The opinion of the court was delivered by: BRYANT
Pursuant to the directions of our Circuit Court of Appeals as contained in its remand order, this Court has held hearings pointed to determining the degree to which compliance has been had with its interim order of March 21, 1975 relative to the housing of pretrial detainees at the District of Columbia Jail. Also pursuant to the order, the defendants are directed to take specific steps which appear to be feasible, and likely to solve the problem of space. The results of these proceedings and the supplemental directions to the defendants are as follows:
Following issuance of the Order by the United States Court of Appeals on May 2, 1975, the District of Columbia Department of Corrections filed with this Court on May 16, 1975, a report indicating that it was then in compliance with the requirement of this Court's Interim Order of March 21, 1975, that no member of plaintiff class be housed in an area less than 48 square feet at the District of Columbia Jail. Compliance with this Order was achieved notwithstanding earlier testimony by Mr. Jackson, the Director of the Department, on April 1, 1975, that the Department had "reached the ultimate" in its efforts to comply with the Order, and the arguments of the Department in the Court of Appeals on April 25 that compliance with the Order was impossible.
As of May 15, 1975, the population of the Jail was 751, and twenty of those persons, all sentenced individuals, were being held in less than 48 square feet per man. All other persons at the Jail had at least 48 square feet each.
Following a request by plaintiffs' counsel, this Court held a further hearing on August 7, 1975, to investigate reports that the defendants were at that time not complying with the 48 square feet requirement. The population at the Jail on August 4 was 882 persons, 584 unsentenced, 255 sentenced and 43 being held on writs of habeas corpus ad prosequendum or ad testificandum, or in connection with a pending appeal.
Of the 584 unsentenced individuals present at the Jail on August 4, a study by the defendants revealed that nearly two thirds of them (63%) had been held at the Jail longer than thirty days, and more than 20% had been held at the Jail in excess of four months.
On August 7, approximately 175-200 unsentenced individuals were being double-housed in cells measuring approximately six feet by eight feet. At the same time, a substantial number of the sentenced prisoners were either housed alone in the same size cell, or were housed in dormitory facilities where they enjoyed at least 48 square feet per man.
At the August 7 hearing, Charles M. Rodgers, the Assistant Director of Operations of the Department of Corrections, and the man specifically charged by the Director with the responsibility for compliance with this Court's Order of March 21, admitted that although he was familiar with that Order and with the Order issued by the United States Court of Appeals on May 2, 1975, he had nevertheless made no efforts to consult with the Chief Judges of the two trial courts in this jurisdiction, nor with the District of Columbia Bail Agency, as contemplated by the order of the Court of Appeals. Similarly, although the Department's report filed with this Court on May 16 stated that the Department would convert recreation space at the Jail to afford additional housing, Mr. Rodgers admitted that he had no intent to do so, and had no such intent at the time the report was filed with the Court.
As of August 7, no system had been established by the Department to determine whether or not the Jail was complying with the 48-square feet requirement; no consultation with the courts had been undertaken to attempt to expedite the sentencing of convicted individuals being held at the Jail awaiting sentencing; and, although this Court's Order applied only to pre-conviction detainees, no effort had been made to identify that class of persons as distinguished from those already convicted but awaiting sentencing.
During the course of the August 7 hearing, at the suggestion of this Court's Deputy Clerk, a simple method of identifying the plaintiff class was suggested to officials of the Department. This "reform", which involved a minor change in the Superior Court and District Court Clerks' offices' method of processing commitment papers, was subsequently put into effect, and as of August 18, the Jail has been able to identify the plaintiff class.
While some efforts were made by lower-level Department employees to reduce the population of the Jail, these efforts did not have a substantial impact on the crowding problem.
At the conclusion of the August 7 hearing, the Court scheduled another hearing for August 15. At the latter hearing, the Court and counsel were joined by a representative of the Mayor's Office, as well as Department of Corrections officials. At the hearing, the Court was advised that the capacity of the Jail to house residents in 48 square feet had been increased, by two methods: (a) the capacity had been recomputed to include lavatory and hallway space in some housing areas, so that although no physical changes had been made to the structure of the Jail, the Department now felt that a larger number of persons could be housed in the same space as before without violating their right to 48 square feet per man; (b) "emergency funds" in excess of $10,000 had been made available by the Mayor's Office, which would enable the Jail to convert an area not previously used for housing to a dormitory. The Court was assured by the defendants that the Jail would be able to hold 951 individuals, allotting each at least 48 square feet, and that this would enable the Jail to be in compliance as of August 15. In addition, the Department represented that some movable housing units, known as "demountables", were available to the District Government, and that these also could be used if necessary. Finally, defendants assured the Court that notice would be given if the Jail's population increased to the extent that the 48 square feet rule was not being complied with.
Shortly after the August 15 hearing, the Court, accompanied by counsel for both sides, made an unannounced inspection of the Jail, and toured most of the housing units. The Court saw and spoke with inmates housed in Cell Block 2, where two men were confined in single cells, and confirmed the testimony adduced at trial on the physical aspects of overcrowding at the Jail.