The opinion of the court was delivered by: FRANKEL
In the explosively growing field of law about prison conditions lately developed in the federal courts, this case has one relatively rare feature: it concerns conditions in one of our own, federal places of confinement. The institution in question is the Metropolitan Correctional Center (MCC) adjoining this courthouse. The action was brought for the MCC's involuntary occupants (both male and female) as a class, embracing the pre-trial detainees for whom the facility was primarily designed, sentenced prisoners either awaiting assignment to a prison facility or assigned here to serve their (usually relatively short) terms, prisoners here on writs to testify or to stand trial, witnesses in protective custody, and persons incarcerated for contempt.
Initially brought and conducted largely or wholly by the first-named petitioner, who has since been assigned elsewhere, the case for petitioners was assigned by the court to the Federal Defender Services Unit of the Legal Aid Society, which has proceeded with a quality of resourceful and dauntless vigor for which the court records its appreciation.
The petitioners have lodged a long roster of complaints resting upon an array of constitutional and statutory theories. Some issues have been decided upon motions for summary judgment. Thus, upon affidavits recounting undisputed facts, supplemented by the court's physical views of the premises, the transformation of rooms designed for single occupancy into double rooms was held unlawful and enjoined. 428 F. Supp. 333 (Jan. 5, 1977). Along with that determination, the court invalidated (1) a rule allowing petitioners' receipt of literature directly from publishers and from substantially no other source, (2) a practice of seizing property from inmates without giving receipts for it, and (3) the opening of inmates' outgoing mail. Id. Those determinations were accompanied by denials of petitioners' complaints regarding inspection of non-legal mail.
At earlier times, upon applications for interlocutory relief, the court issued preliminary injunctions relating to the MCC's telephone service and forbidding any change in visiting hours without notice to the court and petitioners.
Trial of the many questions still to be decided began on February 28 and extended, with some interruptions and truncated days, through March 30, 1977. In addition to the live testimony of inmates, attorneys, correctional personnel (including the Warden and Bureau of Prisons Director), and various experts, the court has considered deposition testimony, voluminous exhibits, and the observations made in two further visits to the MCC. These materials, as compounded and alchemized in post-trial memoranda and affidavits approaching a total of 1,000 pages, generate the findings and conclusions that follow.
In advance of enumerating what the court has decided, and why, it has seemed convenient to begin with a general description of the MCC, and then to sketch preliminarily the principles and restrictions (by no means fixed and certain) governing the involvement of federal judges in the conditions and management of federal prison facilities. Against these background observations, the facts and dispositions with respect to each subject of controversy will be the subject of our third, and lengthiest, chapter.
The MCC, which opened on August 2, 1975, has an appearance, and results from a course of planning, markedly divergent from the bestial traditions of the American jail.
However well or ill they succeeded, a question we must presently address, those who conceived and designed this institution strove to be humane. They undertook to plan not merely for security and efficiency, but for modest amenities that might rescue from the wretchedness of incarceration some remnants of privacy, self respect, and, even, dignity. The MCC, at least upon first sight, is markedly different from the familiar pattern of barred cages, gray corridors, and clanging gates comprising the standard image.
Two features of the institution have basic significance for its structural character and some of the major complaints lodged by petitioners. First, built in a congested part of a congested City, next to our court building, it is 12 stories tall and has no open ground around it for recreational or other uses. Second, the five floors of the building housing inmates are divided into "functional," or "modular," units reflecting a carefully conceived idea of how best to organize relatively complete programs within subdivisions of the building rather than requiring or permitting aggregations of the population for such activities as meals and recreation. The modular unit, as its creator imagined it, would facilitate useful classifications of inmates (e.g., sentenced people, those awaiting trial, dangerous/nondangerous). Each functional unit, being self-contained, would include its own common area, eating place, some recreational facilities, and separate sleeping quarters. Since the total number within the unit would be relatively small, problems of mass traffic would be cut or eliminated. Long periods of lock-in time would become unnecessary. Inmates could circulate within the unit during much of the day, moving freely from the common area to the comparative privacy of a dormitory or the more nearly entire privacy of the single room, which was to be the most prevalent form of sleeping accommodation.
This design was implemented. As the MCC came to be constructed, almost every floor housing inmates has two modular units.
Each unit has from two to six "clusters" or corridors of rooms or dormitories radiating from a central common area. One of the units contains dormitories, designed by the planners to house ten inmates each. The remaining units contain clusters of rooms, each designed for a single occupant, each originally equipped with its own key to be given to the inmate.
Except for a unit now housing female inmates, each of the rooms has a washbasin and toilet.
The common areas are carpeted, and other details are designed to supply some color and interest for the eye. These areas, except for the one in the protective custody unit, are two stories in height, with flights of stairs leading to the rooms or dormitories. Each common area has a color television set, couches, chairs, tables, telephones, mail boxes, exercise apparatus, one or more typewriters, laundry facilities, a water fountain, an education area, and pantries with microwave ovens. There is equipment for closed-circuit educational TV, said at the time of the court's last visit to be verging toward employment. There are staff offices within the units (other than the protective custody unit). Carrying out the functional design, meals are brought on carts to the units, having been pre-cooked and apportioned onto trays, and reheated in the microwave ovens before being served and consumed within the unit.
Avoiding the bar or cage motif, the designers and builders of the MCC arranged narrow, but unbarred, windows facing the outside world, made of a powerful 3/8-inch thick unbreakable polycarbonate plastic, which is colorless and transparent.
The windows are recessed some 14 inches from the building's face and are soundproof.
Since the units are designed and used to accommodate nearly all the regular aspects of life in confinement, there is little or no reason in respondents' view, or opportunity, for an inmate's departure from the confines of the unit during the days and nights of his or her stay. Many inmates actually stay within their units continuously for long stretches of days or weeks. There is no gymnasium, chapel, commissary, or industrial work place. There is a rooftop recreation area equipped with an abbreviated basketball court, and for paddleball, handball, or open-air spectatorship. The area is surrounded by a wall 20 feet high and topped by a mesh of stainless steel wires welded to a steel gridwork. The inmates, proceeding by units, are allowed about an hour a day in this rooftop area, the desirability of which varies, of course, with weather conditions, and they vary widely in their uses of this opportunity. For the overwhelming majority of inmates, these excursions, the sick call, attorney visits, and court appearances are the only times they leave their units.
Other aspects of the functional-unit plan -- touching, inter alia, visiting, religious activities, and library facilities -- are best discussed in connection with specific issues to be decided.
General propositions may not decide, but they define some useful perimeters for, concrete issues like those the petitioners have raised. In any case, the court has found it convenient to take some rough bearings before proceeding to the asserted grievances one by one.
We work in a new, but already substantial, field of law elaborated mostly by federal courts responding to demands of state prisoners for rights under the Federal Constitution and federal laws said to be offended by their treatment in state prisons. A host of cases have marked by now an array of rights to minimal decency in jails and prisons -- some rights of expression and religious observance; rights to moderately civilized living quarters, food, and medical care; rights to escape punishment either barbaric in character or arbitrarily imposed; rights even to a measure of privacy and personal integrity, among others. Without exhausting them here, the federal charter of prisoners rights has featured prominently the First, Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendments, commonly marshalled against state defendants under the aegis of 42 U.S.C. § 1983.
There is little if any quarrel in the scholarly briefs before us that the federal rights given to state prisoners are not greater than those of federal prisoners. A question still surprisingly open is whether a federal court, confronted by demands for fair treatment from "its own" inmates, may not in such a case shoulder greater responsibilities or, to put it less demurely, exercise greater powers. We send them there, after all. Bernard Shaw was probably right for his time when he said:
"Judges spend their lives in consigning their fellow creatures to prison; and when some whisper reaches them that prisons are horribly cruel and destructive places, and that no creature fit to live should be sent there, they only remark calmly that prisons are not meant to be comfortable; which is no doubt the consideration that reconciled Pontius Pilate to the practice of crucifixion.
But that is no longer the position when state prisoners come to federal court. It may outrun precedent to say prisoners are "wards of the court."
Still, the notion that judges may ignore people after they are confined is no longer valid.
And it may be uniquely unacceptable for federal judges dealing with federal prisoners after all that has happened lately to state prisons in the federal courts. As the point has been put negatively, "where state penal institutions are involved, federal courts have a further reason for deference to the appropriate prison authorities." Procunier v. Martinez, 416 U.S. 396, 405, 40 L. Ed. 2d 224, 94 S. Ct. 1800 (1974). It is at least implicit that our duties are less constricted with respect to federal prisoners.
Beyond such general propositions, there are pointed and specific reasons justifying closer scrutiny of federal prison conditions by federal judges. Without reaching questions of constitutional law, we find in the statute books a matrix of federal law in which our Bureau of Prisons functions. These statutes extend comprehensive powers of management, control, and supervision over federal prisons and prisoners, see 18 U.S.C. §§ 4001(b), 4042, 4081, and 4082, and the powers are given to administrative officials, not judges. At the same time, by no means uniquely, the powers import duties, see 18 U.S.C. §§ 4042 and 4081, and these obligations (to take care, protect, classify, provide suitable quarters, and instruct) are not misconceived or distorted if we describe them as intended to "benefit" those locked up under federal authority. It is no long step from that to infer that some rights -- at least against arbitrary, capricious, or unauthorized treatment -- accrue to the prisoners for whose management the statutes were written. Cf. J.I. Case v. Borak, 377 U.S. 426, 12 L. Ed. 2d 423, 84 S. Ct. 1555 (1964).
Further grounds for thinking the federal judicial power (and responsibility) broader for federal than for state prisons may be found in the Administrative Procedure Act. When state officials, judicial or other, chafe against federal intrusions, their own provisions for reviewing administrative action offer wide avenues for recapturing leadership and control in their own domains.
It was never decreed, after all, that the bare floor of federal constitutional prohibitions must become for the States a ceiling above which humane and creative ordering, even for prisoners, should not be conceived.
By a parity of reasoning, the statutory powers of the federal courts to draw lines against arbitrariness, caprice, and irrationality would seem to be available in appropriate cases where actions or practices of the Bureau of Prisons are called into question.
The subject seems still to be surprisingly open. There is some spare and divergent authority on the applicability of the APA to the Bureau of Prisons. Compare Ramer v. Saxbe, 173 U.S. App. D.C. 83, 522 F.2d 695, 697 (1975), with Clardy v. Levi, 545 F.2d 1241 (9th Cir. 1976); see also Mercer v. United States Medical Center for Federal Prisoners, 312 F. Supp. 1077, 1079-80 (W.D. Mo. 1970). Some courts have reviewed actions of prison officials under an "arbitrary and capricious" or "abuse of discretion" standard without specifically indicating the derivation of the standard. See, e.g., Marchesani v. McCune, 531 F.2d 459, 462 (10th Cir.), cert. denied, 429 U.S. 846, 50 L. Ed. 2d 117, 97 S. Ct. 127 (1976); Royal v. Clark, 447 F.2d 501, 502 (5th Cir. 1971). Without presuming to synthesize definitively the wisps of uncertain doctrine, and without considering "applicability" as a universal concept (since the APA may, of course, apply in some respects and not in others), but having firmly in mind the basic premise that "judicial review * * * will not be cut off unless there is persuasive reason to believe that such was the purpose of Congress," Abbott Laboratories v. Gardner, 387 U.S. 136, 140, 18 L. Ed. 2d 681, 87 S. Ct. 1507 (1967), this court has concluded that at least some actions of the Bureau of Prisons are neither "committed to agency discretion" nor shielded by any "statutes [which] preclude judicial review," 5 U.S.C. § 701, so that there is some scope for judicial duty and authority under the APA.
On the latter aspect, little need be said. There simply is no statute precluding judicial review.
The prior criterion -- whether the subject is "committed to agency discretion" -- is a harder topic. It was customary until lately for the judges to stay strictly away from issues as to prison administration. See Procunier v. Martinez, 416 U.S. 396, 404, 40 L. Ed. 2d 224, 94 S. Ct. 1800 (1974). That stance has changed radically in the last decade or so. It remains true that the judges are not to take over the running of the prisons, being notably "ill equipped" as well as unauthorized to do that. Id. at 405; and see Meachum v. Fano, 427 U.S. 215, 228-229, 49 L. Ed. 2d 451, 96 S. Ct. 2532 (1976). Still, the notion of prison administrators as absolute sovereigns is quite dead. And that is as it should be. There are powerful reasons, after all, why the judges ought to be prepared to give at least some attention to complaints against the conditions of confinement ordered by judges. There is commonly as a practical matter no other forum in which prisoners can be heard. They have no clout with legislators, other elected officials, or anyone in the responsible agency. See Davis Associates v. Sec. of HUD, 498 F.2d 385, 390 (1st Cir. 1974). Despite the traditional reverence we have paid to the expertise of jail keepers, there are, as the present record reveals, many pertinent matters on which their knowledge seems no more profound than that of judges. And experience has taught us now that judicial intervention may be meaningful, effective, and beneficial, without also being unnecessarily intrusive. There are, in sum, at least several factors of consequence rendering it unacceptable to hold across the board that prison officials' actions, policies, and procedures are unreviewably committed to their discretion.
Whatever may come to be the scope of statutory review of actions by prison officials, there are clear grounds of familiar judicial policy favoring that mode over constitutional adjudications. To be sure, this is an area, like many others, where conceptions of due process are "not graven in stone." Wolff v. McDonnell, 418 U.S. 539, 572, 41 L. Ed. 2d 935, 94 S. Ct. 2963 (1974). Times and circumstances change; "a reasonable accommodation" at some point in constitutional terms may come at some later time to be unreasonable and unacceptable. Id. So there is flexibility in any event. But that desired quality, and maximum participation by all those charged with governing, is more readily achieved when sound judicial decisions are possible without resort to the Constitution. Legislative and executive responses -- especially on matters like prisons, where the primary authority and concern are indeed for legislative and executive officials, Procunier v. Martinez, supra, 416 U.S. at 404-405; see also Meachum v. Fano, supra, 427 U.S. at 228-29 -- are more easily given, and may be paid more entire deference, when the adjustments and balancing of interests are accomplished in terms less portentous than the Constitution's. Upon premises such as these, this court has undertaken, with respect to each of the several issues, to consider possible non-constitutional grounds as well as (in fact, prior to) the constitutional theories mainly debated in the briefs.
It may be, of course, that the difference becomes more subtle and refined than is useful. What is "arbitrary," "capricious," "irrational," or "unreasonable," may at once, and indistinguishably, violate constitutional as well as statutory rights.
It may be enough for most purposes, without too much refinement, to accept as a usual test the Government's shortly stated standard of "whether the institution is providing reasonable and decent conditions of confinement * * *."
We are commissioned, however, to be explicit and candid, and to conform to the law. The effort has been, therefore, to identify the grounds of decision with a measure of specificity.
Whatever the grounds, whether constitutional or statutory, the case has been approached with three basic principles in view. These bear restatement:
First, deference is owed to the primary authority and expertise of those charged with building and running the prisons. Their judgments, unless made arbitrarily or in conflict with particular rights given by Constitution or statute, are entitled to respect and probable finality. See, e.g., Jones v. North Carolina Prisoners' Labor Union, Inc., 433 U.S. 119, , 97 S. Ct. 2532, 53 L. Ed. 2d 629 (1977).
Second, it remains nevertheless a powerful principle that a prisoner retains "all the rights of an ordinary citizen except those expressly, or by necessary implication, taken from him by law. While the law does take his liberty and imposes a duty of servitude and observance of discipline for his regulation and that of other prisoners, it does not deny his right to personal security against unlawful invasions." Coffin v. Reichard, 143 F.2d 443, 445 (6th Cir. 1944). Defining the rights thus retained -- and balancing them against problems of security, good order, and the supposed purposes of punishment -- is now an accepted, if not uniformly simple, task of the judiciary.
Third, pre-trial detainees, a central group in the petitioner class, are not subject to the substantial powers of prison officials that attend their function of administering punishment. For these detainees, presumed to be innocent and held only to ensure their presence at trial, "any deprivation or restriction of * * * rights beyond those which are necessary for confinement alone, must be justified by a compelling necessity." Detainees of Brooklyn House of Detention v. Malcolm, 520 F.2d 392, 397 (2d Cir. 1975); see also Rhem v. Malcolm, 507 F.2d 333, 336-37 (2d Cir. 1974).
With these thoughts in view, we proceed to the list of issues and their determination.
As described earlier, the MCC is organized into self-contained living units. With the exception of medical services and recreation on the rooftop area, the institution provides all services to the inmates on the living unit.
This "modular unit" is an interesting, well-intended, in some ways beneficial, but in some ways uniquely restrictive and hotly contested mode of confinement. The combination of common areas with radiating clusters of sleeping quarters is at first -- and, indeed, steadily -- more pleasing to the eye than the traditional corridors of cell blocks or dormitories. On the other hand, the narrow perimeter measurements of the unit as a whole soon become oppressive and close when, as is usually the case, they bound the inmate's world for 23 or 24 hours of the day. There is no room to run or jog or even walk very much. There is no place to go outside the unit -- or, at least, no place where it is permissible to go.
In this important respect, the units contrast sharply with more familiar styles of prison architecture. In many other jails, and in many secure prison facilities for sentenced inmates, the people in confinement can move freely over relatively long distances and in relatively large spaces. Within the perimeter walls of a Danbury or a Lewisburg, for example, there are hundreds of yards of walking and running distance both in recreational areas and in the corridors or open spaces leading from one to another of the places to which prisoners are expected and permitted to go. Movements of this nature are more or less random within the prescribed time spans, so that there is a modest but noticeable measure of choice and autonomy. During designated periods, confined people may proceed to work places, dining halls, commissaries, libraries, auditoriums, chapels, school rooms, gymnasiums, playing fields, and other varied destinations. Many of these goings and comings are matters of individual choice. They may be accomplished individually or in random, self-selected groups rather than formations proceeding under guard.
Analyzing the far more straitened confines of the MCC, experts for petitioners condemned it as a harsh and unacceptable form of "maximum security" imprisonment. Respondents' experts, who described as "maximum security" institutions those where inmates are locked into their rooms for 23 hours a day, or where inmates are separated from the guards by bars, considered MCC to be "medium custody." There is no dispute, however, that movement is more restricted at the MCC than in most other federal facilities. Nor are we likely to proceed far in resolving specific issues by conjuring with categories like "maximum" and "medium."
A corollary of the modular living system is the lack of central facilities which inmates may visit to engage in certain activities -- an indoor gymnasium, chapel, law library, general library, or commissary. Also, keeping inmates confined to their living units restricts employment and educational program opportunities. Petitioners request that the court order sweeping changes in the modular living system, including directions to develop central facilities such as those listed.
In studying the several issues thus raised, the court has confronted two that have pervasive significance: the classification of inmates and the length of time people are confined at the MCC. Because their resolution affects a train of other matters, these problems are treated first, followed by others more or less in the order of the briefs.
1. Classification. -- A relatively small number of MCC inmates are free of the most restrictive aspects of modular confinement. These are cadre personnel, often called "redstripers" for an identification symbol they wear, who are free to pass through the doors separating units and move about through the areas within the outside perimeter of the Center. For most of the others, however, the situation of substantially total confinement is maintained without any attempted distinctions among the obvious categories into which the inmates fall. This virtually complete failure to classify is defended on the ground that people stay for only brief periods in the MCC and that effective determinations as to their characteristics are thus rendered difficult or impossible. Further, respondents point out, they do not have pre-sentence reports on pre-trial detainees and thus lack a ready source of information on which to base classifications. It may be as difficult as respondents say to classify MCC inmates, though this is not established to the court's satisfaction. The claim of impossibility is totally untenable.
The failure to distinguish among inmates leads to a grossly excessive use of substantially total confinement when some lesser level of restriction would be entirely feasible in a great many cases. Rhem v. Malcolm, 507 F.2d 333, 338 (2d Cir. 1974), aff'g 371 F. Supp. 594 (S.D.N.Y. 1974). While the court has been asked to order sweeping changes in the physical arrangements for modular confinement, it seems imprudent to go so far. Instead, the court will direct a reasonable system of classification, allowing the respondents themselves, in the exercise of their main responsibilities, to proceed from that to a more acceptable level of confinement for at least a large number of those held in the MCC.
There is no rational excuse for holding elderly, lame, sickly, and otherwise incapacitated persons as tightly as may seem necessary for those more agile and disposed to take measures. Similarly, it is unacceptable to lump without discrimination the embezzler, the bank robber, the mail thief, the narcotics dealer, and every miscellaneous category of alleged criminal, and treat all alike for purposes of security. Not least of all, it is impermissible to treat indistinguishably those who are presumably innocent and awaiting trial, and those who have been convicted and are serving sentences.
The failure to classify, with its consequences of excessive and indiscriminate confinement, is rationally unsupportable, and correctable for that reason alone. It is also, as the cases show, a denial of due process. Building upon the common sense of the situation, as vindicated by ample precedents and nowhere refuted by respondents' submissions, the court will order, first, that respondents must separate pre-trial detainees from sentenced inmates. Barnes v. Gov't of the Virgin Islands, 415 F. Supp. 1218, 1235 (D.V.I. 1976); Holland v. Donelan, Civil Action No. 71-1442 (E.D. La. 1973); Hamilton v. Landrieu, 351 F. Supp. 549, 552 (E.D. La. 1972); Taylor v. Sterrett, 344 F. Supp. 411, 423 (N.D. Tex. 1972), aff'd in part, rev'd in part, 499 F.2d 367 (5th Cir. 1974), cert. denied, 420 U.S. 983, 95 S. Ct. 1414, 43 L. Ed. 2d 665, reh. denied, 421 U.S. 971, 95 S. Ct. 1969, 44 L. Ed. 2d 463 (1975); Brenneman v. Madigan, 343 F. Supp. 128, 138-140 (N.D. Cal. 1972); Hamilton v. Love, 328 F. Supp. 1182, 1191 (E.D. Ark. 1971); Jones v. Wittenberg, 330 F. Supp. 707, 717 (N.D. Ohio 1971), aff'd sub nom. Jones v. Metzger, 456 F.2d 854 (6th Cir. 1972).
Secondly, respondents must separately classify persons who pose physical dangers, who are thought on plausible grounds to pose risks of violence, of escape, or attempts to escape. Rhem v. Malcolm, 371 F. Supp. 594, 624-25 (S.D.N.Y.), aff'd, 507 F.2d 333 (2d Cir. 1974). See also Obadele v. McAdory, Civ. No. 72J-103 (N) (S.D. Miss. June 19, 1973); Taylor v. Sterrett, supra, 344 F. Supp. at 423; Brenneman v. Madigan, supra, 343 F. Supp. at 140. This is not only appropriate for the general security of the institution; it is also a means of implementing the rights of the inmates themselves to be protected from physical and mental injury. Gates v. Collier, 501 F.2d 1291, 1308-09 (5th Cir. 1974); Martinez Rodriguez v. Jimenez, 409 F. Supp. 582, 594 (D.P.R. 1976), aff'd, 551 F.2d 877 (1st Cir. 1977); Pugh v. Locke, 406 F. Supp. 318, 329, 333 (M.D. Ala. 1976); Alberti v. Sheriff of Harris County Texas, 406 F. Supp. 649, 669 (S.D. Tex. 1975); Rhem v. Malcolm, supra, 371 F. Supp. at 628-29; Incarcerated Men of Allen County v. Fair, Civil No. C 72-188 (N.D. Ohio, May 19, 1973). As the court said in the last of these cases:
"[A] jail should be a very safe place to be. Prisoners have a right to safety, and failure to provide maximum possible safety because of administrative or mechanical problems cannot be justified." Opinion at 3.
It is unacceptable, for example, to house in dormitories inmates who, on reasonable grounds, must be deemed to present threats to those with whom they live.
When the foregoing measures of classification have been instituted, perhaps along with others that respondents are, of course, free to evolve, it should be feasible to relax the existing restrictions on movement within the outer borders (which are highly secure) of the MCC. As has been noted, the court is unable and unwilling to prescribe such further measures of relief at this time. It is to be hoped that respondents will deal creatively and sufficiently with the problem. The issues that may yet arise on this score are postponed for another day.
2. Length of confinement. -- It has become clear -- it could perhaps have been said a priori -- that disputed conditions which may be reasonably tolerable for relatively short terms become progressively more cruel or injurious with the lapse of time. The point is underscored by respondents. Throughout their arguments -- on exercise, recreation, work, and other aspects of MCC life -- they emphasize that this is a short-term institution. The argument is significant. And it has significant implications.
Respondents stress that over 50% of the inmates spend less than 30 days in the MCC and 73% less than 60 days. Petitioners stress the still substantial number comprising the other 25%. Since the law values each of us one at a time, this large group of human beings must be reckoned with. So it is important to deal with the evidence that 7.5% are confined in the MCC for 60-90 days; 4.5% for three to four months; 8% for four to six months; and so on, with some inmates, mostly those in protective custody, residing at MCC for as long as 620 days.
The total record on the pertinent subjects demonstrates in the end that the modular arrangements in the MCC will do on the whole for as long as 60 days, but not for longer. This is obviously not a figure computed with calipers. It is, however, a considered judgment based on the totality of the relevant circumstances -- such things as the lack of a gymnasium, the lack of outdoor space for walking and running, the absence of a chapel, auditorium, library, separate work places, separate school and classrooms, and other facilities. Appraising these aspects in light of the testimony and direct observation, the court has been led to conclude that the MCC grows unacceptably cramped and oppressive for most healthy adults after a sojourn of two months. Some, of course, may find it tolerable, even preferable, for longer. Some may suffer -- to an extent that may come later to be separately adjudicated -- after much shorter times. But the record is preponderantly supportive of the view that the majority of inmates may fairly be subjected to the modular arrangement for 60 days, and that they are likely thereafter to suffer unduly in terms of close, constricting, tense, and frustrating confinement. See Rhem v. Malcolm, 432 F. Supp. 769, 789 (S.D.N.Y. 1977), and cases there cited.
Upon these findings, and having in mind the purpose and stated rationale of the Center and its design, the court concludes that confinement for over 60 days, except for volunteers, should not be tolerated. It is an arbitrary and capricious deviation from the intended and promised use of the facility. It is, if the point need be reached, a denial of due process. There is no reasonable or rational basis for perverting a facility built and justified for brief periods of detention into a long-term prison. The court will, therefore, order that no inmate be kept in the MCC for a period longer than 60 days without his or her consent. As soon as it is known that an inmate's stay will exceed 60 days (a prospect that may be obvious from the outset or only become obvious after the passage of some time), that inmate will be informed of his or her right to be transferred to another institution. The right may be waived. Inmates may well prefer the MCC, for its proximity to home or other advantages, despite its defects. See Rhem v. Malcolm, supra, 432 F. Supp. at 789. But the right of transfer, along with the privilege of waiver, must be made known promptly in clear and non-coercive terms.
As will appear further, several of the rulings on other issues rest in part on this premise of relatively short stays in the MCC.
3. Physical Exercise. -- There is no indoor gymnasium at the MCC. Physical exercise is available one hour each day on the rooftop area, weather permitting. There are weight machines, exercise bicycles, dip bars, jogging machines, wall pulleys, and medicine balls variously available in the multipurpose areas of the units, though not all of these things are on all units.
Petitioners challenge respondents' assertion that inmates have access to the rooftop daily. They point to the vagaries of weather in New York City. They complain further that the hours assigned to each unit frequently coincide with that unit's visiting hours; that the elevator is at times inadequate to transport expeditiously all inmates who wish to use the roof; that the guards do not make enough of an effort to let inmates know when the roof is open. Finally, petitioners point out that on several occasions over the past year, roof usage has been cancelled because of staff shortages.
The court finds, however, that the rooftop area is effectively available to the inmates for one hour per day at almost all times when the weather leaves it usable. The assigned hours are posted, and inmates can arrange to be ready for the assigned periods. Coordination with visits is perfectly feasible; respondents must deal, like everyone, with the limits of the day. On our tours, the roof area was well populated by inmates engaged in a variety of activities.
For those days when the weather does not permit outdoor activity, there is sufficient apparatus on the units to provide exercise. Although the use of this equipment sometimes results in noise that is less than ideal for TV listeners, the annoyance is modest and manageable with minimal effort by the inmates themselves to accommodate each other's needs.
A gymnasium, originally part of the MCC design, would be highly desirable. If the court were permitting involuntary sojourns of over 60 days, some facility of that nature might be claimed more effectively to be a requirement enforceable under the Constitution or relevant statutes. But the enforcement of the original purpose to use the MCC only for short terms obviates that possibility. The court concludes that the provisions for physical exercise, in the setting of this decision as a whole, are sufficient.
4. Religious activities and observances. -- The MCC provides religious services for Catholics, Protestants, Jews, Muslims, and Christian Scientists. There is, however, no central chapel. Religious services are led by clergy of the various faiths who make the rounds of the institution. Because the inmates may not leave their units, the clergy must divide their time among them and are unable to provide very extensive services or counseling. Several of them have offices in the MCC, but the inmates are not allowed to leave their units to visit them.
The modular restrictions result in a series of complaints. Jewish inmates, scattered among the units, are often unable to assemble a minyan (ten adult males) required for organized worship. A Muslim inmate complained that he did not participate in services because the Imam was of a sect different from his. Protestant and Catholic inmates protested the brevity of the time their clergymen have for them. More broadly, petitioners urge that respondents be required to "provide an adequately equipped chapel at the MCC to which petitioners may go for religious services;" additionally, that inmates should be allowed to visit the clergymen's offices; and that respondents should provide "sufficient numbers of adequate and qualified clergy of the same major faiths as petitioners."
It is obvious that conditions for religious observance at the MCC are not ideal. It would be preferable were there a chapel or other arrangements for inmates of the same faith to congregate. It is to be hoped, moreover, when classification procedures begin and overcrowding is mitigated, that respondents will find it workable to allow assembly of people from the various units for more effective and less cursory services. But whether or not that hope is realized, the court finds no grounds for ordering any of the relief thus far discussed under this heading. Again, for the short terms hereafter to be the rule, the deprivations must be tolerated, as they are in other exigencies both civilian and military, on land and at sea, that occur and recur in our community's modes of existence.
In one respect, however, respondents are shown to be paying less respect than the Constitution commands to the religious needs of MCC inmates. Muslim observers, like religious Jews, must eschew pork. Jewish inmates obedient to this requirement are given kosher meals since our Circuit ordered support of this dietary restriction. Kahane v. Carlson, 527 F.2d 492 (2d Cir. 1975). The simplest, if not a compulsory, expedient would be to give the same meals to observant Muslims. Instead, respondents have professed to prefer for the latter an arrangement in which pork is deleted from the Muslim meal tray and an extra helping of potatoes or some other vegetable is substituted. The arrangement is a failure. The substitution is wrong in nutritional principle; it fails to supply comparable nourishment. Moreover, even this inadequate arrangement is often neglected, and the observant Muslim is made simply to do without the meat portion or any replacement of any kind.
In this setting, the discrimination between Muslims and Jews, certainly not sought by either group, becomes a wrong to be remedied. Respondents have suggested no reason whatever for allowing it to continue. "In a case where a [practice] has been opposed on grounds as substantial as those presented here, the [agency] has the burden of offering some reasoned explanation." Assoc. Indus. of N.Y.S., Inc. v. United States Dept. of Labor, 487 F.2d 342, 354 (2d Cir. 1973). Respondents make no pretense of meeting this minimal test.
The court will order, therefore, that observant Muslims be served pork-free meals the same as those given to observant Jews, or allowed in substantially identical fashion to satisfy both their nutritional and their religious entitlements. The court leaves open to this extent the exact mode of compliance. See Kahane v. Carlson, supra, at 496. The critical point of the decree is that the rights be respected and that the existing course of arbitrary and unjustified discrimination be ended.
5. Law Library. -- The MCC maintains a law library that functions primarily as a lending library. Only members of the cadre are permitted to visit the library. All other inmates must request books as they need them, giving specific citations. Request slips are placed in envelopes on bulletin boards of each unit. The slips are picked up daily, Monday through Friday, and, within a day or two, the books are sent to the inmates. Three books may be requested at a time; they may be retained for a maximum of three days, but the time limit is often relaxed.
The librarian, a disbarred attorney serving a sentence at the time of our trial, is prohibited from engaging in any research. While this restriction is sometimes disregarded, the librarian never functions effectively as a legal researcher on more than trivial questions.
A list of library materials and rules is provided to inmates. The list was found, however, to be seriously incomplete. A considerable amount of material actually in the library is not on the list, an omission that is specially hurtful in an arrangement that denies library users access to the shelves and the physical collections. This lack of access is the most serious and decisive respect in which the library facility must be deemed inadequate. Writing for the small and selected readership of the Federal Supplement, the court need not labor the point that effective legal research is impossible where it must be attempted at a remote distance from the volumes, with hopeful stabs at three books at a time spaced over intervals of two days or so. While petitioners also complain of other things, including the insufficiency of the collection, this problem of non-access presents an overriding concern in the circumstances of the case before us.
Drawing a long bow, as always, petitioners demand that there be "a fully equipped up-to-date law library" with access at all times other than hours of lock-in. They contend also that the prohibition against possession of personal typewriters impairs efforts at self-representation; that the institution must provide typewriters for those who need but do not have them; and that facilities for duplicating papers are not, but should be, available to them.
The basic propositions from which the course of decision may proceed are these:
First, all of the inmates must have "adequate, effective, and meaningful" means of access to the courts. Bounds v. Smith, 430 U.S. 817, 822, 97 S. Ct. 1491, 52 L. Ed. 2d 72 (1977).
Second, all of them, if they are so minded, may represent themselves. Faretta v. California, 422 U.S. 806, 45 L. Ed. 2d 562, 95 S. Ct. 2525 (1975); Price v. Johnston, 334 U.S. 266, 284-85, 92 L. Ed. 1356, 68 S. Ct. 1049 (1948); Adams v. U.S. ex rel. McCann, 317 U.S. 269, 87 L. Ed. 268, 63 S. Ct. 236 (1942).
When we apply these principles to the case at hand, it becomes evident that a number far smaller than the total MCC population is meaningfully affected by the library issue. The inmates awaiting trial, the primary class for which the facility was built, are overwhelmingly represented by counsel. For them, the complaints about the library are not significant.
Most prisoners here on writs and most of those serving the characteristically short sentences involved when the MCC is made the place of confinement are not engaged in pro se litigation.
Finally, the problem for all should be alleviated by the limitation to 60 days of most sojourns at the MCC.
There remains, nevertheless, the small number exercising their right to represent themselves. For these, as has been noted, the existing long-distance, slow-moving, lending library system now in effect must be replaced. Contrary to respondents' contentions, this conclusion has support in precedent as well as in realities familiar to our profession. E.g., Nadeau v. Helgemoe, 423 F. Supp. 1250, 1272-73 (D.N.H. 1976); Kirby v. Blackledge, 530 F.2d 583, 586 (4th Cir. 1976). Inmates entitled to a library facility have a right to physical access to the shelves during a reasonable period of each day.
The implementation of this right should appropriately be left in the first instance for discretionary selection among possible options by the prison authorities. The high-rise urban institution presents both opportunities and difficulties. The MCC is a short walk or ride from some of the most ample law libraries in the country. The building itself, including the existing law library, seems cramped for work space as well as book shelves. If meaningful research is to be done there, the MCC library will need more room and a more ample collection of books than it now possesses. Balancing the several problems of logistics and finance, respondents may conclude that transporting the relative few who genuinely need this service makes more sense than contriving the expansions of the MCC library that would be necessary to meet minimum standards. Other possibilities exist: for example, respondents may wish to consider, in a City filled with eager law students, some arrangement under which inmates might be able (if they chose) to have the assistance of such students, volunteer lawyers, or others rather than enjoying the debatable right to wander freely, but perhaps blindly, among law library stacks. See Stevenson v. Reed, 391 F. Supp. 1375, 1379 (N.D. Miss. 1975), aff'd, 530 F.2d 1207 (5th Cir. 1976).
Within 90 days from the date of the decree herein, respondents will report to the petitioners and the court their chosen mode of compliance with the court's direction that inmates with need therefor be given physical access for reasonable periods to adequate law library facilities. If respondents' determinations are disputed, counsel for petitioners will have 15 days in which to bring on objections and counterproposals for the court's consideration. If respondents choose to comply by improving the MCC library itself, they must complete and expand its collection.
The open-ended handling of this subject at this stage is meant as an invitation to collaborative and imaginative management by respondents themselves. The court will be receptive in this light to proposed elaborations or modifications within the broad terms of what is held to be compulsory under the law.
There remain questions concerning typing and duplicating needs for legal submissions to the courts. The institution supplies one typewriter for each unit; petitioners say this is not enough and that there must be "an adequate supply of typewriters on the housing floors for use by petitioners in the preparation of legal materials."
The vagueness of the demand reflects the lack of solid foundation for the claim. The provision of more typewriters would be desirable. Perhaps the Bureau will acquire them in some future budget. But there is no ground for ordering more by court decree. Eisenhardt v. Britton, 478 F.2d 855 (5th Cir. 1973); Stubblefield v. Henderson, 475 F.2d 26 (5th Cir. 1973).
On the other hand, respondents' prohibition against inmates' acquisition or possession of their own typewriters is, on this record, arbitrary and capricious. As is true of other restrictions respondents have imposed upon personal possessions, this one is supported by no suggestion of sufficient or persuasive reasons. The Constitution may not confer a right to have a typewriter as an incident to the right of access to the courts. Tarlton v. Henderson, 467 F.2d 200 (5th Cir. 1972). But it is clear that a typewriter is a valuable implement for this purpose; that typed papers may leap more vividly than handwritten ones to the watery judicial eye; and that a barrier against this kind of support for cherished interests ought to have solid justification in reason and experience. Lacking any such support, respondents' prohibition against typewriters should and will be enjoined.
Finally, as to duplication of papers, the court finds petitioners' complaint unsupported by the evidence and dismisses this aspect of it.
6. General Library. -- The MCC has a central lending library from which inmates may order books which are shown on a list available in each unit. Additionally, racks of paperback books are placed in each unit. The library is stocked primarily from donations. Every four to six weeks, the institution receives as donations from drug store book racks between 1500 and 4000 paperbacks that have been stripped of their covers, and these are divided among the units. Magazines are collected by the Education Coordinator from the Post Office's dead letter office and divided among the units.
Petitioners seek, but the court will not grant, an order requiring a central library to which they may have physical access, as is their position regarding the law library. Since the court enjoined enforcement of respondents' "publishers only" rule, 428 F. Supp. at 340-41, inmates may receive reading matter from friends and relatives. There are magazines and books on each floor although, admittedly, they may not please all tastes. There is television on each unit. Newspapers are available from the commissary. One need not, and the court does not, find the MCC an agreeable place for an addicted reader in order to hold, as the court does, that respondents are not failing in their legal duties in this respect.
7. Education. -- The educational programs available to the inmates include "GED" (General Educational Development -- High School Equivalency Diploma), English as a second language, adult basic education, college courses through the Empire State College programs (including federal grants to cover inmates' tuition payments), and classes in art, dance, creative writing, human sexuality and family dynamics, life skills, world politics, sculpture, and drama. A closed circuit television system has been installed (it is not yet operational) which will allow inmates access to over 100 programs upon request.
Considering that the institution is but two years old, this is not an unimpressive catalogue. To be sure, school catalogues are not the most precisely reliable documents. And there are patent defects, including the fact that most classes are confined to single units, so that offerings are unavailable because of insufficient enrollment when there might be enough students were they drawn from the place as a whole. Once more, the court notes a hope that a rethinking of movement restrictions may lead to amelioration. But whether or not that happens, petitioners' demands for expanded educational programs cannot be granted by the court. The difficulty of organizing a meaningful education program for a largely transient and extremely diverse population cannot be overestimated. All things considered, respondents are doing not merely an acceptable, but a commendable job in this respect.
8. Jobs. -- Petitioners complain that there are not enough job opportunities available to inmates. There are no work-release programs; some inmates are employed in the institution either for low pay or none at all. The court is asked to order that respondents offer "constructive employment" to all inmates who wish it; that these inmates be paid at the federal minimum wage; that no inmates be required to work more than eight hours per day, five days per week; and that convicted prisoners be allowed to participate in work-release programs.
The court is not persuaded of any ground for interference in this area. Respondents appear to make genuine and earnest efforts to create employment opportunities. Inmates are employed in a variety of clerical and administrative tasks, though there are, of course a limited number of these. Many work at jobs they would not have chosen in the outside world, such as kitchen and sanitation work, but this is to be borne in the nature of the case. The institution has just received authorization for a broom and brush factory, a "first" for a detention facility.
It remains a regrettable fact that jobs are not available for many of the inmates. But this is among those gravest of social ills that courts cannot cure. It is not utterly irrelevant that the case has proceeded during a time of severe unemployment all over the land, especially among minority groups disproportionately over-represented in jails and prisons. The MCC is located in a large urban center where there are far too few jobs even for those not in correctional facilities. See, e.g., "New York is Lowest in Youth Employment," New York Times, August 2, 1977, p. 30, col. 1. Respondents appear to be doing what they can. The court may not expect or order more.
9. Commissary. -- Among the deprivations of the modular arrangement is the absence of a commissary, like those in many other penal institutions, where inmates may visit and shop for snacks, tobacco, and other things. An order form is distributed to inmates weekly, and orders are filled within the next day or so. Inmates are permitted to spend a total of $15.00 per week or up to $50.00 per month. Prices are set to cover the salaries of the commissary staff, and are subject to change without notice. There is no place to list a second choice on the order form; thus, if the inmate orders Brand A and it is out of stock, his order is returned with this advice, there being no means to have shown that Brand B, or even X, would have been preferred to nothing. When the institution is being inventoried, no orders are taken.
Deposits to inmate commissary accounts are made by the institution pursuant to "authorization" forms signed by inmates, allowing the institution to endorse checks and money orders made out to inmates, and deposit them in the MCC's bank account. These forms appear, however, to have been executed in many cases at and for institutions other than the MCC. Money orders are credited to an inmate's account within one day; checks are cleared within 30 days. Five days each week, the institution accepts deposits during two specified hours directly at the institution.
Petitioners seek a variety of changes in these commissary arrangements:
(a) The establishment of a commissary they may visit every other day, or, alternatively, the acceptance of orders daily.
(b) A place for alternate choices on order forms.
(c) Cessation of the cashing of checks and money orders in the absence of specific consent to MCC's exercise of this authority.
(d) Speedier clearance of checks.
(e) Removal of the $50.00 limit.
(g) Extensions of the hours when deposits may be made in commissary accounts.
The court will grant, at least in part, the first four of these requests.
The opportunity to visit at a store is among the small material pleasures most sorely missed in the MCC. The testimony reflects this; the court could know it judicially. Notwithstanding this, the court finds no constitutional or other basis upon which it could order the provision of this amenity. On the other hand, the niggardly allowance of orders once weekly, plus the cavalier neglect to allow even second choices on the order form, represents a level of indifference that satisfies legal as well as lay notions of arbitrariness and caprice. The practice respondents defend means that an inmate unlucky enough to arrive the day after commissary orders are taken goes two weeks without the snacks or toiletries or tobacco he would wish to buy. The denial of a place for second choices reflects, in a petty but galling fashion, the kind of indifference the Bureau of ...