Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Official citation and/or docket number and footnotes (if any) for this case available with purchase.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

UNITED STATES v. DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA

UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA


December 16, 1988

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff
v.
DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA, et al., Defendants

Thomas F. Hogan, United States District Judge.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: HOGAN

THOMAS F. HOGAN, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

MEMORANDUM OPINION

 This action is before the Court on defendants' Motion to Alter or Amend Judgment and for Clarification, plaintiff's Motion to Implement Order of November 10, 1988, and defendants' Response to Plaintiff's Motion for Bi-weekly Reporting.

 This most recent set of pleadings refers to the Court's Memorandum Opinion in this case issued on November 10, 1988. The incidents giving rise to the underlying action began on October 4, 1988, when the District of Columbia announced that it would no longer accept newly sentenced prisoners into the District of Columbia Department of Corrections. The United States filed its complaint for declaratory and injunctive relief and its motions for a temporary restraining order and for a preliminary injunction on October 6, 1988. After an emergency hearing, the Court denied plaintiff's motion for a temporary restraining order. On October 12, 1988, plaintiff moved for consolidation of the hearing on the preliminary injunction with the trial on the merits, pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 65(a)(2), and amended its pleadings to seek a permanent injunction. The Court granted plaintiff's motion pursuant to its bench opinion of October 17, 1988. On November 10, 1988, the Court issued its Memorandum Opinion and Order in this case. The Order of the Court reads as follows:

 Upon Consideration of the United States' petition for declaratory relief and permanent injunction and the entire record herein, and in accordance with the accompanying Memorandum Opinion, it is this 10th day of November, 1988, hereby

 ORDERED that the United States' petition for declaratory and injunctive relief is hereby GRANTED in part; and it is

 FURTHER ORDERED that the District of Columbia is hereby enjoined from refusing to accept into the District of Columbia Department of Corrections facilities all newly sentenced adult male prisoners whom the Attorney General duly designated to the District of Columbia Department of Corrections pursuant to his authority under D.C. Code § 24-425, provided that such designation would not cause the specifically designated facilities to exceed their population capacities as set by court order; and it is

 FURTHER ORDERED that the District of Columbia must immediately undertake all feasible measures to provide space for all adult male prisoners sentenced hereafter by the Superior Court, and it is

 FURTHER ORDERED that the Court shall retain continuing jurisdiction over this matter; and it is

 FURTHER ORDERED that this order shall be stayed until November 14, 1988.

 The District filed its Motion to Alter or Amend Judgment and for Clarification on November 16, 1988. On November 22, 1988, the United States filed its Motion to Implement Order of November 10, 1988. At the District's request, on November 23, 1988, the Court held an expedited hearing on the motions and issued an immediate oral ruling from the bench, indicating that this written opinion would follow. In the bench opinion, the Court gave the District leave to file a response to the Government's requested reporting requirement. The District filed it's Response to Plaintiff's Motion for Bi-weekly Reporting on November 28, 1988.

 In its Motion to Alter or Amend Judgment and for Clarification and in its oral argument, the District presents three issues meriting discussion. First, the District submits that "specific figures" for institutions currently, without Court-ordered population caps "should be set by the Court if the parties are unable to agree through negotiation." Defendant's Motion to Alter or Amend at 7. In the interim, the District unilaterally proposes specific figures for the Modular Facility, the Minimum Security Facility and its Annex, and the Occoquan Facilities. Id. Second, the District asserts that paragraph three of the Court's Order "requires clarification because the Attorney General does not designate specific facilities within the Department of Corrections where prisoners are to be housed and because judicially mandated population limits do not exist at all institutions within the District's Correctional system that house such prisoners." Defendant's Motion to Alter or Amend at 4. Third, the District seeks to alter or amend paragraph four of the Court's Order, alleging that the Court's requirement that the District "immediately undertake all feasible measures to provide space for all adult male prisoners sentenced hereafter by the Superior Court" is a political question that "represents an ambiguous command that overreaches the Court's authority." Defendant's Motion to Alter or Amend at 4, 7.

 In its Motion to Implement Order of November 10, 1988, the Government opposes the District's suggested alterations to this Court's Order and specifically defends paragraph four of the Order, alleging that "[i]t is eminently reasonable for the Court to condition any requirement that the United States assume responsibility for physically housing sentenced D.C. prisoners on the District's demonstrating that it has undertaken reasonable efforts to house those prisoners itself, as the Court has found Congress plainly intended." Plaintiff's Motion to Implement at 3. Rather than vacating paragraph four, the Government urges the Court to "act affirmatively to implement the November 10 order in two fundamental ways." Id. at 4. First, the Government requests that the District be required to provide to the Court and to the United States bi-weekly reports detailing the current distribution of prisoners within its correctional system and explaining the current status of all feasible measures undertaken to provide space for adult male sentenced prisoners. Id. Second, the Government asks the Court to implement a system whereby the District can raise a challenge under the Administrative Procedure Act, at the appropriate time, to the Attorney General's designation of prisoners to the D.C. Department of Corrections. The proposed mechanism would prevent the District from unilaterally closing its prisons absent a Court order. In the event that the District were to contend "that it [could not] accept designated prisoners without violating a court-approved population ceiling, the District [would be required to] challenge the Attorney General's decision under the APA through a motion filed with the Court, at which time the District [would have to] demonstrate, at a minimum, that it [could not] take additional sentenced prisoners without being forced to violate a court order and that it has in good faith exhausted all feasible steps to provide space to house sentenced D.C. prisoners itself." Id. at 4-5.

 Finally, in its Response to Plaintiff's Motion for Bi-weekly Reporting, the District suggests that it be allowed to submit an ex parte, sealed first Report to the Court "detailing possible policy, legislative and construction plans for addressing the issue of increased prison capacity." Defendants' Response at 1. In addition, the District challenges the bi-weekly reporting system proposed by the Government and suggests instead a monthly reporting schedule.

 In accordance with the bench opinion issued on November 10, 1988, and upon consideration of the parties' motions and responses, oral arguments of counsel, and the entire record herein, the Court shall (1) deny the District's request that the Court establish population limits on facilities that are currently without Court-ordered caps; (2) grant the District's request to clarify paragraph three of the Court's November 10, 1988 Order as to the Attorney General's designation of the District of Columbia Department of Corrections as a whole; (3) deny the District's request to vacate paragraph four of the Court's November 10, 1988 Order; (4) grant the Government's request to add a reporting requirement to the initial Order; and (5) grant the Government's request to add to the November 10, 1988 Order a mechanism through which the District may challenge the Attorney General's Designation decisions under the Administrative Procedure Act.

 I. District's Request that the Court Establish New Population Caps

 The Court declines the District's invitation to establish population caps on facilities currently without Court-ordered population ceilings. None of the inmates at those institutions is a party to this action and the District lacks standing to raise the issue of potential violations of prisoners' Eighth Amendment rights. The District's request is unprecedented. Affected inmates have been parties in all prior cases in which population limits on District of Columbia correctional facilities were set either by judicial order or by consent decree. E.g., Campbell v. McGruder, Civil Action No. 71-1462 (D.D.C.); Twelve John Does v. D.C., Civil Action No. 80-2136 (D.D.C.). Moreover, the Court lacks a factual record from which it could derive maximum population figures. The Court will thus refrain from arbitrarily establishing population limits that would enable the District to further shirk its obligation to provide housing for adult male prisoners sentenced in the Superior Court.

 II. District's Request that the Court Clarify Paragraph Three of the Order

 The District contends that the Court is under the mistaken impression that the Attorney General designates specific facilities within the District of Columbia Department of Corrections where prisoners are to be housed. As the Court makes clear throughout its Opinion *fn1" , the Court is well aware that when the Attorney General assigns prisoners to the D.C. system (as opposed to the federal system) pursuant to D.C. Code § 24-425, the Attorney General designates the D.C. Department of Corrections as a whole as the facility of confinement and the District then designates specific facilities of incarceration pursuant to its standard intake procedures. Nevertheless, the Court recognizes that some ambiguity may exist that could enable the District to claim that the Attorney General's designation of the D.C. Department of Corrections is arbitrary and capricious because such designation would cause various individual facilities to exceed population ceilings set not by the Courts or by consent decrees, but by the District itself. To the extent that any confusion remains, the Court will clarify the third paragraph of its Order to read:

 FURTHER ORDERED that the District of Columbia is hereby enjoined from refusing to accept into the District of Columbia Department of Corrections facilities all newly sentenced adult male prisoners whom the Attorney General duly designates to the District of Columbia Department of Corrections pursuant to his authority under D.C. Code § 24-425, provided that such designation would not cause the District, through its subsequent designation of specific facilities, to violate existing court decrees or the Constitutional rights of affected prisoners.

 III. District's Request that the Court Vacate Paragraph Four of the Order

 The District requests that the Court vacate the fourth paragraph of its Order requiring the District to "immediately undertake all feasible measures to provide space for all adult male prisoners sentenced hereafter by the Superior Court." The Court declines to vacate that portion of its ruling.

 First, the District contends that Congress has impeded its efforts to create new facilities and that other measures the District has undertaken to provide space for adult male prisoners have met political obstacles. This weak rendition of the "impossibility defense" that the District raises in response to the Court's order has been held unavailable to the District in comparable litigation. Twelve John Does v. D.C. Civil Action No. 88-5254 slip op. at 9 (D.C. Cir. November 18, 1988) ("This court has already ruled that political obstacles do not reach the lack of power due to circumstances beyond one's control necessary to constitute an impossibility defense"). This Court is no more swayed by the District's argument of "impossibility" than was the D.C. Circuit in its ruling issued just four days before this Court's hearing on the instant motions.

 The District's dilatory response to its prison crisis is well documented. As the Court recounted in its Memorandum Opinion *fn2" , for over ten years Judge Bryant has chronicled the District's intransigent refusal adequately and expeditiously to expand its prison capacity. Over ten year ago, Judge Bryant listed the litany of constitutional abuses at the old D.C. Jail. Campbell v. McGruder, 416 F. Supp. 100 (D.D.C. 1975). Yet, despite the Court's findings and subsequent orders, the deplorable conditions persisted. Six months after his ruling, Judge Bryant found that "defendants have failed to take reasonable and obvious steps to alleviate overcrowding." Campbell v. McGruder, 416 F. Supp. 111 (D.D.C. 1976). Nine years later, despite the construction of a new D.C. Jail, Judge Bryant was forced to conclude that the District's cavalier attitude still had not changed. Campbell v. McGruder, Civil Action No. 71-1462, Memorandum and Order at 50 (D.D.C. July 15, 1985) ("Time and time again, defendants have requested the court to defer to their accumulated wisdom, to stay its hand, to give them more time. . . . However, instead of matters improving they have deteriorated).

 Most recently, Judge Mikva described at length the District's lax efforts to cure its prison crisis. In his November 18, 1988, decision in Twelve John Does, Judge Mikva provides the most recent D.C. Circuit review of the District's "apathetic" response to overcrowding in its prison system, its "intransigence" in the face of consent decrees, its "sorry record of dereliction," its "lack of creativity in fashioning ways to reduce overcrowding," and its "relentless recalcitrance." Twelve John Does at 13. The Court further observed that the District is seemingly more interested in precipitating crises than in resolving them. Id. at 8. After years of federal court judges' declaring that the District has not done enough, the Court finds the District's most recent claim that it has done all it can at this time not supported by the record. *fn3"

 Second, the District urges the Court to vacate paragraph four of its order because the order involves a "political question" unsuited to judicial intervention. The District's invocation of the political question doctrine is misplaced and easily dismissed. The District appears to be suggesting that because the necessity of allocating funds to permit it to take all feasible steps to house its own prisoners involves the allocation of financial resources among competing needs, a federal court is displaced by the political question doctrine from ordering the District to take such steps as a condition to refusing to house its prisoners. As the Government correctly observes, "if that were true, a court could never impose upon a municipality any obligation which would indirectly require the municipality to expend its fund." Plaintiff's Motion to Implement at 11. Such a court order, devoid of means of implementation, would be meaningless. Moreover, the Court's order requiring the District to undertake "all feasible measures" is a necessary condition of the District's subsequent right to contend that the Attorney General must designate prisoners to federal facilities because no "available, suitable, and appropriate" facilities exist within the District within the meaning of D.C. Code § 24-425. The Court thus finds that it is within its authority to give force to its opinion by ordering the District to take appropriate measures, many of which the District itself has previously proposed.

 IV. Government's Request that the Court Implement a Reporting Requirement

 The Government suggests that the Court implement a reporting requirement that would enable the Court to monitor the District's compliance with its order. The Court has made a commitment to retain continuing jurisdiction over this matter. As the Court noted in its Memorandum Opinion, it will no longer countenance the District's efforts to "hide behind the guise of court-ordered population ceilings at various facilities, lock the doors of those facilities, and then abdicate responsibility for housing newly sentenced District prisoners in the D.C. system as a whole." Memorandum Opinion at 28-29. The Government's proposed reporting requirement provides a useful aid to the Court's effort to end the "game of chicken," as Judge Mikva so aptly describes, that the District has for so long forced upon the Government. Twelve John Does at 8.

 While the District objects to "a number of categories of suggested reporting topics" as burdensome, the District provides no specific critique of the Government's suggested topics. In light of the District's lack of constructive response, the Court will adopt in part the Government's proposed list. The District and the Government shall file with the Court, by December 22, 1988, a jointly-proposed report format. If one is not agreed upon, the District shall file its proposed report format on December 22, 1988, and the Court will consider whether or not the format is appropriate after comment by the parties. In either event, beginning on January 3, 1989, the District shall file its monthly reports on the first business day of each month. The first report will be a plenary report, much of which will simply require updating, not replication, each month thereafter. The Court denies the District's request that the Reports be filed ex parte and under seal and instructs the District to make separate applications to the Court on a monthly basis if it deems "sensitive" specific documents or information requested in the report. The District's specific monthly reporting requirements are detailed in the Order accompanying this Opinion.

 V. Government's Request that the Court Establish a Procedure Under Which the District Can Raise APA Challenges to the Attorney General's Designation of the D.C. Department of Corrections

 Finally, the Government proposes that the Court establish a procedure under which the District can challenge, under the Administrative Procedure Act, the Attorney General's designation of the D.C. Department of Corrections as an "available, suitable, and appropriate" institution of confinement within the meaning of D.C. Code § 24-425. As the Court made clear in its Memorandum Opinion, and again in its bench opinion of November 23, 1988, the District is prohibited from unilaterally shutting down its prison system without first obtaining the Court's approval at a hearing before the Court or before an available judge. Bench Opinion of November 23, 1988, Transcript at 50. In order to prevent the scheduling of emergency hearings, the District must estimate the projected population of each of its facilities in advance, and calculate the number of prisoners it can move to other states, release early, release on bond, move to halfway houses, and transfer to other facilities prior to requesting a Court hearing. The specific procedures that the parties must follow in the event that the District wishes to challenge the Attorney General's designation of sentenced D.C. prisoners to the D.C. Department of Corrections are detailed in the Order accompanying this Opinion.

 In the event that the District fails to comply with Court ordered reporting requirements or APA review procedural requirements, the Court will not hesitate to impose sanctions.

 An Order consistent with the foregoing conclusions accompanies this Memorandum Opinion.

 IMPLEMENTATION ORDER

 THOMAS F. HOGAN, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

 Upon consideration of the District's Motion to Alter or Amend Judgment and for Clarification, the Government's Motion to Implement Order of November 10, 1988, and the District's Response to Plaintiff's Motion for Bi-weekly Reporting, and in accordance with the Court's Bench Opinion of November 23, 1988, and the Memorandum Opinion issued herewith, it is this 16th day of December, 1988,

 ORDERED that the Court hereby

 (1) denies the District's request that the Court establish population limits on facilities that are currently without Court-ordered caps;

 (2) grants the District's request to clarify paragraph three of the Court's November 10, 1988 Order with respect to the Attorney General's designation of the District of Columbia Department of Corrections as a whole; paragraph three will now read:

 FURTHER ORDERED that the District of Columbia is hereby enjoined from refusing to accept into the District of Columbia Department of Corrections facilities all newly sentenced adult male prisoners whom the Attorney General duly designates to the District of Columbia Department of Corrections pursuant to his authority under D.C. Code § 24-425, provided that such designation would not cause the District, through its subsequent designation of specific facilities, to violate existing court decrees or the Constitutional rights of affected prisoners.

 (3) denies the District's request to vacate paragraph four of the Court's November 10, 1988 Order;

 (4) grants the Government's request to add a reporting requirement to the initial Order; the parties shall file with the Court a jointly-proposed report format by December 22, 1988; if agreement is not reached as to the report's format, the District shall file its proposed report format on December 22, 1988, and the Court will consider whether or not the format is appropriate after comment by the parties; in either event, beginning on January 3, 1989, the District shall file on the first business day of each month a report detailing:

 a. Current population figures in the D.C. correctional system, including figures on D.C. prisoners housed in other jurisdictions under contracts or under other arrangements; the figures shall be organized by categories of prisoners (i.e. misdemeanants, pretrial detainees, etc.);

 b. Projected weekly population figures for the upcoming month in the D.C. correctional system, including figures on D.C. prisoners expected to be housed in other jurisdictions under contracts or under other arrangements, and projected 60 day and 90 day figures, including net population gains and losses and plans for housing any net increase in population over the next 60 to 90 days;

 c. The current status of, and a detailed proposed construction schedule for, the treatment facility to be constructed at the site of the old D.C. Jail, including any explanation for current delays in planning or construction of that facility;

 d. The status of all renovations or other construction at Central, Occoquan or other facilities, including detailed schedules of all construction currently under way or planned and a detailed description of any additional proposed construction or renovation;

 e. All measures taken by the District to date to identify sites in the District of Columbia for the construction of additional permanent prison facilities, including a detailed explanation of why any particular proposed sites have been rejected;

 f. A list of all vacant or abandoned property owned by the District government within the District of Columbia of 10 acres or more, and a list of any vacant or abandoned federal property the District has been offered or has determined would be appropriate for prison facilities, including, inter alia, military or national guard properties;

 g. All steps taken to contact state or local jurisdictions to house D.C. prisoners, including the number of D.C. prisoners housed in each jurisdiction with whom the District currently has an agreement, the identity of each additional jurisdiction with whom the District has had discussions within the past year, the current status of all such discussions, and a specific explanation of why any state with whom such discussions were unsuccessful was not willing to accept D.C. prisoners;

 h. All steps taken to contact private entities in an attempt to enter into agreements to house D.C. prisoners, including the identity of all such private entities with whom the District has had contact or discussions, the current status of all such discussions, and a specific explanation of why any private entity with whom such discussion were unsuccessful was not willing to contract with the District;

 i. The status of the District's use of the Prison Overcrowding Emergency Powers Act, including the dates of each emergency declaration under the Act since January 1, 1987, and the number of prisoners released under each declaration, and the current status of any contemplated expansion or contraction of the Act, including any proposed legislation relating to it;

 j. The projected number of prisoners that will be released weekly over the upcoming month under the Prison Overcrowding Emergency Powers Act or under other relevant statutory provisions;

 k. A description and the status of any other proposed District of Columbia legislation relating to prison overcrowding, including copies of all such legislative proposals or drafts of legislative proposals, and specifically including a detailed description of the current status of the District's consideration of any proposal to post bond for or otherwise effectuate release of prisoners eligible for pretrial release and a detailed report of any actions taken by the City Council since October 4, 1988 to help alleviate overcrowding;

 l. A description and the status of any legislative proposal to the United States Congress relating to D.C. prison overcrowding currently under consideration or discussion by the District, including copies of all such legislative proposals or drafts of such legislative proposals;

 m. The status of all consideration or construction of community centers or halfway house facilities, including a detailed description of each such facility under consideration or construction (including detailed construction schedules) and the capacity of each facility under consideration or construction;

 n. The status of the District's electronic monitoring program(s) including present plans or schedules for such program(s) and the number of prisoners currently in such program(s);

 o. The status of any considerations relating to the use of modular or temporary housing at Lorton or elsewhere, including a detailed explanation of why the proposed use of modular housing at or proximate to the D.C. Jail, at Lorton, or at any vacant D.C. property located in the District of Columbia, has not been adopted or effected by the District;

 p. The status of any discussion or consideration relating to the construction of a facility to house D.C. prisoners at a site in West Virginia in exchange for the transfer of all or part of the property at Lorton;

 q. The status of any discussion or consideration of utilizing, on a temporary or permanent basis, land or facilities at St. Elizabeths Hospital for housing D.C. prisoners, including a detailed explanation of why any such proposals have been rejected by the District;.

 (5) grants the Government's request to add to the November 10, 1988 Order a mechanism through which the District may challenge the Attorney General's Designation decisions under the Administrative Procedure Act; the parties will henceforth utilize the following procedure:

 a. If the District wishes to contest the decision of the Attorney General to designate D.C. prisoners to the D.C. Department of Corrections, the District shall present such a challenge in a written motion to the Court, served on counsel for plaintiff, ten days prior to the requested hearing;

 b. Prior to the Court's ruling on the District's motion, either on a temporary or permanent basis, the District must continue to comply with the Court's November 10, 1988 Order by accepting into the D.C. Department of Corrections all newly sentenced adult male prisoners whom the Attorney General duly designates to the D.C. Department of Corrections pursuant to D.C. Code § 24-425;

 c. In its motion, the District must demonstrate: (1) why it believes that the Attorney General's decision is in violation of the Court's November 10, 1988 Order, (2) why and how such designation will force the District to exceed one or more court-approved population caps at the District's prison facilities, (3) whether the District contends that such designation will result in the violation of any constitutional right, and if so precisely which right and how it allegedly will be violated, (4) why such designation is arbitrary, capricious, or otherwise not in accordance with law under the APA, and (5) that the District has undertaken all feasible measures to provide space for all adult male prisoners sentenced by the Superior Court;

 d. In addition, in order to prevent the scheduling of emergency hearings, the District must estimate the projected population of each of its facilities in advance, and calculate the number of prisoners it can move to other states, release early, release on bond, move to halfway houses, and transfer to other facilities. The District shall include this information in its motion prior to requesting a Court hearing;

 e. The United States shall have five days within which to respond to the District's motion, unless that time is modified by the Court upon the motion of either party.

 f. Both parties shall include in their pleadings a list of witnesses whom they intend to call at the hearing; the list shall include the expected nature and length of the witnesses' proposed testimony.


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Official citation and/or docket number and footnotes (if any) for this case available with purchase.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.