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OWENS v. U.S. BUR. OF PRISONS

June 12, 1974

Paul B. OWENS, Plaintiff,
v.
U.S. BUREAU OF PRISONS and William B. Saxbe, Defendants


Waddy, District Judge.


The opinion of the court was delivered by: WADDY

WADDY, District Judge.

 This action, arising under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), 5 U.S.C. ยง 552, is before the Court on the parties' cross-motions for summary judgment. The facts material to disposition of these motions are as follows. Plaintiff Paul B. Owens is presently an inmate in the United States penitentiary at Marion, Illinois, having been transferred from the federal penitentiary at Lewisburg, Pennsylvania on September 21, 1973. The transfer had been effected pursuant to the request of the Warden of the Lewisburg facility. In a letter dated October 10, 1973, plaintiff advised the Director of the Bureau of Prisons (BOP) that he wished to object to the summary transfer procedures employed in his removal to Marion, arguing that the prison action was arbitrary, capricious and an abuse of discretion. Plaintiff also complained that as a result of his removal he was being deprived of inmate privileges to which he had become entitled while incarcerated in Lewisburg. Expressing a desire to challenge the BOP action in the courts, plaintiff requested access to various prison records which he claimed were pertinent to his transfer and which would assist him in the preparation of his proposed judicial action. The six categories of documents which plaintiff requested are:

 
1. Prison progress and work reports;
 
2. Housing reports;
 
3. The written request by the Warden of the Lewisburg penitentiary for BOP's approval of the transfer;
 
4. The written report stating the reasons for the transfer;
 
5. Any other documents involved in approval of the transfer, including the names and addresses of officials giving such approval;
 
6. All documents in plaintiff's prison files relating to any legal action filed by plaintiff in the United States District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania.

 After the Department of Justice failed to respond to plaintiff's request, *fn1" a series of communications between plaintiff's counsel and officials of BOP ensued. On December 6, 1973 plaintiff's counsel informed BOP that the failure to respond to plaintiff's inquiry would be considered a denial of the request. The instant action was filed on January 16, 1974. Defendants are the Bureau of Prisons and Attorney General William B. Saxbe.

 On January 14, 1974 *fn2" the Director of BOP advised plaintiff that 92 pages of requested documents would be released, but that the following items would not be disclosed:

 
1. Work report;
 
2. Housing report;
 
3. That portion of a special progress report containing staff evaluation of plaintiff's ...

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