in the case pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 65(a)(2).

The court heard testimony from inmates, from correctional officers, from experienced corrections administrators and penologists, from psychiatrists and other physicians experienced with medical problems in prison administration, and from clinical psychologists and social workers who deal with inmates and prison programs.

II

The Pontiac Correctional Center is a maximum security penitentiary. It houses inmates who have been convicted of felonies involving violence and threat to human life. Many inmates are serving sentences longer than ten years. All of them are committed for extended periods of incarceration.

The prison was constructed, according to Warden James W. Fairman, in 1871 and was built to accommodate a capacity of 1,200 prisoners. At the time of the hearing on the merits in 1981 the total population of the prison was 1,918 inmates.*fn1 One thousand six hundred twenty-two (1622) were inside the walls in the maximum security unit and 296 were single celled in the medium security unit outside the prison walls.

Pontiac has three cellblocks. They are the North, South and West cellblocks. There are a total of 1,272 cells inside the prison of which approximately fifty are uninhabitable due to defective lighting, plumbing or locking systems.*fn2

Assistant Warden Wright divided the total population of 1,893 inmates at Pontiac as of March 29, 1981 into categories: 1,110 were assigned to work or school programs; 210 were in segregation; 230 were in protective custody; and 303 were unassigned to any job or program. Warden Fairman testified that as of April 24, 1981 there were 600 inmates in the West cellhouse and 410 inmates in the South cellhouse. In the North cellhouse there were 250 inmates in segregation and fifty-two inmates in the protective custody unit. Warden Fairman testified further that there were 146 inmates in the West cellhouse in protective units. One hundred seventy-two (172) of the inmates in the South cellhouse were in protective custody and nineteen inmates were in an orientation status, Warden Fairman said.*fn3

As near as I am able to determine from the evidence, there are 1622 inmates inside the walls with approximately 1220 cells to house them. Six hundred thirty-nine (639) of the inmates are single celled for segregation or protective custody or orientation reasons which leaves 983 inmates to be housed in 581 cells. That means that over 56% of the inmates at Pontiac are double celled, with the alternative being segregation or protective custody.

III

The West cellhouse is a concrete block structure with ten tiers of cells with forty-two cells per tier. The outer walls have large glass window areas and the tiers of cells back up to each other so that the front of each cell is a steel barred gate that opens onto a gallery facing the windows. The cells, as measured by the court, are 75 inches by 124 inches, or 64.5 square feet. The cells are slightly in excess of eight feet in height.

The West cellhouse has thirty-two showers and some inmates report that they are able to take showers daily while others are able to take showers three times a week. The floors of the cells are poured concrete and the walls are concrete block. Each cell contains a sink; a sanitary stool; two fixed beds, welded bunk fashion or bolted to the wall; and a chest of drawers or cardboard boxes or both for clothing and personal belongings. Each inmate in the general population is allowed to possess twenty-five books, twelve records and electronic equipment such as a tape player, a radio, or a television set. The equipage in a cell occupies so much of the available floor space that generally the prisoners in a double cell are left with approximately nine square feet for standing room. One prisoner described the available open space in his cell as an area about one and a half feet wide by four feet long.

The West cellhouse, when it was examined by the court, and as uniformly reported by the witnesses, appeared to be fairly clean and neat and the individual cells showed good housekeeping practices. Inmates are able to send their laundry out once every two weeks but most inmates do not send out the laundry because it comes back damaged or not at all. Instead, the inmates do their laundry in the cells in buckets or in the toilets or, when permitted, in the showers.

The South cellhouse is constructed in a manner similar to the West cellhouse except that there are eight tiers of cells with fifty-two cells in each tier. The cells in the South cellhouse are much the same as that in the West except that they are slightly smaller. They measure 64 inches by 124.5 inches or 55.3 square feet and contain the same equipage as is found in the West cellhouse. The South cellhouse has forty showers and inmates are able to take a shower three times a week. The South cellhouse appeared to the court to be fairly clean and the cells again appeared to be well taken care of. That also was the uniform observation of the witnesses.

The North cellhouse is of similar construction to the other two and has six tiers of cells with fifty-two cells in each tier. The cells in the North cellhouse measure 64 inches by 125 or about 55.5 square feet. In the North cellhouse each tier of cells has two showers, and showers are available to inmates once a week. The laundry services in the North cellhouse are available on a once-a-week basis. The witnesses uniformly observed that the North cellhouse was not as neat or clean as the South and West cellhouses.*fn4

In the general population, the two-man cells are uniformly very small and cramped*fn5 and it is difficult if not impossible to move about the cell unless one inmate is on a bunk. Dr. Christianson, the court appointed expert, related that the cells were so cramped that he had to back out of one of them to permit an inmate to leave. That observation is substantiated by the court's own inspection of the cells at Pontiac.

The sink in the cell has a cold water and a hot water tap. Inmates report that hot water is available only on an intermittent basis and the court appointed expert, Dr. Christianson, reported that there was no hot water in the taps that he tested at the time of his visit.

Light is provided in the cells by a single fluorescent bulb in the ceiling and air vents are present in the upper back wall in the West cellhouse and in the lower rear wall in each of the other cellhouses. The inmates cover the vents in most instances to cut off the spread of dust and roaches. R. at 364-65. In those cells where the vents were open, Dr. Christianson said he could feel no airflow.

The West and South cellhouses have fairly large yard areas connected to them. The yard areas are fenced in with cyclone wire fencing and have half court basketball and other recreational equipment available. The North cellhouse has two small yards which will allow a maximum of ten inmates in a yard area at any one time.

IV

Of the 1622 prisoners inside the walls at Pontiac only about one-half have regular work or school assignments. The remaining half of the population is divided into unassigned or idle general population, protective custody or disciplinary segregation. The West cellhouse population comprises the assigned or work force. Most of the unassigned inmates are housed in the South cellhouse. The North cellhouse contains the prisoners in disciplinary segregation and those in protective custody.

The daily routine of prisoners and the quality of life in Pontiac I found was best gathered from the testimony of the inmates themselves which I credit.

A.

John Joseph Generella is a fifty-three year old inmate at Pontiac who lives in the West cellhouse. Generella was serving a four year term for robbery and attempted burglary and theft.*fn6 He has a job assignment in the institution caring for the inner lawn and is also a boxing coach at the institution's gymnasium. Generella has had a succession of cellmates who caused him trouble. He describes one "celly" who was a member of the Ku Klux Klan. R. at 325-26, 328. Generella says he was fearful of attack by other inmates because it was thought that he too was a member of the Klan. One cellmate was a Black youth who belonged to a Black gang and used his connections in an attempt to extort personal property from Generella. R. at 326, 330. Generella says that he had to threaten to strike that cellmate with the stool to put an end to the extortion. Generella reports that he had a similar experience with a Hispanic youth who belonged to a Hispanic gang.

Generella says that double celling is a constant source of difficulties. You live in constant fear that your cellmate may "go off," that is attack you.*fn7 You have no individual property. Your personal belongings become common property with the cellmate. It is smart to share or else you have to fight and the stronger man in the cell will always win and dominate matters. R. at 327, 332-34.

Mr. Generella has had problems with cellmates who would spatter the cell floor when they urinated in the toilet. R. at 331. He had one sixteen year old cellmate who spent a good deal of his time sitting in the corner masturbating before the picture of a nude woman. R. at 335. There is the continual fear, he says, of homosexual attack. A grievance is an ineffective tool to remedy a difficulty with a cellmate, Generella says, because of the time involved in processing a grievance.

Generella says that he can't go out to the yard on Sundays because of gang fear, R. at 337, but because of his lawn job and his assignment as a boxing coach at the gymnasium, Generella is out of his cell about six hours a day, five days a week. While working at his lawn assignment, however, Generella states, his tasks generally take fifteen minutes to complete and during the remaining four hours, he just pushes dirt around. R. at 312-13.

B.

Yusuaf Asad Madyun, also known as Joseph Hurst, is a murderer. In 1968 he was sentenced to death which was reduced to 100 to 300 years. He is also serving a term of nineteen to twenty years for attempted murder and a third term of nine to ten years for aggravated battery.

Hurst was graduated from high school in 1961. He attended Southern Illinois University and Iowa State for a time and worked for two years as a CTA bus driver in the City of Chicago. He also was employed as a driver for the Nabisco Baking Company.

He first went to Pontiac on May 8, 1974, and he has been a resident there ever since. He has lived in a single cell since August 1980 when this court issued a temporary injunction directing that he be placed in a single cell. He currently lives in the South cellhouse where most residents are unassigned except to the mess hall and to cellhouse cleaning of the common areas. Madyun is unassigned mainly because he has refused assignments which he didn't think were challenging mentally. R. at 130-31.

The mess hall is located in the South cellhouse and the South cellhouse inmates eat after the West cellhouse inmates have been served. Madyun says he is out of the cell for about forty minutes for breakfast and then back in the cell until "yard"*fn8 is called. Madyun says he may also have a "call line"*fn9 about four times a week which permits him to leave the cell and move about the institution to a designated place but that some inmates have no call lines. R. at 136. Yard time during the morning lasts for about an hour to one hour and a quarter. In the winter time yard occurs only in the morning but in the summer it occurs in the afternoons as well. There is only one yard call ...


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