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March 3, 1986


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



This is a class action by all prisoners at the Pontiac Correctional Center of the Illinois Department of Corrections seeking declarative and injunctive relief to remedy what the prisoners assert are violations of their residual constitutional rights to privacy. Jurisdiction is granted to the court under 28 U.S.C. § 1343(a)(3). Relief is sought under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 by claiming that the defendant, acting under color of state law, has deprived the plaintiffs of their rights under the First, Third, Fourth, Fifth, Eighth, Ninth, and Fourteenth Amendments and the penumbra of the Bill of Rights.

Specifically, the plaintiffs say that they are subjected to view by women employees of the Department while the inmates are in their cells or open shower and toilet facilities engaged in basic bodily functions. The plaintiffs also complain that tours of visiting students and law enforcement cadets, some of whom are women, are allowed to see the plaintiffs unclothed or engaged in basic bodily functions.

The defendant, James A. Chrans, is sued in his capacity as Warden of Pontiac Correctional Center. In defense of the claim, Chrans says (1) the plaintiffs have no constitutional right of privacy which is infringed by females viewing them undressed and using the toilet; (2) any privacy rights the plaintiffs might have are reasonably accommodated by current policies at the Pontiac Correction Center; and (3) the state has an obligation to afford female correctional employees equal employment opportunities and not to discriminate against them because of their gender. The defendant, American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), as collective bargaining agent of the female corrections officers at Pontiac, has intervened in their behalf.

At the close of the plaintiffs' evidence, the defendant moved pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 41(b) for dismissal on the ground that upon the facts and the law the plaintiffs have shown no right to relief. For the reasons stated in this order the motion is allowed.


Based upon the record and the evidence adduced, the court finds the following facts. The Pontiac Correctional Center is a maximum security penitentiary for male inmates operated by the Illinois Department of Corrections. The institution houses approximately 2,000 prisoners and has a staff of 740 employees. Of the 740 employees, about 100 are women and of that number, approximately 28 are corrections officers. The bulk of the female employees at Pontiac are social workers and counsellors, dietary personnel, medical staff, storekeepers, teachers, and secretaries.

There are three cellhouses at Pontiac. Each cellhouse contains eight to ten galleries, each of which has approximately 52 cells. Double celling of inmates predominates. The typical cell is a cubicle with three walls and an open front end covered by bars. The barred end of the cell opens onto the gallery which runs the length of the tier of cells. Anyone walking on the gallery can see into the cells and observe the activities of the inmates in the cells.

Each cell contains two beds, a sink, and a toilet. The cell also contains all the personal belongings of the inmates and sometimes a chest of drawers. In some of the cells, the toilet is located at the rear of the cell. In other cells the toilet is located at the gallery end of the cell.

Female employees of the Department come upon the gallery unannounced. The corrections officers patrol the gallery. The social workers and counsellors come upon the gallery to see inmates. Storekeepers distribute commissary goods. Female medical personnel come upon the gallery to take sick call. Department lawyers interview inmates. In addition, upon occasion, tours of students, public officials, state police cadets, and corrections officers cadets, including females, are conducted unannounced in the cellhouse galleries.

Female corrections officers began to serve at Pontiac in about November, 1975. On February 15, 1984, the Department of Corrections reached an agreement with the intervenor, AFSCME. That agreement provides in pertinent part that "no employee shall be ineligible to be assigned to a post based on gender except for visitor shakedown." The agreement also provides that:

  "Certain duties . . . may be limited based on gender.
  1) Direct supervision of open showers; 2) direct
  supervision of open toilets other than cells; and 3)
  strip shakedown."

The official policy of the Department of Corrections is to hire and assign female corrections officers and other personnel to all duties on the same basis as male corrections officers with the exception of assignments identified in the agreement of February 15, 1984. At present there are no full time duty assignments for female corrections officers on the cell house galleries. Female employees generally are not in the area of the open toilets and showers in the industrial section of the prison and the showers in the cellhouses are not open areas but closed ...

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