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INMATES v. JACKSON

May 24, 1976

INMATES, D. C. JAIL, et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
DELBERT C. JACKSON, et al., Defendants



The opinion of the court was delivered by: BRYANT

 This case is substantially identical to Campbell v. McGruder, 416 F. Supp. 100, decided by this Court November 5, 1975. The plaintiffs here challenge the same conditions and request the same relief. The sole material difference is the class itself: the plaintiff class consists of all those inmates not members of the plaintiff class in Campbell. Plaintiffs therefore ask for summary judgment as to all those issues which have been resolved in Campbell, invoking the doctrines of collateral estoppel and judicial notice.

 The Court finds both doctrines applicable to the present situation. Collateral estoppel requires that the facts sought to be foreclosed from relitigation be the same as in the previous case. Hurley v. Beech Aircraft, 355 F.2d 517 (7th Cir., 1966). Those facts and issues must have been fully litigated in the prior action, so that the party against whom the estoppel is sought has had an adequate opportunity to contest the disputed facts. Hurley v. Beech Aircraft, supra. The facts subject to the estoppel must have been judicially determined, and must have been material to and in support of the holding. Hurley v. Beech Aircraft, supra. Finally, the party against whom the estoppel is sought must be the same party or in privity with the party against whom the original determination was rendered. Blonder-Tongue Laboratories, Inc. v. University Foundation, 402 U.S. 313, 28 L. Ed. 2d 788, 91 S. Ct. 1434 (1971).

 All of these tests are met here. There could hardly be a case more appropriate for application of collateral estoppel than this one, where all the issues have been fully litigated and resolved. The defendants have had every opportunity to contest the facts involved, and those facts can no longer be open to any dispute. Even in the absence of the requisite elements of collateral estoppel, the Court could judicially notice the record in Campbell to arrive at the same result. See, e.g., Shuttlesworth v. Birmingham, 394 U.S. 147, 22 L. Ed. 2d 162, 89 S. Ct. 935 (1969); Dixon v. Jacobs, 138 U.S. App. D.C. 319, 427 F.2d 589 (1970).

 The defendants' opposition to plaintiffs' motion raises no arguments which were not raised and decided in Campbell. The only legal distinction to be drawn between these two cases is that the plaintiff class in Campbell consists of persons not yet convicted of the crimes with which they are charged, while in the present case all class members have been convicted of such crimes. Whatever the force of that distinction in borderline circumstances, the reality of conditions at the D.C. Jail is so bad as to compel the Court to hold that they constitute cruel and unusual punishment for any human beings incarcerated there. In so holding, the Court is cognizant of the expanding meaning of the Eighth Amendment, which evolves from ". . . standards of decency that mark the progress of a maturing society". Trop v. Dulles, 356 U.S. 86, 101, 78 S. Ct. 590, 598, 2 L. Ed. 2d 630 (1950).

 The current meaning of the Eighth Amendment is apparent in such cases as Holt v. Sarver, 309 F. Supp. 362 (1970) affirmed 442 F.2d 304 (1971); Jones v. Wittenberg, 323 F. Supp. 93 (1971), aff'd sub nom. Jones v. Metzger, 456 F.2d 854; James v. Wallace, 382 F. Supp. 1177 (1974); Costello v. Wainwright, 397 F. Supp. 20 (1975); Pugh v. Locke 406 F. Supp. 318 (M.D. Ala. N.D. 1976).

 Holt consisted of eight class actions brought on behalf of inmates in the Arkansas prison system. Plaintiffs argued among other things that confinement under the conditions and practices of that system amounted to cruel and unusual punishment. The Court found that the conditions were indeed such that confinement of persons in the system amounted to cruel and unusual punishment. The significance of Holt lies in the Court's recognition that conditions of confinement themselves under certain circumstances can amount to cruel and unusual punishment. The Court found

 
". . . the concept of 'cruel and unusual punishment' is not limited to instances in which a particular inmate is subjected to a punishment directed at him as an individual. In the Court's estimation confinement itself within a given institution may amount to a cruel and unusual punishment prohibited by the Constitution where the confinement is characterized by conditions and practices so bad as to be shocking to the conscience of reasonably civilized people even though a particular inmate may never personally be subjected to any disciplinary action." Holt at 372-373.

 While the Court believes that the conditions and practices at the District of Columbia Jail on their face are "so bad as to be shocking to the conscience of reasonably civilized people", Holt, supra, it finds further support for this position in the analogous cases of Jones, James, Costello, and Pugh. Each deals with the abridgment of constitutional rights of sentenced prisoners. Each deals with one or more of the factual issues before the Court in the instant case. Jones and Pugh (which was consolidated with James) are of particular significance in that the facts leading the Court in one to find cruel and unusual punishment are very similar to the facts of the other and of those in Campbell v. McGruder, supra, and therefore facts in the instant case.

 Jones was a class action brought on behalf of all prisoners in the Lucas County (Ohio) Jail. The class included both sentenced inmates and pretrial detainees. Pugh was a consolidated class action brought on behalf of all inmates incarcerated in Alabama state penal institutions and subjected to conditions in violation of their Eighth and Fourteenth Amendment rights. Similarly, in the present case the Court has been asked to provide relief to all non-pretrial detainees at the District of Columbia Jail.

 The Courts in both Jones and Pugh held that the conditions in the respective prisons or prison systems constituted cruel and unusual punishment. Both decisions base their determinations of law on findings of fact similar to those found by this Court in Campbell v. McGruder 416 F. Supp. 111 (D.D.C. 1976) and judicially noted as the basis of this decision. These are overcrowded, unsafe and unsanitary conditions, lack of proper care for inmates with psychiatric problems, lack of recreation and overly restrictive visitation rights.

 In Campbell this Court noted that overcrowding was the most flagrant and shocking encroachment on the constitutional rights of pretrial detainees at the D.C. Jail. The Jones and Pugh Courts similarly emphasized overcrowding. The Lucas County Jail in Jones was built in the last decade of the 19th century and was about 76 years old at the time of the decision. The Jail was designed to hold 150 prisoners, has held up to 272 and at the time of the opinion was holding 200. Inmates in the Lucas County Jail were held in two-man cells each 6 X 9 feet in floor area. The cells are equipped with two bunks, a toilet and sink with running cold water. The Alabama District Court was equally concerned with overcrowding in Pugh when it cited population statistics for the four principal institutions in the State prison system, showing actual capacity running one-third or more over maximum capacity. *fn1" Overcrowding in the D.C. Jail is equally bad, as the Campbell litigation has demonstrated. Indeed, the cells in the D.C. Jail are even smaller than those outlined in Jones (6 feet x 7 feet 10 inch, compared to 6 feet x 9 feet) and often house two men.

 All three Courts have noted the unsafe and unsanitary conditions existing at each prison facility. In Jones the Court noted that when a prisoner enters the Lucas County Jail he is given a towel which is replaced once a week. He is also given a blanket which may or may not have been washed before it was issued, and usually but not always a mattress consisting of a small piece of foam rubber. The Court in Pugh also notes the issuance of old and filthy mattresses leading to the spread of contagious diseases and body lice. ...


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