462 F.Supp. 397 (N.D.Cal. 1976), C-73-1422, Wright v. Enomoto

Docket Nº:C-73-1422 SAW.
Citation:462 F.Supp. 397
Party Name:James C. WRIGHT, Jerry Lee Pena, Roberto Pablo Salas, Michael S. Guile, Louis X. Richardson, Roberto Frias, Individually and on behalf of all others similarly situated, Plaintiffs, v. Jiro J. ENOMOTO, Director of the Department of Corrections of the State of California, W. T. Stone, Superintendent of the California Training Facility at Soledad, Jac
Case Date:September 30, 1976
Court:United States District Courts, 9th Circuit

Page 397

462 F.Supp. 397 (N.D.Cal. 1976)

James C. WRIGHT, Jerry Lee Pena, Roberto Pablo Salas, Michael S. Guile, Louis X. Richardson, Roberto Frias, Individually and on behalf of all others similarly situated, Plaintiffs,


Jiro J. ENOMOTO, Director of the Department of Corrections of the State of California, W. T. Stone, Superintendent of the California Training Facility at Soledad, Jacob Gunn, Warden of the California State Prison at Folsom, Robert Rees, Warden of the California State Prison at San Quentin, and L. N. Patterson, Superintendent of the Deuel Vocational Institution, Defendants.

No. C-73-1422 SAW.

United States District Court, D. California.

Sept. 30, 1976

Judgment Affirmed Feb. 21, 1978.

See 434 U.S. 1052, 98 S.Ct. 1223, 55 L.Ed.2d 756.

Page 398

B. E. Bergesen, III, Sidney M. Wolinsky, Vilma S. Martinez, Sanford J. Rosen, Mexican-American Legal Defense & Education Fund, William Bennett Turner, NAACP Legal Defense & Education Fund, Bernard Zimmerman, San Francisco, Cal., James F. Smith, Legal Aid Society of Sacramento County, Sacramento, Cal., for plaintiffs.

Evelle J. Younger, Atty. Gen. of the State of California, Jerome C. Utz, C. Michael Buzzell, Deputy Attys. Gen., San Francisco, Cal., for defendants.

Before DUNIWAY, Circuit Judge, and WOLLENBERG and WEIGEL, District Judges. [*]

WEIGEL, District Judge.


This action was brought by plaintiffs on behalf of themselves and the class of all male prisoners confined or subject to confinement in maximum security at four State of California prisons located, respectively, at San Quentin, Folsom, Soledad and Tracy. Defendants are the wardens of the prisons and the director of the Department of Corrections. 1 The class, certified on February 25, 1976, is divided into three sub-classes: (1) All prisoners confined and/or subject to being confined in maximum security units at the four institutions as a result of disciplinary procedures; (2) all prisoners so confined who have knowingly and voluntarily requested confinement in such units; and (3) all prisoners confined in such units or subject to being so confined who are not included in sub-class (1) or (2). This last sub-class includes those confined for so-called "administrative" reasons.

The complaint alleges two causes of action. The first challenges the procedures resulting in confinement of inmates in maximum security units for "administrative"

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reasons. The second challenges conditions of confinement in the units.

By the motions now before us, plaintiffs seek summary judgment and injunctive relief only on the first cause of action. They claim that defendants' applicable rules, practices and procedures violate the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. 2

Plaintiffs claim that defendants act arbitrarily in purporting to conform to their own standards for administrative segregation, I. e., That the inmate constitutes a danger to himself, or to other inmates, or to the staff. 3 The main thrust of plaintiffs' claims lies in their allegations that, in purporting to apply the relevant standards, defendants have denied plaintiffs: Written notice of the charges against them; an opportunity to present witnesses and documentary evidence; an opportunity to confront and cross-examine adverse witnesses; representation by counsel or counsel-substitute; and a written decision stating reasons for confinement in maximum security units. Plaintiffs seek injunctive relief requiring defendants to provide these procedural protections. They also seek expungement from their prison records of any reference to their confinement in maximum security units unless the decision leading to the confinement was made in accordance with the demanded procedures.

Plaintiffs have filed forty-seven affidavits from prisoners confined in maximum security segregation for administrative reasons. Those affidavits, Which are not contradicted, establish the facts we now summarize.

A. The conditions in maximum security units

Prisoners in the maximum security units are confined in cells approximately five feet wide by eight feet long. The cells are without fresh air or daylight, both ventilation and lighting being poor. The lights in some cells are controlled by guards. It is difficult for prisoners to get needed medical attention. They must eat in their cells or not at all. They are allowed very limited exercise and virtually no contact with other prisoners. They cannot participate in vocational programs. They are denied those entertainment privileges provided for the general prison population. Parole is usually denied to them until after release from maximum security segregation. 4

It is clear, then, that a prisoner confined in a maximum security unit suffers a loss of liberty much more severe than that experienced by a prisoner in the general prison population. See Spain v. Procunier, 408 F.Supp. 534 (N.D.Cal.1976); Clutchette v. Procunier, 328 F.Supp. 767 (N.D.Cal.1971), Aff'd, 497 F.2d 809 (9th Cir. 1974), Modified, 510 F.2d 613 (9 Cir. 1975), Rev'd in part on other grounds, Baxter v. Palmigiano, 425 U.S. 308, 96 S.Ct. 1551, 47 L.Ed.2d 810 (1976).

B. The procedures used in ordering administrative segregation

A so-called Classification Committee in each institution is empowered to order prisoners transferred from the general prison population to maximum security for administrative reasons. The Committee is composed of the warden, two associate wardens, the chief psychiatrist, a program administrator and a correctional counselor. Any three members constitute a quorum. The

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warden has discretion to designate other members of the staff as permanent or temporary members. Defendants' Exhibit A, Department of Corrections Rules and Regulations, Ch. 4, filed Feb. 1, 1976.

Defendants have consistently confined prisoners in maximum security segregation for administrative reasons without first giving them any meaningful hearing. Typically, the inmate is transferred to a maximum security unit before he is brought before the Classification Committee. In many cases, prisoners have been confined in solitary for days sometimes for weeks before any hearing. In some cases, inmates have been so confined and not told the reasons, even informally, until appearance before the Committee.

The vagaries and irregularities of defendants' practices are illustrated by the following excerpts from affidavits submitted by plaintiffs (all uncontradicted as noted earlier).

On November 7, 1973, I was taken to North Segregation Unit . . . where I remained confined for about 21/2 months.

I have never been involved in violence or convicted of any crimes during my 32 months at San Quentin. . . .

On November 7, 1973, I was taken from my cell in the Mainline to the North Segregation Unit for no reason at all. No formal charges were brought against me. I, along with other Black Muslims, who were also taken from the Mainline, was told that I was being confined . . . for "institutional convenience." We were told that we were becoming too militant; that we spent too much time in the yard by ourselves. . . .

On November 14th, one week after being sent to (maximum security), I met with the Classification Committee. . . . I was . . . told . . . that they would lock me up "until they figured out what to do with us". . . . I was not told anything more specific. The meeting with the Committee lasted about five minutes. . . .

Affidavit of William E. X. Richmond,

Plaintiffs' Exhibit 19.

In December of 1972 I was removed from an honor wing . . . and placed in (maximum security). I was told by a two-man classification committee that I was a threat to other inmates and to myself, that they'd gone through my jacket (I. e. The affiant's...

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