Cody v. Hillard

Decision Date31 May 1984
Docket NumberCiv. No. 80-4039.
PartiesWilliam R. CODY, Individually and on behalf of all other persons similarly situated, Plaintiffs, v. Carole HILLARD, President of the Board of Charities and Corrections; Frank Brost, Vice President; Ted Spaulding, Member; D.A. Gehlhoff, Member; Lyle Swenson, Member; James Smith, Executive Secretary; Herman Solem, Warden of the South Dakota State Penitentiary; sued individually and in their official capacities, Defendants.
CourtU.S. District Court — District of South Dakota

Elizabeth Alexander, Washington, D.C., William D. Froke, East River Legal Services, Sioux Falls, S.D., Douglas P. Cummings, Jr., Sioux Falls, S.D., for plaintiffs.

Mark V. Meierhenry, Atty. Gen., S.D., Mark W. Barnett, Asst. Atty. Gen. and Richard Dale, Sp. Asst. Atty. Gen., Pierre, S.D., for defendants.


DONALD J. PORTER, District Judge.

Plaintiff William Cody represents a class of persons who are now or who will be incarcerated in the South Dakota State Penitentiary at Sioux Falls, South Dakota or in the Women's Correctional Facility at Yankton, South Dakota.1 The plaintiff class challenges the constitutionality under the first, fifth, sixth, eighth and fourteenth amendments to the United States Constitution of numerous conditions and practices of confinement primarily at the South Dakota State Penitentiary (SDSP) and secondarily at the Women's Correctional Facility. Plaintiffs proceed under 42 U.S.C. § 19832 and this Court exercises subject matter jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1343(a)(3).

Defendants Hillard, Brost, Spaulding, Gehlhoff, Swenson and Smith are officers or members of the Board of Charities and Corrections of South Dakota, charged with the administration, supervision and maintenance of the SDSP and the Women's Correctional Facility. Defendant Herman Solem is the Warden of the SDSP. Plaintiffs request both declaratory and injunctive relief.

This action was tried to the court seven days in June, (June 7-10, and 13-15) and four days in December (December 13-16), 1983, in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. The case has been fully briefed by the parties and extensive proposed findings of fact have been submitted. At trial plaintiffs called four expert witnesses, and defendants three such witnesses.

The following is a brief summary of the qualifications and areas of testimony of each of the plaintiffs' experts:

1. Robert W. Powitz, Ph.D., Environmental Health, is the Director of Environmental Health and Safety at Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan. He is a licensed sanitarian in the states of New Jersey and Michigan, and is an accredited sanitarian by the National Environmental Health Association and by the American Academy of Sanitarians. He was a contributing author of an official report by the American Public Health Association entitled "Standards for Health Services in Correctional Institutions." He inspected the SDSP on May 16, 1983, viewing among other things the individual cells, the food service areas and the vocational shop areas.
2. Ronald Sable, M.D., is board certified in internal medicine. He is currently the attending physician in internal medicine at Cook County Hospital in Chicago, Illinois and staff physician at the Cook County Jail. He reviewed and inspected the medical, dental and psychiatric and psychological policies and practices at the SDSP one day in May, 1983.
3. Gordon Kampka is the Vice-President of Abraxas Associates, Inc., a management consultant firm in Fallston, Maryland. He has studied, lectured and written in the fields of criminal justice and public administration; he is a contributing editor to the Journal of Prison Health. He has consulted the National Institution of Corrections, the National Prison Overcrowding Project and several state and local correctional systems. He was formerly employed as Maryland's Secretary for Public Safety and Correctional Services and for approximately six years before that as Warden of the Baltimore City Jail. He conducted a general inspection of the SDSP on June 8, 1983.
4. Lloyd T. Baccus, M.D., is an Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta, Georgia. He also has a private practice with emphasis in forensic psychiatry. He has served and continues to serve as a consultant to several state corrections systems in the evaluation and administration of mental health care services. He is currently involved in developing with other experts a mental health plan for the Texas Corrections System—this as a result of a class action suit brought on behalf of more than 33,000 inmates challenging the conditions of confinement in various institutions operated by the Texas Department of Corrections. (see Ruiz v. Estelle, 679 F.2d 1115 (5th Cir.1982), cert. denied 460 U.S. 1042, 103 S.Ct. 1438, 75 L.Ed.2d 795 (1983)). He inspected the mental health care services and policies at the SDSP for approximately one day in September, 1983.

The defendants called the following experts:

1. Bonnie C. Norman, M.S. in Public Administration and specializing in hospital administration, is currently employed and has been for more than seven years as the Director of Medical Services for the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department. Her primary responsibility in this position is to direct health care services for approximately 14,000 inmates housed in the Los Angeles County Jail system. She has attended and also organized numerous seminars regarding the administration of health care services in correctional institutions. She has authored articles on health care services in corrections systems, and has participated in drafting, revising and/or auditing state and national standards for the administration of health care services in corrections systems. She inspected the health care services and policies at the SDSP for approximately two days in May, 1983, and one day in December, 1983.
2. Winston Satran is the Warden of the North Dakota State Penitentiary in Bismarck, North Dakota. He has been employed in various correctional positions for approximately sixteen years. He has attended several seminars respecting corrections administration and as a part of his training and experience he has visited numerous state and federal prison facilities. He toured the SDSP for approximately one and one-half days in May, 1983 and again for approximately one and one-half days in December 1983.
3. William R. Gore is a sanitarian from Sacramento, California. For approximately eight years he has served as Program Supervisor, Office of Local Environmental Health Programs, Department of Health Services, State of California. In that position he is in charge of conducting environmental health surveys for numerous state institutions, including nearly all of California's correctional institutions. He has been involved over the years with formulating and applying several national and state standards associated with environmental health aspects of correctional institutions in California. He toured the SDSP, focusing particularly on environmental health concerns raised by the plaintiffs, for approximately two days in December, 1983.

In addition to expert testimony, the court had the benefit of sworn testimony from several corrections officers at the SDSP, including the Warden, other staff and also inmates. The Court also received in evidence 131 exhibits. One of these exhibits, entitled the "South Dakota Penitentiary Study", (hereafter cited "SDSP" Study"), was particularly helpful in substantiating a number of the court's findings of fact. This comprehensive survey, published in 1981, identifies deficiencies in the physical plant as well as in several practices, programs and services at the SDSP. The survey was conducted primarily by a team of professional consultants from Sioux Falls, South Dakota, Chicago, Illinois and Omaha, Nebraska, with the assistance of members of (1) the South Dakota Board of Charities and Corrections; (2) an advisory committee composed of various state public officials such as the attorney general and several legislators; (3) the SDSP staff including the Warden; and (4) the Division of Law Enforcement Assistance. Appendix A to the SDSP Study contains fifty-eight unnumbered pages of evaluations performed by the consultants on specific aspects of confinement at the SDSP. Included in these evaluations are the findings and conclusions of the consultants based in part on the degree of compliance with the "most important" correctional standards promulgated by two nationally-recognized associations of experts in the field of corrections: the American Correctional Association (ACA) and the American Public Health Association (APHA). SDSP Study at 79-80. The Study further presents potential solutions, both current and long-term, to alleviate these various deficiencies, and also identifies the most cost-effective options available to the State.


Portions of the SDSP physical plant were constructed more than one hundred years ago. There have been a number of improvements and renovations over the years. There are currently a total of three cell blocks at the SDSP: West Hall, which contains 140 cells; East Hall, which contains 200 cells; and Federal Hall, which contains 100 cells. At the time of trial on December 15, 1983, there were 538 inmates living inside the three cell halls.

Plaintiffs in their complaint allege that (1) the conditions of their confinement at the SDSP amount to cruel and unusual punishment in violation of the eighth and fourteenth amendments; (2) as to those inmates housed in protective custody, the conditions of their confinement not only amount to cruel and unusual punishment but also deny them equal protection of the laws as applied to other inmates at the SDSP—in violation of the fourteenth amendment; and (3) inmates at the SDSP and at the Women's Correctional Facility are denied meaningful access to the courts, as guaranteed by the...

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