553 F.Supp. 1365 (N.D.Cal. 1983), C-73-1422, Toussaint v. Rushen

Docket Nº:C-73-1422-SAW.
Citation:553 F.Supp. 1365
Party Name:Joseph TOUSSAINT, et al., Plaintiffs, v. Ruth RUSHEN, et al., Defendants.
Case Date:January 14, 1983
Court:United States District Courts, 9th Circuit, Northern District of California

Page 1365

553 F.Supp. 1365 (N.D.Cal. 1983)

Joseph TOUSSAINT, et al., Plaintiffs,


Ruth RUSHEN, et al., Defendants.

No. C-73-1422-SAW.

United States District Court, N.D. California.

Jan. 14, 1983

Page 1366

Sidney Wolinsky, Public Advocates, Morris Baller, Mexican-American Legal Defense

Page 1367

and Educational Fund, San Francisco, Cal., James F. Smith, Sacramento, Cal., Paul Comiskey, Smith, Snedeker & Comiskey, Bernard Zimmerman, David Lew, Frances Ternus, Sanford Jay Rosen, Rosen & Remcho, San Francisco, Cal., Michael Satris, San Quentin, Cal., for plaintiffs.

James B. Cuneo, Deputy Atty. Gen., Cal. Dept. of Justice, San Francisco, Cal., William G. Prahl, Deputy Atty. Gen., California Dept. of Justice, Sacramento, Cal., for defendants.


WEIGEL, District Judge.

The following Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law, as well as the Preliminary Injunction to which they relate, are predicated upon the decision in Wright v. Rushen (9th Cir.1981) 642 F.2d 1129, which remanded this case to this Court. The Findings and Conclusions accordingly have been prepared in the light of careful consideration of (1) the entire record, of (2) the written and oral presentation of counsel for the parties including, particularly, Findings and Conclusions proposed by plaintiffs' and defendants' "Response to Proposed Preliminary Injunction, Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law and Supplemental Opposition to Motion for Preliminary Injunction," of (3) meticulous review with counsel for all parties of the Findings and Conclusions proposed by plaintiffs, of (4) all decisions, statutes and regulations referred to by the parties and of (5) this Court's supplemental research.

It should be noted that a number of the provisions of the preliminary injunction do no more than to order defendants to comply with valid obligations imposed upon them by California state law including regulations of defendants' own making. It should also be noted that defendants appear to concede the appropriateness of a number of the injunctive provisions if the facts and law are as this Court has found them. See, for example, defendants' "Response to Proposed Preliminary Injunction, Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law and Supplemental Opposition to Motion for Preliminary Injunction" at pages 32 and 33.

Finally, by way of preliminary statement, this Court has, throughout, given full weight to evidence showing the heavy burdens placed on custodial authorities--especially in regard to handling those portions of the prison population composed of prisoners who are dangerous and violent. Such prisoners pose serious threats to each other, to other prisoners and to the custodial authorities. This Court has also given full weight to, and agrees with, the cases making it clear that prisoners, regardless of whether violent or dangerous, are not entitled to be pampered. This Court has also recognized throughout that it is not its business to run prisons. It has also recognized the heavy financial burdens involved in the maintenance and operation of prisons.

It is equally true that the foregoing considerations do not permit this Court or any court to condone disregard of Constitutional rights guaranteed even to persons who are prisoners. Any such disregard weakens the very essence of law and order in a Republic founded upon and governed by a constitution binding alike upon those who govern and those who are governed. There is no license anywhere in the laws of the United States to deprive prisoners of their rights under the Constitution of the United States.

Plaintiffs' motion for a preliminary injunction involves the second phase of Wright v. Enomoto (N.D.Cal.1976) 462 F.Supp. 397, aff'd, (1978) 434 U.S. 1052, 98 S.Ct. 1223, 55 L.Ed.2d 756 (hereinafter Wright I ), a class action. Plaintiffs' class was certified on February 25, 1976. It consists of all prisoners confined or subject to confinement in administrative segregation at four California state prisons--California State Prison at San Quentin, Deuel Vocational Institution at Tracy, Correctional Training Facility at Soledad, and California

Page 1368

State Prison at Folsom. 1 Defendants are the Director of the California Department of Corrections (CDC) and the wardens and superintendents of the above-named institutions.

In granting plaintiffs relief on their first claim, as affirmed in Wright I, supra, this Court held that principles of due process require that before an inmate is placed in administrative segregation, he must be afforded prompt written notice of the reasons for his confinement, an opportunity to prepare a defense, a fair and expeditious hearing at which to present evidence, representation by a counsel-substitute when appropriate, and a written decision by the hearing panel.

In July of 1980, plaintiffs moved for a preliminary injunction on their second claim for relief, which challenged (under the Eighth Amendment of the United States Constitution and Article I, section 17, of the California Constitution) the conditions of confinement in the administrative segregation units at defendants' institutions. A preliminary injunction issued on November 3, 1980.

The action is now before this Court by remand of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, following its decision of March 13, 1981 vacating the November 3, 1980 preliminary injunction. Wright v. Rushen, supra, 642 F.2d 1129 (hereinafter Wright II ). The Court of Appeals concluded that this Court had abused its discretion because it "did not apply the proper legal standards assessing the plaintiffs' probability of ultimate success on the merits ...," ( id., at 1130), in that this Court "erred in its use of the 'totality of conditions' approach" ( id., at 1132) in assessing the constitutionality of the conditions of confinement.

In its decision, the Ninth Circuit rejected the "totality of conditions" approach in favor of one that examines separately "each challenged condition of confinement, such as the adequacy of the quarters, food, medical care, etc., and determine whether that condition is compatible with 'the evolving standards of decency that mark the progress of a maturing society.' " ( id., at 1133).

Although the Court of Appeals recognized that a district court "may properly allow some margin of error when correcting violations" ( id., at 1134), it further declared that judicial relief should be no more extensive than necessary to eliminate proven violations. The Court of Appeals also noted that "it must be made evident to a reviewing court that the district court did in fact focus on the impact of its remedies, even when cast only in the form of a preliminary injunction, on prison security and the resources of the state" ( ibid.). The Court of Appeals recognized, however, that "each condition of confinement does not exist in isolation; the court must consider the effect

Page 1369

of each condition in the context of the prison environment, especially when the ill-effects of particular conditions are exacerbated by other related conditions" ( id., at 1133).

The case was thus remanded back to this Court for further proceedings.

In response to the Ninth Circuit's order, plaintiffs have renewed their motion for a preliminary injunction, again challenging many of the conditions of confinement in administrative segregation as violating the Eighth Amendment of the United States Constitution and Article I, section 17 of the California Constitution. In support of their motion, plaintiffs have resubmitted the evidence presented to this Court in connection with their original motion. Specifically, this evidence consists of: (1) twenty-eight declarations under penalty of perjury from inmates confined in administrative segregation at San Quentin, Deuel Vocational Institution, and Soledad; (2) depositions of defendant Ruth Rushen, California Department of Corrections director, and defendant George Sumner, former warden at San Quentin; (3) photographs of a number of the administrative segregation units; (4) declarations under penalty of perjury from psychiatrists reporting upon the mental and emotional impact of existing conditions upon prisoners; (5) extracts from the case files of various inmates; (6) declarations under penalty of perjury from several of plaintiffs' co-counsel; (7) a State Bar report on the California prison system in 1979; and (8) twenty-three declarations under penalty of perjury, primarily from inmates, filed in connection with Plaintiffs' Opposition to Defendants' Motion for Partial Summary Judgment as to San Quentin, Deuel Vocational Institution, and Soledad. In addition, plaintiffs have submitted (in connection with their Motion for Preliminary Injunction Following Remand from Circuit Court) declarations under penalty of perjury from Arnold Pontesso (a former federal penitentiary warden, a former director of the Department of Corrections for the State of Oklahoma and currently a criminal justice consultant), from psychologist Craig Haney (a specialist on the effects of institutional environments and a criminal justice consultant), from twenty-eight inmates, and from plaintiffs' co-counsel. Defendants have submitted numerous opposition photographs and declarations, consisting largely of unsubstantiated assertions and hearsay, both before the entry of the Court's initial preliminary injunction and in response to plaintiffs' Motion for Preliminary Injunction Following Remand from Circuit Court.

Plaintiffs also moved and were granted leave to amend their complaint to assert pendent state law claims under state statutes and regulations.

Many of the allegations in plaintiffs' declarations are either admitted or...

To continue reading