it likely that they will be released on parole only after serving a longer period than their male counterparts certainly raises a fundamental constitutional issue.
Furthermore, the segregation of black male prisoners from white male prisoners was found to have violated the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution. Lee v. Washington, 390 U.S. 333, 88 S. Ct. 994, 19 L. Ed. 2d 1212 (1968). But there, it is clear that the only basis for the action of state was racial. Here, no one seriously questions that the District would place the plaintiffs in a local facility if one was available.
It is necessary to briefly note how the loss of a facility in the District of Columbia came about. As the record reflects, there was a facility for women until 1966, but at that time the turn of events worked against female inmates, insofar as their placement in or near the District of Columbia is concerned. First, by that time the number of female inmates had dropped to about 40. In addition, the District, because of the Easter decision, found that it required a facility for alcoholics. Thus it came to be that the local facility was closed and female felons were eventually placed at Alderson. The decision then, and the decision now appears to be one of economics and available space.
Today, not only does the District lack a facility for women in or near the District, it is hard placed to find room for male prisoners. In recent years it has given early releases to male prisoners simply to make room for new male prisoners, and as a means of bringing itself into compliance with court orders concerning the number of prisoners that can be confined in a given area. And, while the subject of a facility for female inmates is raised periodically, it never seems to go beyond the stage of discussion. This Court, noting that there has been considerable discussion concerning the building of a new prison facility by the District, to augment its existing facilities, posed a question whether the plan included a facility for women. That question was answered in the negative.
Turning then to the instant case the Court concludes that the plaintiffs have failed to demonstrate that the programs provided for them at Alderson are substantially inferior, or even inferior to those programs provided at Lorton. There is no evidence concerning the nature of the programs provided at Lorton, and there is little or no evidence relating the programs provided at Alderson. Not only have the plaintiffs failed to demonstrate that the vocational and/or educational programs at Lorton, or any facility for men in the District of Columbia metropolitan area is superior to those programs provided at Alderson; it may be that the programs at Alderson are far superior to those provided by the local authorities.
Alderson was opened in 1927 and was the first institution for the incarceration of federal female prisoners. Housing is provided in cottages composed of individual rooms and small dormitories and there are specialized units for inmates with drug abuse and medical problems. Moreover, the Bureau provides for adult basic training and high school programs and there is a degree program through a college. The facility apparently offers programs in data entry, business education, cosmetology and drafting and inmates may complete apprenticeships in over 20 programs including such fields as electrical work, dental assistant training and fabric cutting.
A showing that the programs at Alderson are inferior to those in the local facilities for men is a key part of plaintiffs' case. As noted, the plaintiffs have dismissed their parole claims. The parole claim raises a substantial issue, but that is no longer in the case. Looking at what remains in the case, it is obvious that a showing that programs provided for women are inferior to those provided for men, while not dispositive, would assist plaintiffs in demonstrating that there is a substantial equal protection question raised. Since such a demonstration is an essential part of plaintiffs' case, there is no requirement that the defendants negate the plaintiffs' claims in that regard. Celotex Corporation v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 106 S. Ct. 2548, 91 L. Ed. 2d 265 (1986).
This being the case, the Court must conclude that insofar as a claim that the programs at Alderson are inferior to programs presented at Lorton is concerned, the plaintiffs have failed to meet their burden. Thus, this case differs from Canterino v. Barber, supra, and Glover v. Johnson, supra, because in both cases, although the issue focused on the separate facilities for women in Kentucky and Michigan, the thrust of the actions were directed at programs in prison facilities for women that were substantially inferior to those programs provided for men. The decisions rendered in those cases were based upon those discrepancies in programs and not upon the mere physical location or placement of the women or the distance from their homes. The latter is what is really involved in this case.
Thus, insofar as the plaintiffs' motion is based upon inferior programs at Alderson, it must be denied.
The above is not dispositive of the plaintiffs' motion. Plaintiffs argue that since there is no facility in the District of Columbia area for female District of Columbia Code offenders, it is necessary to place female offenders in Alderson which is approximately 260 miles from the District of Columbia. Therefore, while male District of Columbia Code offenders are placed at Lorton, within 30 miles of the District of Columbia,
where there is easier access to them by their families; female offenders suffer because of the great distance between the District of Columbia and Alderson. Moreover, there is no easy route to Alderson and it is not served by convenient regularly scheduled public transportation.
The question of location has been addressed by the Supreme Court in Olim v. Wakinekona, supra, and this Court concludes that Olim is dispositive of the remaining issues pending before the Court. In Olim the Court recognized the great disadvantage to one placed in a prison facility far from his family, friends and home. It also recognized that the separation by such a great distance might lead to difficulty in making contact with counsel and might result in the interruption of educational, and rehabilitative programs. Nevertheless, the Court concluded that, notwithstanding that the transfer from Hawaii to California involved long distances and an ocean crossing, the confinement remained within constitutional limits. The Supreme Court noted that the difference between such a transfer and an intrastate or interstate transfer of shorter distance was nothing more than "a matter of degree, not of kind" and that the "determining factor is the nature of the interest involved rather than its weight." Olim, 461 U.S. at 247-48, 103 S. Ct. at 1746-47 (citation and footnotes omitted).
The above case is controlling here. All that is involved is location of the prison facility. While there is no question but that it is inconvenient to the plaintiffs and the members of their families, this Court cannot find that they had a justifiable expectation that they would be incarcerated in a facility in the District of Columbia or its metropolitan area. Indeed, the District of Columbia Code provides that the designation of the place of imprisonment is to be made by the Attorney General or his designee, and under the statute the plaintiffs could have been placed much further away than Alderson. The statute provides that: "The Attorney General may designate any available, suitable, and appropriate place, whether maintained by the District of Columbia government, or otherwise, or whether within or without the District of Columbia. D.C. Code Ann. § 24-425 (emphasis the Court's). Moreover, under the same statute, the Attorney General is permitted to transfer prisoners from one institution to another for the well being of the prisoner or to relieve overcrowding or because of other unhealthful conditions.
Based upon the applicable statutes and the decisions of the Supreme Court, the Court concludes that plaintiffs have failed to demonstrate that the defendants have violated their rights under any statute or the Constitution. As a result the plaintiffs' motion for summary judgment must be denied and the defendants' motions for summary judgment must be granted, and this case will be dismissed.
An appropriate order has been issued.
This comes before the Court on the plaintiffs' motion for summary judgment and the defendants motion to dismiss or, in the alternative for summary judgment. After giving careful consideration to the motions, the oppositions thereto, and the record in this case, the Court concludes, for the reasons set forth in the accompanying Opinion that the plaintiffs' motion should be denied and the defendants' motions for summary judgment should be granted.
It is hereby
ORDERED that the plaintiffs' motion for summary judgment is denied, and it is further
ORDERED that the District defendants' motion for summary judgment is granted, and it is further
ORDERED that the Federal defendants' motion for summary judgment is granted, and it is further
ORDERED that this case is dismissed with prejudice.