Jones v. Diamond

Decision Date29 January 1981
Docket NumberNo. 78-1289,78-1289
Citation636 F.2d 1364
PartiesMarvin JONES, on his own behalf and on behalf of those similarly situated, Plaintiffs-Appellants, v. Fred R. DIAMOND et al., Defendants-Appellees.
CourtU.S. Court of Appeals — Fifth Circuit

David M. Lipman, Miami, Fla., John L. Walker, Jackson, Miss., for plaintiffs-appellants.

Charles S. Ralston, Steven L. Winter, New York City, amicus curiae for NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund.

Raymond L. Brown, Pascagoula, Miss., for defendants-appellees.

Appeal from the United States District Court for the Southern District of Mississippi.


ALVIN B. RUBIN, Circuit Judge:

Prisoners confined in the Jackson County jail in Pascagoula, Mississippi, either awaiting trial or already convicted, contend that conditions and practices in that jail violate federal constitutional guarantees, 1 including the equal protection and due process clauses of the fourteenth amendment, the freedom of speech clause of the first amendment and the cruel and unusual punishment clause of the eighth amendment. Asserting a class action claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, they seek declaratory and injunctive relief. The original complaint also sought compensatory and punitive damages on behalf of all members of the class, a group later estimated to include more than 8,500 persons. After trial on the merits, at which there was testimony about the individual complaints of ten class members, an amended complaint was filed asserting pendent damage claims for violations of Mississippi state law. Two panels of this court have heard prior interlocutory appeals 2 and, after trial and consideration of the merits by another panel, 3 we have heard the case en banc. The scope and variety of the claims presented require us to review each of them separately. We first set forth the basic constitutional principles governing conditions of confinement in state prisons and the history and facts of this case. After examining each of the varied claims and the defenses offered, we conclude that the conditions of confinement in the jail violated constitutional guarantees and that the prisoners as a class are entitled to injunctive relief. We conclude that the class representative is not entitled to damages, and we affirm the district court judgment denying him damages as well as the judgment denying six of the individual plaintiffs damages under Mississippi state law. Because the record does not demonstrate that any of the four other individuals who testified was asserting individual damage claims under Section 1983 and does not adequately support those claims had they been asserted, we modify the judgment as to the claims of those four individuals and dismiss them without prejudice. We further affirm the judgment of

the district court in some matters discussed in detail below.


Judges are neither correctional officers nor penologists. Even if we had the expertise to analyze the practical and theoretical implications of the conditions of incarceration, we would have no warrant to impose our views, for a legislature state or federal is not required by the Constitution to operate penal institutions in accordance with criminological doctrine or to employ only experts in their management. We are mindful that "courts are ill equipped to deal with the increasingly urgent problems of prison administration ...," Procunier v. Martinez, 416 U.S. 396, 405, 94 S.Ct. 1800, 1807, 40 L.Ed.2d 224, 235 (1974), and that it is not "wise ... to second-guess the expert (or any other) administrators on matters on which they are better informed," Bell v. Wolfish, 441 U.S. 520, 531, 99 S.Ct. 1861, 1870, 60 L.Ed.2d 447, 463 (1979) (quoting lower court opinion). Moreover, we are aware that we should not, "in the name of the Constitution, become ... enmeshed in the minutiae of prison operations." Id. at 562, 99 S.Ct. at 1886, 60 L.Ed.2d at 483.

These constraints do not mean, however, that we should return to "a time not too long ago when the federal judiciary took a completely 'hands-off' approach to the problem of prison administration," id. at 562, 99 S.Ct. at 1886, 60 L.Ed.2d at 483. A prisoner, whether already convicted of a crime or merely awaiting trial, does not shed all his constitutional rights when he puts on jail clothing. While our "inquiry ... into (state) prison management must be limited to the issue of whether a particular system violates any prohibition of the Constitution," id. at 562, 99 S.Ct. at 1886, 60 L.Ed.2d at 483, it is our duty, when jurisdiction is properly invoked, to protect prisoners' constitutional rights, for "(t)here is no iron curtain drawn between the Constitution and the prisoners of this country," Wolff v. McDonnell, 418 U.S. 539, 555-56, 94 S.Ct. 2963, 2974, 41 L.Ed.2d 935, 950 (1974).

Among the constitutional safeguards extended to all prisoners, including those convicted of a crime, are: protection by the equal protection clause of the fourteenth amendment against invidious discrimination on the basis of race, see Lee v. Washington, 390 U.S. 333, 88 S.Ct. 994, 19 L.Ed.2d 1212 (1968); religious freedom by the first amendment, see Cruz v. Beto, 405 U.S. 319, 92 S.Ct. 1079, 31 L.Ed.2d 263 (1972); security against deprivation of life or property or additional deprivation of liberty without due process by the fourteenth amendment, see, Wolff v. McDonnell, 418 U.S. 539, 94 S.Ct. 2963, 41 L.Ed.2d 935 (1974); freedom of speech by the first amendment, see Pell v. Procunier, 417 U.S. 817, 94 S.Ct. 2800, 41 L.Ed.2d 495 (1974), and protection by the eighth amendment from cruel and unusual punishment, see Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 97 S.Ct. 285, 50 L.Ed.2d 251 (1976). In determining whether conditions of confinement are unconstitutional under the eighth amendment or the fourteenth amendment, we do not assay separately each of the institutional practices but look to the totality of conditions. Our task is limited to enforcing constitutional standards rather than assuming superintendence of jail administration. See Miller v. Carson, 563 F.2d 741 (5th Cir. 1977); Williams v. Edwards, 547 F.2d 1206 (5th Cir. 1977).

The due process clause accords pretrial detainees rights not enjoyed by convicted inmates. While a sentenced inmate may be punished in any fashion not cruel and unusual, the due process clause forbids punishment of a person held in custody awaiting trial but not yet adjudged guilty of any crime. Bell v. Wolfish, 441 U.S. 520, 575, n.16, 99 S.Ct. 1861, 1872 n.16, 60 L.Ed.2d 492 n.16 (1979). However, incarceration of pretrial detainees, whether or not so intended, necessarily imposes restrictions on them. Absent an expressed intent to punish on the part of prison officials, such a restriction is valid if "an alternative purpose to which (the restriction) may rationally be connected is assignable for it" unless "it appears excessive in relation to With further elaboration when necessary, we apply these principles to the complaints concerning the Jackson County jail.

the alternative purpose assigned (to it)." Id. at 538, 99 S.Ct. at 1873, 60 L.Ed.2d at 468 (quoting Kennedy v. Mendoza-Martinez, 372 U.S. 144, 168-69, 83 S.Ct. 554, 567-68, 9 L.Ed.2d 644, 661 (1963)). "Thus, if a particular condition or restriction of pretrial detention is reasonably related to a legitimate governmental objective, it does not, without more, amount to 'punishment.' Conversely, if a restriction or condition is not reasonably related to a legitimate goal if it is arbitrary or purposeless a court permissibly may infer that the purpose of the governmental action is punishment that may not constitutionally be inflicted upon detainees qua detainees." Id. at 539, 99 S.Ct. at 1874, 60 L.Ed.2d at 468 (footnote omitted).


The Jackson County jail was built in 1949. In 1971 the Pascagoula newspaper, The Mississippi Press, ran a series of articles about deplorable conditions in the jail. The series, at least in part, prompted the Board of Supervisors to propose, and the electorate to approve, a bond issue to build a new jail. The Board of Supervisors dedicated half of the bond issue to construction of a juvenile facility, which was completed in 1975. However, an architect had not yet been employed and construction of the new jail had not begun when, in August 1973, this suit was brought as a class action under Section 1983 on behalf of persons confined in the Jackson County jail against the sheriff of the county, Fred Diamond, the jailer, Roy Tootle, Sr. and members of the County Board of Supervisors. In January 1976 Sheriff Ledbetter replaced Sheriff Diamond and Jack Broadus, Sr. was appointed jailer by the new sheriff. 4 The new administration made various changes that somewhat ameliorated jail conditions. Plans for the new jail were drawn in 1975, but construction began only a considerable time thereafter because the county sought and eventually obtained aid from the Law Enforcement Assistance Administration (LEAA). The new jail was not occupied until February 1979, 5 some months after the appeal from the trial court's 1977 decision had been heard by a panel of this court.

In a separate action, a federal district court, affirmed by this court in 1974, found conditions at the Mississippi State Penitentiary at Parchman violative of the federal constitution and limited the number of inmates who could be confined there. 6 This resulted in the detention of some state prisoners at county jails, including the Jackson County jail. By the time this case was tried, the Jackson jail was being used to confine a substantial number of persons who had been convicted of felonies and sentenced to serve terms...

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