The opinion of the court was delivered by: FOLLMER
James X. C. Long, a prisoner at the United States Penitentiary, Lewisburg, Pennsylvania, was granted leave to commence this action under 28 U.S.C. § 1361, in forma pauperis, against the above defendants. The other plaintiffs, all inmates at the Lewisburg Penitentiary, except Paul X. Rex Williams,
were added, at their requests, at various subsequent dates. The defendants have filed an Answer and an Amended Answer, and have filed a Motion to Dismiss the Complaint or in the alternative a Motion for Summary Judgment. This Court ordered that the motions be determined on brief written statements in support of and in opposition to the motions, pursuant to Rule 78 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. This has been done and the motions are before this Court at this time.
Since the plaintiffs are inmates of a penal institution, the pleadings lack the legal niceties of the normal pleadings in this Court. Therefore the complaint will be given a reasonably liberal reading in ascertaining whether claims have been stated upon which relief could be granted. See Roberts v. Pegelow, 313 F.2d 548, 550 (4th Cir. 1963).
The allegations in the Complaint and the pleading filed on January 3, 1966 are substantially as follows: The Black Muslims are permitted to meet on Fridays at 6:00 P.M. in a "small room" at the Lewisburg Penitentiary. On August 20, 1965, about fourteen Muslims responded to the Friday service call, but a Lieutenant Clark and another officer had a Muslim list of those who had designated Black Muslim as their religion upon commitment to the institution. Only four or six of the fourteen were on the Muslim list and only they were given permission to enter and go to the service. Therefore, all fourteen went to the recreation area, after receiving assurances that the ones not on the Muslim list would be placed thereon during the following week. After recreation, seven of this group of fourteen were "locked up" for investigation for attending the Muslim service call, and property belonging to these seven was taken, including Islamic prayers and articles, which property was not returned.
On Monday, August 23, 1965, two spokesmen contacted the Protestant Chaplain of the Lewisburg Penitentiary in regard to the "lock up" of the seven. The Chaplain contacted the Acting Warden, Paul F. Bolliger, and these seven were released in a few hours, after being questioned about their beliefs.
During the week, some Muslims contacted the Protestant Chaplain again, and he explained that there was an institutional rule that no inmate could change his religion while in the penitentiary. The Complaint then reads: "We then asked that they keep their records the way they have them but to let us attend our religious service anyway."
On Friday, August 27, 1965, about twenty inmates went to the Muslim service call and were again told that they were not all on the Muslim list and those not on the list could not attend the services. In regard to the Muslim list, it is alleged that other religious groups do not have lists and that any inmate can attend Christian and Jewish services, regardless of the religion designated upon commitment, although no inmate is allowed to convert.
Plaintiff Bobbie X. L. Colter alleges in his "Motion for Addendum", filed May 4, 1966, that he is designated a Christian, but that he is now a Muslim and is denied the right to practice Islam. It is further claimed that he attempted to attend a Muslim meeting on September 20, 1965, and that he was denied permission to attend and was "placed on A/S (Administrative Segration) for several days for making an orderly effort to attend that service."
The remaining allegations assert that the Muslims are not given a Muslim Chaplain; not allowed a Muslim minister and are not allowed to write to Elijah Muhammad to have him send a minister; Muslims are not allowed to worship in the Penitentiary Chapel, but are offered a "small room"; Muslims are placed in solitary confinement only because of what they believe, and that Muslims are denied the right to receive certain Islamic literature.
The defendants filed an Answer on January 4, 1966, and an Amended Answer on May 19, 1966. In the defendants' Answer it is stated that James X. C. Long is on the list of Muslims and that on August 20 and August 27, 1965 he could have attended the services but voluntarily declined to do so.
In the Lewisburg Penitentiary, proselyting by inmates is prohibited as a source of agitation, physical violences, and disruption of rehabilitation. Therefore, to control proselyting, inmates designate their religious preference on commitment and are placed on lists with those of that religion. They cannot change their affiliation during imprisonment. Separate lists of the inmates of each of the smaller religions are made both to control proselyting and the activities of the numerous services.
The institution's chapel is used for the larger denominations, Catholic, Protestant and Jewish; but because of the limited space and supervision, special quarters are designated for each of the small religious groups, including the Muslims.
The defendants' Answer further states that it would be impossible to appoint a chaplain for each of the numerous religious sects. Each inmate is permitted to correspond with a hometown minister, but for correctional and rehabilitation reasons they are ...