423 F.Supp. 690 (S.D.Tex. 1976), Civ. A. 76-H-1479, Hill v. Estelle

Docket Nº:Civ. A. 76-H-1479
Citation:423 F.Supp. 690
Party Name:Hill v. Estelle
Case Date:November 16, 1976
Court:United States District Courts, 5th Circuit, Southern District of Texas

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423 F.Supp. 690 (S.D.Tex. 1976)

Thomas E. HILL and Clyde Wade Sewell, Plaintiffs,


W. J. ESTELLE, Jr., Director, Texas Department of Corrections, Defendant.

Civ. A. No. 76-H-1479.

United States District Court, S.D. Texas

Nov. 16, 1976.

Thomas E. Hill and Clyde Wade Sewell pro se.


CARL O. BUE, Jr., District Judge.


Plaintiffs, inmates filing in forma pauperis, seek declaratory and monetary relief under the Civil Rights Act for allegedly discriminatory treatment on the basis of sex. Plaintiffs assert that women prisoners at the Texas Department of Corrections (TDC) have occasional access to telephones and are granted wide discretion in personal standards of grooming. Male prisoners, they submit, do not have telephone privileges, are forced to shave and are compelled to obey a vague, capriciously applied, haircut rule. Plaintiffs claim that the aforementioned prison policies violate the United States Constitution and Texas law.

Because of a prior action filed in this Court and appealed to the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit by

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these two plaintiffs, the Court concludes for reasons hereinafter discussed that plaintiffs' present action is brought with malicious intent to abuse the processes of the Court. Accordingly, this action is dismissed pursuant to 28 U.S.C. s 1915(d) (1966).


A. Comparing the Instant Action with Civil Action 75-H-1858

Plaintiffs Hill and Sewell were both named plaintiffs in a prior lawsuit styled Hill, et al v. Estelle, Civil Action 75-H-1858, in which the Honorable Woodrow Seals granted the Defendant's Motion to Dismiss on January 30, 1976. The case was appealed to the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit which affirmed the decision of Judge Seals on August 20, 1976. 1 Ten days later, on August 30, 1976, this present cause of action was submitted for filing by Hill and Sewell. 2 Even a cursory review and comparison of the complaint considered by Judge Seals and the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals with the instant complaint is sufficient for one to ascertain that the two pleadings are virtually identical in substance and form.

Excluding jurisdictional statements and slight changes in the order of the clauses, the complaints, as submitted, read as follows: 3

1. Civil Action 75-H-1858; The Old Complaint

a. Grooming

(1) Male inmates of TDC are required to wear their hair in a uniform, short. They are not allowed beards, mustaches and only the minimum of sideburns.

(2) Female inmates of TDC are allowed to chose the length, style and even color of their hair. They are given the choice of whether they shave, pluck or allow their facial and body hair to grow.

(3) Female inmates are allowed to decorate and personalize their cells. Male inmates must maintain bare walls and drab cells.

(4) Male inmates are stripped of their usual appearance, thus, suffering a personal defacement, depriving the inmate of his sense of identity and presence.

(5) TDC Rules and Regulations, policies and practices that compel male inmates to wear uniform haircuts and the minimum of

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sideburns, are prison efforts that are dehumanization by forced conformity.

(6) The whole process of cutting male inmates' hair really amounts to a grisly flashback into an age when it was a recognized, accepted practice of penal institutions to disfigure prisoners in some fashion so as to mark him, at least for some period of time, to be held up to scorn by the public.

(7) This depersonalization is an attempt to break down the inmate to an acceptable level of subserviency.

(8) These restrictions are not supportable for reasons of prison sanitation, discipline or morale.

(9) The personal appearance of a person is his right to determine, even in prison, unless the officials can support a contrary regulation by compelling reasons.

(10) Unless prison officials can advance a reason for women prisoners, but not men, to wear long hair, this is a plain violation of the man's right to equal protection of the laws since arbitrary discrimination based on sex is unconstitutional. Fourteenth Amendment of the Constitution of the United States, Equal Protection.

2. Civil Action 76-H-1479; The Present Complaint

a. Grooming

(1) Male prisoners of TDC are required to wear their hair in a uniform manner, short, not exceeding an inch to an inch and a half on top, with only a minimum of sideburns. Beards and mustaches are forbidden.

(2) Female prisoners of TDC are allowed to choose the length, style and even color of their hair. They are given the choice of whether they shave, pluck or allow their facial hair to grow.

(3) Male prisoners on the Ellis Unit who are not working are only allowed to shower and change clothes on Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday.

(4) There are no licensed barbers in TDC. Rule 3.1.4. Haircuts, is by action of the agents of Defendant Estelle, arbitrary and capriciously enforced, this same rule being utilized by the Ellis Unit Disciplinary Committee as a means of punishment. The rule is vague and provides no guidelines as to just what constitutes "good taste" or how "properly" a haircut is.

(5) Male prisoners who have their case on appeal are required to cut their hair short and shave their mustaches and beards even though they may be called back to court, released or retried at...

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