682 F.2d 1237 (9th Cir. 1982), 80-3366, Hoptowit v. Ray

Docket Nº:80-3366.
Citation:682 F.2d 1237
Party Name:Frederick HOPTOWIT, Rick Rinier, Steven Hopkins, David Rivera, Robert Smith, Leo Victoria, Tim Adamson, Larry Camarillo, Daniel Atteberry, Carl Harp, Gary Isaacs, Lynn Brooks, Daniel Clark, Manuel Rampola, John Wait, and Kenneth Holden, Plaintiffs-Appellees, v. Dixy Lee RAY, Gerald Thompson, John Shaughnessey, Robert Tropp, W. Edward Naugler, M.D.,
Case Date:February 16, 1982
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit

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682 F.2d 1237 (9th Cir. 1982)

Frederick HOPTOWIT, Rick Rinier, Steven Hopkins, David

Rivera, Robert Smith, Leo Victoria, Tim Adamson, Larry

Camarillo, Daniel Atteberry, Carl Harp, Gary Isaacs, Lynn

Brooks, Daniel Clark, Manuel Rampola, John Wait, and Kenneth

Holden, Plaintiffs-Appellees,


Dixy Lee RAY, Gerald Thompson, John Shaughnessey, Robert

Tropp, W. Edward Naugler, M.D., James Spalding, Larry

Kinchloe, James Cummins, Stanley Hansen, Donald Talbot,

Robert Benzel, Charles Crow, Parley Edwards, Zane Massaro,

Philip Mathieson, Raymond Miears, Patrick Nugent, Randy

Patterson, Richard Piver, Richard Pontsler, and Geoffrey

Proctor, Defendants-Appellants.

No. 80-3366.

United States Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit

February 16, 1982

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Argued and Submitted July 6, 1981.

Rehearing and Rehearing En Banc Denied Aug. 9, 1982.

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William C. Collins, Asst. Atty. Gen., Olympia, Wash., Charles Ory, Asst. U.S. Atty., Spokane, Wash., argued for defendants-appellants; Carol A. Smith, Asst. Atty. Gen., Olympia, Wash., on brief.

John B. Midgley, Seattle, Wash., argued, for plaintiffs-appellees; Steve Scott, Seattle, Wash., on brief.

Appeal from the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Washington.

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Before WALLACE and TANG, Circuit Judges, and INGRAM, [*] District judge.

WALLACE, Circuit Judge:

Certain inmates at the Washington State Penitentiary (the penitentiary) brought suit against the Governor of the State of Washington and various officials of the State of Washington corrections system (the State), alleging that conditions at the penitentiary amounted to cruel and unusual punishment in violation of the Eighth Amendment, 1 which applies to the states through the Fourteenth Amendment. See Robinson v. California, 370 U.S. 660, 666, 82 S.Ct. 1417, 1420, 8 L.Ed.2d 758 (1962). Among the conditions attacked by the inmates were overcrowding, inadequate medical care, increasing violence, the continuation of a lockdown, insufficient and poorly trained guards, improper classification of inmates, torturous conditions in the isolation, segregation, and protective custody units, inadequate physical plant, and inadequate vocational, educational, and recreational opportunities. We will examine the evidence relevant to these allegations as we analyze the district judge's findings.

The district judge certified the inmates' class, pursuant to Rule 23(b)(2) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure as "(a)ll persons presently or who will in the future be confined at the Washington State Penitentiary." The district court, sua sponte, appointed the Department of Justice and the United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Washington as amicus curiae. After trial, which, at the district judge's direction, consisted primarily of the introduction of affidavits and depositions into evidence, the court found the penitentiary constitutionally deficient in a number of areas and awarded broad injunctive relief. We affirm in part, reverse in part, vacate in part, and remand.


Scope of Review

A. Jurisdiction.

The inmates brought their action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and various sections of Title 72 of the Revised Code of Washington (RCW). The district court had jurisdiction over the section 1983 claim pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1343, and over the state claims pursuant to its pendent jurisdiction. 2 United Mine Workers v. Gibbs, 383 U.S. 715, 86 S.Ct. 1130, 16 L.Ed.2d 218 (1966). We have jurisdiction on appeal from the final judgment of the district court pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1291.

B. Standards of Review.

We must defer to the findings of fact made by the district judge unless they are clearly erroneous. Fed.R.Civ.P. 52(a). We may not hold a finding clearly erroneous unless the record leaves us with a definite and firm conviction that a mistake has been made. United States v. United States Gypsum Co., 333 U.S. 364, 395, 68 S.Ct. 525, 541, 92 L.Ed. 746 (1948). We can freely review the district court's conclusions of law. Miller v. United States, 587 F.2d 991, 994 (9th Cir. 1978). In reviewing the scope of the injunctive relief awarded by the district court, we observe that district courts have broad discretion to fashion remedies once constitutional violations are found. Swann v. Charlotte-Mecklenburg Bd. of Educ., 402 U.S. 1, 15, 91 S.Ct. 1267, 1275, 28 L.Ed.2d 554 (1971). This discretion is not unchecked, however, and we may reverse if the district judge has abused his discretion

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in fashioning a remedy. See id. at 15-16, 91 S.Ct. at 1275-76. The abuse of discretion standard is appropriate also for the review of various procedural rulings that are raised on this appeal. See Chicago, M., St. P. & Pac. R.R. Co. v. Poarch, 292 F.2d 449, 452 (9th Cir. 1961).

C. Scope of Judicial Review.

In entertaining a cause of action alleging Eighth Amendment violations in a state prison, federal courts must be cognizant of the limitations of federalism and the narrowness of the Eighth Amendment. Federal courts lack the power to interfere with decisions made by state prison officials, absent constitutional violations. Courts must recognize that the authority to make policy choices concerning prisons is not a proper judicial function. Bell v. Wolfish, 441 U.S. 520, 562, 99 S.Ct. 1861, 1886, 60 L.Ed.2d 447 (1979). Any needed prison reform is an executive and legislative responsibility. The function of a court is limited to determining whether a constitutional violation has occurred, Rhodes v. Chapman, --- U.S. ----, 101 S.Ct. 2392, 2400-01, 69 L.Ed.2d 59 (1981), and to fashioning a remedy that does no more and no less than correct that particular constitutional violation. See Swann v. Charlotte-Mecklenburg Bd. of Educ., supra, 402 U.S. at 16, 91 S.Ct. at 1276.

The Eighth Amendment is not a basis for broad prison reform. It requires neither that prisons be comfortable nor that they provide every amenity that one might find desirable. Rhodes v. Chapman, supra, 101 S.Ct. at 2400; Wolfish v. Levi, 573 F.2d 118, 125 (2d Cir. 1978), rev'd on other grounds sub nom., Bell v. Wolfish, 441 U.S. 520, 99 S.Ct. 1861, 60 L.Ed.2d 447 (1979). Rather, the Eighth Amendment proscribes the "unnecessary and wanton infliction of pain," which includes those sanctions that are "so totally without penological justification that it results in the gratuitous infliction of suffering." Gregg v. Georgia, 428 U.S. 153, 173, 183, 96 S.Ct. 2909, 2925, 2929, 49 L.Ed.2d 859 (1976). See also Rhodes v. Chapman, supra, 101 S.Ct. at 2399. This includes not only physical torture, but any punishment incompatible with "the evolving standards of decency that mark the progress of a maturing society." Trop v. Dulles, 356 U.S. 86, 101, 78 S.Ct. 590, 598, 2 L.Ed.2d 630 (1958). See also Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 102, 97 S.Ct. 285, 290, 50 L.Ed.2d 251 (1976). In determining whether a challenged condition violates "evolving standards of decency," courts may consider opinions of experts and pertinent organizations. But these opinions will not ordinarily establish constitutional minima. What experts may consider desirable may well constitute appropriate goals to which the other branches may aspire but they do not usually establish those minimums below which the Constitution establishes a prohibition. See Rhodes v. Chapman, supra, 101 S.Ct. at 2400 n.13. Indeed, they weigh less heavily in this determination than what the general public would consider decent. Id.

D. Analytical Framework.

In analyzing claims of Eighth Amendment violations, the courts must look at discrete areas of basic human needs. As we have recently held, " '(A)n institution's obligation under the eighth amendment is at an end if it furnishes sentenced prisoners with adequate food, clothing, shelter, sanitation, medical care, and personal safety.' " Wright v. Rushen, 642 F.2d 1129, 1132-33 (9th Cir. 1981) (Wright ), quoting Wolfish v. Levi, supra, 573 F.2d at 125.

In assessing claims of Eighth Amendment violations, and equally importantly, in tailoring a proper remedy, we must analyze each claimed violation in light of these requirements. Courts may not find Eighth Amendment violations based on the "totality of conditions" at a prison. Wright, 642 F.2d at 1132. 3 There is no

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Eighth Amendment violation if each of these basic needs is separately met. If a challenged condition does not deprive inmates of one of the basic Eighth Amendment requirements, it is immune from Eighth Amendment attack. A number of conditions, each of which satisfy Eighth Amendment requirements, cannot in combination amount to an Eighth Amendment violation.

As we have said, however, "(E)ach condition of confinement does not exist in isolation; the court must consider the effect 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. This is no more than a recognition that a particular violation may be the result of several contributing factors. "But the court's principal focus must be on specific conditions of confinement. It may not use the totality of all conditions to justify federal intervention requiring remedies more extensive than are required to correct Eighth Amendment violations." Id. To find an Eighth Amendment violation, courts must identify specific conditions that fail to meet Eighth Amendment requirements. We cannot rely on a vague conclusion that the...

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