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UNITED STATES v. 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 ...


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