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CAMPBELL v. MCGRUDER

October 8, 1982

LEONARD CAMPBELL, et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
ANDERSON McGRUDER, et al., Defendants



The opinion of the court was delivered by: BRYANT

 A.

 This case is before the court on remand from the United States Court of Appeals. Campbell v. McGruder, 188 U.S. App. D.C. 258, 580 F.2d 521 (D.C. Cir. 1978). It concerns the conditions under which inmates are confined by the Department of Corrections of the District of Columbia (the Department). The plaintiffs in this case are all pre-trial detainees. Most of them are housed at the Department's Central Detention Facility (Central), which is also used for convicted persons awaiting sentencing, for sentenced felons awaiting transfer to other facilities, and for sentenced misdemeanants serving their sentence.

 On September 22, 1982, the Department moved the court to vacate its order of March 8, 1982. That order in pertinent part prohibited the Department from confining more than one person in any cell at Central. On September 22, 1982, the court heard arguments on the motion to vacate. Prior to that hearing, the court visited Central.

 The Department offered two justifications for resorting to double-celling at Central. The first was that dormitories cannot be adequately patrolled and therefore pose a severe security risk. Though reliable statistics were not produced at the hearing, the Department asserted that the level of inmate assaults has increased at Central due to the use of dormitories. The second justification was that double-celling would enable the Department to remove dormitory beds from dayrooms and gymnasiums and use these facilities to provide inmates with needed recreational opportunities.

 The Department acknowledged that the introduction of double-celling at Central would itself create problems. These include the need for special security arrangements to enable guards to oversee activities within the cells, the need for the proper matching of cellmates, and the need for removal of the existing single beds, which are welded to the cell walls. The Department also acknowledged that hostility and resentment might develop between inmates forced to share cells and those permitted to remain in single cells. More generally, the Department agreed that double-celling places a heavy burden on inmates. Despite these acknowledged problems, the Department failed to provide the court with specific plans for how it proposed to administer double-celling at Central.

 B.

 The constitutional standards regarding the confinement of pre-trial detainees were set down by the Supreme Court in Bell v. Wolfish, 441 U.S. 520, 60 L. Ed. 2d 447, 99 S. Ct. 1861 (1978). The basic requirement, mandated by the Due Process Clause, is that pre-trial detainees must not be subjected to conditions that "amount to punishment". Id. at 535. The Court held that double-celling does not by itself amount to punishment:

 
We disagree with both the District Court and the Court of Appeals that there is some sort of "one man, one cell" principle lurking in the Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment. While confining a given number of people in a given amount of space in such a manner as to cause them to endure genuine privations and hardship over an extended period of time might raise serious questions under the Due Process Clause as to whether those conditions amounted to punishment, nothing even approaching such hardship is shown by this record. [ Id. at 542 (footnote omitted).]

 As the above-quoted paragraph indicates, whether double-celling amounts to punishment in a particular case is a question of degree which must be determined according to the facts of each case. Wolfish dealt with conditions at the Metropolitan Correctional Center (MCC) in New York City. In reaching the conclusion that double-celling of pre-trial detainees was permissible at MCC, the Court focused on four factors: (1) that MCC was a modern facility built according to the most progressive architectural designs, (2) that each cell contained about 75 square feet of floor space, (3) that the detainees were confined in their cells only from 11 p.m. to 6:30 a.m., and (4) that nearly all the detainees were released within 60 days.

 On this record, the Second Circuit ruled that double-celling of pre-trial detainees was permissible at HCCC. But given the greater hardships imposed on pre-trial detainees at HCCC as compared with MCC, the court placed a number of conditions on the use of double-celling. The "fishtank," the intermingling of healthy and sick inmates, and the use of floor mattresses were all prohibited. Furthermore, the administrators of HCCC were prohibited from double-celling pre-trial detainees for more than 15 days. *fn2" To go beyond ...


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