553 F.2d 373 (5th Cir. 1977), 76-1289, Smith v. Sullivan

Docket Nº:76-1289.
Citation:553 F.2d 373
Party Name:Richard B. SMITH, Plaintiff-Appellee, v. Sheriff Mike SULLIVAN et al., Defendants-Appellants. Hector Salvida AMAYA, Plaintiff-Appellee, v. Sheriff Mike SULLIVAN et al., Defendants-Appellants.
Case Date:May 19, 1977
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit
 
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Page 373

553 F.2d 373 (5th Cir. 1977)

Richard B. SMITH, Plaintiff-Appellee,

v.

Sheriff Mike SULLIVAN et al., Defendants-Appellants.

Hector Salvida AMAYA, Plaintiff-Appellee,

v.

Sheriff Mike SULLIVAN et al., Defendants-Appellants.

No. 76-1289.

United States Court of Appeals, Fifth Circuit

May 19, 1977

Page 374

George N. Rodriguez, Jr., County Atty., Alan Nasits, Asst. County Atty., El Paso, Tex., for defendants-appellants.

Bruce J. Ponder, Ruth E. Kern, El Paso, Tex., for plaintiff-appellee.

Page 375

Hector Amaya, pro se.

Appeal from the United States District Court for the Western District of Texas.

Before AINSWORTH and CLARK, Circuit Judges, and HUGHES, [*] District Judge.

HUGHES, District Judge:

This civil rights suit considers conditions of life experienced by inmates of the El Paso County jail. The plaintiffs, Richard B. Smith and others are inmates at the El Paso County jail. They have brought these actions for themselves and as representatives comprising all the inmates of the jail.

The defendants are El Paso County officials charged with responsibility for the maintenance and supervision of the jail; Mike Sullivan, sheriff, T. Udell Moore, county judge, Sam Blackham, ex-county commissioner, Richard Telles, Clyde Anderson, Rogelio Sanchez and Chuck Mattox, County Commissioners. The United States of America was defendant in a third case.

All three cases were combined in one class action and after notice to class members the issues were tried before the Court. Jurisdiction was acquired pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1343 which authorizes a federal district court to hear actions under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 to redress any deprivation, under color of state law, of any right, privilege or immunity secured by the Constitution. The plaintiffs seek declaratory and injunctive relief under 28 U.S.C. § 2201 against certain acts, practices, policies and conditions at the El Paso County jail.

Plaintiffs complained that the defendants have deprived them of rights protected by the 1st, 8th and 14th Amendments to the Constitution of the United States. In addition, plaintiffs contend that the defendants have failed to comply with Article 5115 of Vernon's Annotated Texas Civil Statutes regarding the operation and supervision of the county jail.

After a trial without a jury, the district judge, William S. Sessions, filed Findings of Fact in which he found that the practices and conditions in the maintenance and operation of the jail deprived the inmates of rights guaranteed under the First, Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments and by 42 U.S.C., sec. 1983.

He found in part there were no programs for exercise and recreation, programs for education and rehabilitation were inadequate, medical care was insufficient, meals were inappropriately served, supplies were insufficient, facilities inadequate and not maintained, inmates were subjected to cruel treatment by other inmates and neglect by jail personnel, there was a failure to separate younger from older inmates or the convicted from the unconvicted, the disciplinary program was insufficient, and the physical lay-out of the jail failed to comply with the provisions of Art. 5115 of Vernon's Annotated Texas Civil Statutes.

With regard to the financial resources, the District Court found that under a contract between the Director of the Bureau of Prisons and the County of El Paso the federal government paid the county approximately $300,000 a year and the balance came from the County General Fund.

Thereupon on September 25, 1975, the District Judge entered his judgment in which the following program was ordered initiated by January 19, 1976.

  1. An exercise and recreation program under which (a) each prisoner is taken into sunlight and fresh air at least once each day, and (b) each prisoner is given an opportunity to engage in physical exercise and recreation at least once each day.

  2. An education and rehabilitation program under which all prisoners shall (a) be provided with adequate reading material, (b) be afforded frequent and regular opportunities for legal, religious or personal counseling, (c) be provided free access, during daylight hours, to an area other than his bunk, (d) each prisoner who is certain or likely to be a prisoner for more than sixty days shall be given a choice

    Page 376

    among several vocational training courses, and (e) shall be afforded an opportunity to attend religious services on a regularly scheduled basis.

  3. A medical program under which (a) each incoming prisoner is given a medical examination within 36 hours after arrival, (b) prisoners who are sick or injured from whatever cause are given a medical examination by a licensed physician immediately after the sickness or injury is reported, and (c) physician-prescribed medications are provided to inmates as ordered by the physician.

  4. A food service program under which (a) meals served to prisoners are served hot, (b) at least one fresh green vegetable, one fresh yellow vegetable, and one serving of meat, or protein-provided meat substitute, is served to each prisoner each day, and (c) adequate clean utensils and serving vessels are provided for each prisoner.

  5. A supply and facilities program under which (a) clean towels and toilet paper are never unavailable to prisoners, (b) a clean blanket, clean mattress cover, mattress and bunk are never unavailable to each prisoner, (c) no toilet, urinal, shower, washbowl or other plumbing facility is ever out of order for more than 24 hours, (d) adequate hot and cold water is available, (e) supplies necessary for prisoners to maintain themselves in sanitary condition are always available, and (f) one toilet, one shower bath, and one combined lavatory and drinking fountain are provided for each twelve prisoners or fraction thereof confined in any area.

  6. A jail personnel, safety and supervision program under which (a) every area holding prisoners is visited each hour of the 24-hour day, (b) a communications system whereby any prisoner may call for help from a guard at any time and receive the same within a few minutes, (c) each floor of the jail shall have at least one non-prisoner guard available at all times, and (d) jail personnel are paid on the same scale as patrol personnel of the Sheriff's Department.

  7. A ventilation and lighting program under which (a) temperatures within prisoner enclosures are within the temperature range of 65o F. to 85o F., and (b) lighting in areas available to prisoners is, during daylight hours, adequate for reading purposes.

  8. A separation of prisoner program under which (a) those under 18 years of age are always separated from others, (b) witnesses are always separated from others, males are always separated from females, (d) first offenders awaiting trial are always separated from all classifications of convicted prisoners, and (e) prisoners with communicable or contagious diseases are always separated from all others.

  9. A disciplinary program under which (a) jail rules and regulations, as well as prisoners' rights with respect to violations, are effectively made known to all prisoners and (b) disciplinary procedures shall comply in all respects with Wolff v. McDonnell, 418 U.S. 539, 94 S.Ct. 2963, 41 L.Ed.2d 935 (1974).

    Defendants were likewise enjoined effective September 1, 1977, from further violating the provisions of Article 5115 and the Commissioner's Court was directed to provide on or before said date an outdoor area for exercise.

    The District Judge did not enter any order directing action by the United States or dismissing it from the case. Further consideration should be given to disposing of the case against the United States.

    On December 30, 1975, a motion was filed by the defendants to stay the judgment, based primarily on lack of funds to make the necessary improvements. In denying the motion on January 19, 1976, the Court modified the judgment so as to require the defendants to submit written plans within 30 days for full compliance of certain requirements and in respect to others 60 days.

    Page 377

    In response to the modified judgment requiring certain improvements within 30 days the sheriff reported on February 23, 1976, compliance with the following requirements of the judgment of September 25, 1975: adequate reading material, meals served to prisoners hot, certain menu for meals, adequate clean utensils and serving vessels, sufficient supply of clean towels and toilet paper, availability of clean blankets and mattress covers, adequate maintenance of toilets, showers, wash bowls and other plumbing facilities, availability of hot and cold water, supplies for prisoners to maintain themselves in a sanitary condition, separation of prisoners, a disciplinary program, program under which all prisoners are afforded frequent and regular opportunities for legal, religious or personal counseling, program for giving prisoners likely to be incarcerated more than 60 days a choice among several vocational training courses, an opportunity to attend religious services on a regular basis, and adequate medical program.

    In response to those items requiring the Defendants to submit written plans for full compliance within 60 days, the Defendants reported to the District Court on March 26, 1976, partly as follows:

    2A. An exercise and recreation program under which:

    (1) each prisoner is taken into the sunlight and fresh air at least once each day

    had not been provided due to lack of space in the present structure;

    (2) each prisoner is given an opportunity to engage in physical exercise and recreation at least once each day

    had not been implemented due to a manpower shortage making supervision impossible.

    D. A jail personnel and supervision program where every area holding prisoners is visited each hour of the 24-hour day by a jail guard

    has not been fully implemented due to lack of funds provided to the sheriff.

    G. A ventilation and lighting program under...

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