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VALVANO v. MCGRATH

December 8, 1970

Ralph VALVANO, Donald Leroland, and Jonathan Williams, individually and on behalf of all other persons similarly situated, Plaintiffs,
v.
George F. McGRATH, Commissioner of Correction for the City of New York; John V. Lindsay, Mayor, City of New York; John P. Kennedy, Warden, Queens House of Detention for Men; Albert Ossakow, Deputy Warden, Queens House of Detention for Men; individually and in their official capacities, Defendants


Judd, District Judge.


The opinion of the court was delivered by: JUDD

INTERIM FINDINGS AND ORDER

JUDD, District Judge.

 In this civil rights action by inmates of the Queens House of Detention for Men (QHD), plaintiffs seek an injunction against the use of violence by Correction Officers, and other injunctive relief. The court has heard testimony in relation to plaintiffs' motion for a preliminary injunction and in relation to the maintenance of the case as a class action, on November 20, 24 and 25 and December 1, 2, 3, 7 and 8, 1970, in addition to a conference with counsel on November 30, 1970.

 On the basis of the evidence thus far heard, the court finds that:

 1. The plaintiffs from a period prior to October 1, 1970 were and still are inmates of the Queens House of Detention for Men.

 2. QHD is an institution maintained by the Department of Correction of the City of New York for the custody of male persons awaiting grand jury action, trial or sentence, and for a limited number of sentenced prisoners.

 3. The defendants each occupy the official position set forth in the caption, except that Albert Ossakow is now Acting Warden of QHD.

 4. Queens House of Detention for Men is a relatively modern institution. Prior to the disturbance of October 2, 1970, it had facilities and equipment for the custody, medical and dental care, recreation and certain education of the persons intended to be confined there. The QHD regulations accord substantial privileges to the inmates, and the Warden had given consideration to any grievances presented to him by the inmates. However, the institution was substantially overcrowded and understaffed.

 5. On October 2, 1970, some of the inmates took control of the second through the eighth floors of the building, excluded the Correction Officers from these floors, and destroyed commissary, dental, library, medical and other equipment in the building. The inmates remained in possession of the building through October 3, 1970.

 6. On Sunday, October 4, 1970, the Correction Officers, with reinforcements from other institutions in the City, retook control of the building, using force against the inmates where necessary. Some of the inmates had fashioned weapons which were capable of causing serious injury.

 7. There is enough evidence to create a substantial issue as to whether unresisting inmates were beaten by Correction Officers on October 4, 1970. It is not necessary for present purposes to determine the circumstances or extent of any improper use of force.

 8. On October 13, 1970, defendant Ossakow caused to be read to all Correction Officers in QHD the terms of the departmental regulation (Rule 5.12) restricting the use of force against inmates.

 9. Any instances of improper use of force after October 13 have been sufficiently few to leave the court uncertain whether plaintiffs can ultimately establish a right to enjoin the use of violence against inmates in general by Correction Officers.

 10. Inmates who have given statements to the plaintiffs' attorneys or have testified as witnesses for the plaintiffs, have expressed genuine fears concerning reprisals against them by Correction Officers, either in QHD or in other institutions to which these inmates may subsequently be transferred.

 11. Inmates who have given statements to the defendants or their attorneys or have testified as witnesses for the defendants have expressed genuine fears concerning reprisals against them by other inmates either in QHD or in other institutions to which they may be transferred.

 12. There is no substantial evidence of any confiscation or destruction of inmates' personal property after about October 6, 1970.

 13. There is no substantial evidence of any inadequacy in the diet of inmates, but the diet for inmates in segregation seems not to have been approved by the attending physician.

 14. There is no substantial evidence of any refusal of reasonable medical care to any inmate after about October 7, 1970.

 15. Thomas Hines, an inmate of QHD, died on October 5, 1970 of a massive dose of darvon, which appears to have been injected several hours after Correction Officers had placed him in his cell, and prior to any search of the cell.

 16. The medical examiners found marks on Hines' body which may or may not have been caused by blows, but reported that any traumatic injuries were insufficient to have caused his death.

 17. The action of the inmates on October 2 and 3, 1970 was not caused by any action or omission of defendants McGrath, Kennedy or Ossakow, but was based in large part on the frustration of legal and judicial delays which had prolonged the "temporary" incarceration of defendants awaiting disposition of their cases, and was triggered by knowledge of similar outbreaks in other city penal institutions.

 18. Since October 5, 1970, the number of persons confined at QHD has been reduced by the release of a number of inmates on bail.

 19. Up to the present date, no disciplinary proceedings have been instituted against any Correction Officer with respect to any alleged beatings of inmates.

 20. The Correction Department's investigation of the riots is being conducted by Officers one of whom is charged by ...


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