365 F.2d 428 (4th Cir. 1966), 10441, Howard v. Smyth

Docket Nº:10441.
Citation:365 F.2d 428
Party Name:William HOWARD, Appellant, v. W. Frank SMYTH, Jr., Director, Virginia Division of Corrections, Appellee.
Case Date:August 09, 1966
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit

Page 428

365 F.2d 428 (4th Cir. 1966)

William HOWARD, Appellant,


W. Frank SMYTH, Jr., Director, Virginia Division of Corrections, Appellee.

No. 10441.

United States Court of Appeals, Fourth Circuit.

Aug. 9, 1966

Argued May 4, 1966.

Page 429

Wilbur C. Allen, Richmond, Va. (Court-assigned counsel) (Allen, Allen, Allen & Allen, Richmond, Va., on brief), for appellant.

Reno S. Harp, III, Asst. Atty. Gen. of Virginia (Robert Y. Button, Atty. Gen. of Virginia, on brief), for appellee.

Before HAYNSWORTH, Chief Judge, SOBELOFF, Circuit Judge, and FIELD, District Judge.

SOBELOFF, Circuit Judge:

William Howard petitioned the District Court to order his release from the maximum security ward of the Virginia State Penitentiary, where he has been confined for four years, and to allow him to rejoin the rest of the prison population. After an evidentiary hearing, the District Court denied the requested relief, and Howard appealed.

Petitioner has been incarcerated in the Virginia prison system since 1956, having been sentenced for armed robbery, and is scheduled for normal discharge without benefit of parole on February 24, 1967. He has been confined in the maximum security ward, known as 'C' building, since August 7, 1962.

The prison officials argue that confinement in the maximum security ward is not 'punishment' but merely 'segregation,' and that therefore courts have no power to interfere with their decision to confine an inmate in maximum security. We do not accept this argument. While confinement in 'C' building is not as harsh as solitary confinement, the District Court noted that the prisoner's 'institutional privileges are severely limited,' whether the confinement be described as 'punishment' or 'segregation.' Prisoners in 'C' building are not permitted to work and earn money; they are allowed only two meals a day, and are deprived of radio, television, and movie privileges; they do not have access to the library and are not permitted to attend educational classes; they are allowed to bathe only once a week, as opposed to daily bathing allowed other prisoners. It is also highly significant

Page 430

that the Parole Board declines to consider as eligible for parole any prisoner who is confined in the maximum security ward. These deprivations cannot be treated as insubstantial.

The circumstances which led to petitioner's confinement...

To continue reading