93 F.3d 910 (D.C. Cir. 1996), 95-7041, Women Prisoners of District of Columbia Dept. of Corrections v. District of Columbia

Docket Nº:95-7041, 95-7205.
Citation:93 F.3d 910
Case Date:August 30, 1996
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit

Page 910

93 F.3d 910 (D.C. Cir. 1996)


CORRECTIONS, et al., Appellees,


DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA, et al., Appellants.

Nos. 95-7041, 95-7205.

United States Court of Appeals, District of Columbia Circuit

August 30, 1996

Argued Jan. 22, 1996.

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[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

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[320 U.S.App.D.C. 249] Appeals from the United States District Court for the District of Columbia (No. 93cv02052).

Edward E. Schwab, Assistant Corporation Counsel, with whom Charles L. Reischel, Deputy Corporation Counsel, and Garland Pinkston, Jr., Principal Deputy Corporation Counsel, were on the briefs, argued the cause for appellants. Lutz A. Prager, Assistant Deputy Corporation Counsel, entered an appearance.

Peter J. Nickles, Washington, DC, with whom Caroline M. Brown, Tracy A. Thomas, and Brenda V. Smith, were on the brief, argued the cause for appellees.

Before SILBERMAN, BUCKLEY, and ROGERS, Circuit Judges.

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[320 U.S.App.D.C. 250] Opinion for the court filed by Circuit Judge BUCKLEY.

Opinion filed by Circuit Judge ROGERS, concurring in part and dissenting in part.

BUCKLEY, Circuit Judge:

In this case, appellants raise a number of challenges to a district court judgment ordering them to improve conditions at various District of Columbia ("District" or "D.C.") facilities in which women are imprisoned. The district court found that the existing conditions violated the following statutory and constitutional provisions: (1) D.C.Code § 24-442, which creates a tort remedy for negligence by prison officials; (2) Title IX, Education Amendments of 1972 ("Title IX"), 20 U.S.C. § 1681 et seq., which requires recipients of federal aid to provide men and women with equal access to educational programs and activities; (3) the equal protection guarantee of the Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution, as applied to the District through the Fifth Amendment; and (4) the Constitution's Eighth Amendment guarantee against cruel and unusual punishment.

The court's order contains provisions relating to sexual harassment; obstetrical and gynecological care; academic, vocational, work, recreational, and religious programs; general living conditions; and fire safety. We hold that (1) the district court abused its discretion in exercising supplemental jurisdiction over claims arising under D.C.Code § 24-442, (2) Title IX and equal protection principles are not applicable here because the male and female prisoners whom the district court compared were not similarly situated, and (3) certain provisions of the district court's order provide broader relief than is necessary to remedy the violations of the Eighth Amendment. In addition, we remand the case to the district court to determine whether other portions of its order are inconsistent with the recently enacted Prison Litigation Reform Act.


  1. The Facilities

    Until recently, the District maintained no facility for women serving sentences of more than a year; all such offenders were sent to federal penitentiaries scattered throughout the country. The District has since assumed custody of such women, and it now houses them in three facilities: the Lorton Minimum Security Annex ("Annex"), the Correctional Treatment Facility ("CTF"), and the Central Detention Facility ("Jail"). The first of these facilities is located in Lorton, Virginia; the latter two in the District.

    The Annex, which is situated on the grounds of the men's Minimum Security Facility ("Minimum"), consists largely of a few converted military barracks that serve as dormitories. The women in the Annex are escorted to Minimum at specified times to attend academic courses and use the gymnasium. As of January 1994, there were 936 men at Minimum and 167 women at the Annex. In this class action, the female inmates at the Annex raise challenges involving sexual misconduct, their general living conditions, and discrimination in access to academic, vocational, work, recreational, and religious programs on the basis of their sex. The medical care provided to female inmates at the Annex is governed by a separate consent decree.

    CTF was designed as an 800-bed diagnostic and treatment center for offenders with special needs. In early 1992, however, the District converted part of CTF into a facility that, as of January 1994, housed 271 general population, medium-custody female inmates. In this class action, the female inmates at CTF present challenges involving sexual misconduct, their general living conditions, the quality of their obstetrical and gynecological care, and discrimination in access to academic, vocational, work, and recreational programs on the basis of their sex.

    The Jail is a medium to maximum security correctional facility. As of January 1994, it housed 168 female inmates who were either awaiting trial or sentencing or who were sentenced misdemeanants. In this action, the inmates at the Jail have limited their challenges to allegations of sexual misconduct. Medical care at the Jail is regulated by a separate consent order.

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    [320 U.S.App.D.C. 251] B. Procedural History

    The complaint in this class action was filed on October 1, 1993. The class ("appellees"), which is comprised of the female inmates at the Annex, CTF, and the Jail, was certified without objection. The defendants include the District, the District of Columbia Department of Corrections ("Department" or "DCDC"), the District of Columbia General Hospital Commission, and numerous District officials, all in their official capacities (collectively, "appellants").

    Following a three-week trial, the district court issued an opinion on December 13, 1994, in which it found multiple violations of federal and local law. Women Prisoners of District of Columbia Dep't of Corrections v. District of Columbia, 877 F.Supp. 634 (D.D.C.1994) ("Women Prisoners I"). On the same day, the court issued an order consisting of 138 paragraphs of instructions ("Order") that were intended to correct the violations. Id. at 679-90. The defendants subsequently moved the district court to amend the Order or stay its enforcement. The court denied the motion to amend in its entirety, and denied the motion to stay except as to four paragraphs of the Order.

    On March 2, 1995, the District filed a motion for a stay pending appeal to this court. We ordered that the case be held in abeyance pending additional proceedings in the district court on appellants' motion to stay. Women Prisoners of the District of Columbia Dep't of Corrections v. District of Columbia, No. 95-7041 (D.C.Cir. Apr. 4, 1995).

    On remand, the District filed a revised motion to stay and/or modify the judgment. After a review of the parties' briefs and oral argument, the district court temporarily stayed thirty paragraphs and ordered the parties to attempt to negotiate an agreement concerning those paragraphs. The parties eventually reached agreement as to 26 of the paragraphs and jointly moved the court to amend the Order.

    On August 14, 1995, the district court issued a second opinion in which it supplemented the legal conclusions of the first opinion and denied appellants' motion for a stay of the Order. Women Prisoners of the District of Columbia Dep't of Corrections v. District of Columbia, 899 F.Supp. 659 (D.D.C.1995) ("Women Prisoners II"). The court also issued a second order that modified 23 paragraphs of the Order and vacated six others. Id. at 677-79.

  2. The District Court's Opinions

    1. Factual findings

    (a) Sexual Harassment at the Jail, CTF, and the Annex

    About a half dozen female inmates testified at trial that they had been sexually assaulted by prison guards. See, e.g., testimony of Jane Doe W, Trial Transcript ("Tr.") at Volume I, page 36 ("I-36"), Jane Doe Q (Tr. at I-74), Jane Doe OOO (Tr. at I-100), Jane Doe Five (Tr. at IV-66), Jane Doe RR (Tr. at VI-124) and Jane Doe Z (Tr. at VII-64). The district court concluded from this testimony that there had been "many incidents of sexual misconduct between prison employees and female prisoners in all three of the womens' [sic] facilities in this case." Women Prisoners I, 877 F.Supp. at 639. The court found that the level of misconduct ranged from inappropriate remarks to invasions of privacy to violent sexual assaults. Id. at 639-40.

    According to the court, one of the "most disturbing" aspects of this misconduct was "the inadequacy of the Defendants' response to these attacks." Id. at 639. The court found that while the DCDC had adopted policies and procedures designed to address sexual misconduct, "[t]hese various policies and procedures are of little value because the [Department] address[es] the problem of sexual harassment of female prisoners with no specific staff training, inconsistent reporting practices, cursory investigations and timid sanctions." Id. at 640 (internal citation omitted).

    (b) Obstetrical and Gynecological Care at CTF

    The district court found that the District had provided inadequate women's medical care, specifically concluding that the care provided them was deficient in the following

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    [320 U.S.App.D.C. 252] areas: gynecological examination, testing for sexually transmitted diseases, follow-up care, health education, and prenatal care and education. Id. at 643-48. The court was also concerned about appellants' use of physical restraints on pregnant inmates when they were transported to the hospital. Id. at 646-47.

    (c) Physical Conditions of Confinement

    The district court also found problems with the physical condition of the buildings at CTF. The court observed that the facility had originally been constructed as a treatment center for inmates with special needs. Id. at 648-49. Its buildings were connected by covered walkways that created a closed-in setting designed only for controlled movement. Id. The court concluded that CTF had several structural flaws,...

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