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SIMMONS v. RUSSELL

November 20, 1972

Earl SIMMONS et al.
v.
Harry E. RUSSELL, Supt., and N. A. Williams, Deputy Supt., State Correctional Institution, Huntingdon, Pennsylvania. Carl BAILEY v. Harry E. RUSSELL, Supt., and N. A. Williams, Deputy Supt., State Correctional Institution, Huntingdon, Pennsylvania. Maurice A. BROWN v. Harry E. RUSSELL, Supt., et al.


Nealon, District Judge.


The opinion of the court was delivered by: NEALON

NEALON, District Judge.

 The normal inmate population at Huntingdon varies between 700 and 800 prisoners. On September 4, 1969, prison officials became aware of rumors concerning a possible demonstration and riot. During the last week of September, there was an attempt to set fire to the Sticker Plant (the gummed stickers affixed to automobile license plates are produced here) where prison officials discovered and extinguished a rag which had been saturated with an oily substance, ignited and thrown in the plant window. At about the same time, the guards discovered a grappling hook, made in the prison metal shop, which had been concealed under a mound of dirt in the Athletic Field.

 On Saturday, October 4, 1969, at approximately 2:00 P.M., a group of inmates (estimates varied between 50 and 150) converged on the control center of the penitentiary demanding that they be allowed to visit the Hospital Infirmary to investigate rumors that an inmate, Ronald Hill, had been severely beaten by guards. A discussion followed, sometimes heated, *fn3" and it was initially agreed that a committee of two inmates would be allowed to go to the Hospital but this was later recanted by prison officials and the inmates were ordered to return to B yard (a recreational area and field approximately 75 yards in width and 100 yards in length). The inmates decided to stage a sit-down strike and, after the recreational period had ended, 89 inmates remained in B yard, refused to return to quarters and informed Prison officials that they wanted to discuss grievances with the Superintendent, Harry E. Russell. The Superintendent refused to talk to them and Deputy Superintendent Norris A. Williams gave the orders whereupon guards in riot gear moved these inmates, without incident, into B block segregation. All segregated cells at Huntingdon are located in B block which is divided into two sections: (1) punitive segregation, a large three tiered block consisting of 117 cells, and (2) seclusion, a smaller enclosed area to the rear of punitive segregation consisting of a small three-tiered block of 14 cells plus 3 separate cells enclosed in translucent masonry glass and known as the "glass cage". The routine procedure in punitive segregation was to require all prisoners to remove their clothing and to issue them special segregation apparel consisting of a T-shirt, pair of shorts, striped coverall trousers and canvas slippers. Those in seclusion received one-piece coveralls and canvas slippers. Because of the large number of men brought into B block punitive segregation at the same time, there was a limited supply of some clothing and inmates Charles Negri, Thomas R. J. Moore and Earl Simmons were naked when put in their cells but all received clothing shortly thereafter. In addition, mattresses and blankets were distributed to all segregated inmates.

 The following day, Sunday, October 5, 1969, some time after 1:00 P.M., another group of inmates congregated in B yard and refused to disperse until prison authorities released those confined in B block segregation and allowed them to see the men in the Hospital Infirmary. Prison officials refused these requests and 15 inmates were marched into B block seclusion where they were ordered to strip and were issued special clothing. Plaintiff Harold Brooks was placed in the "glass cage", also identified as a "quiet cell". Brooks testified further that he remained naked for 14 days, without a blanket, and that cold air from a fan was blown on him as punishment but this account was not supported by other plaintiff witnesses, particularly Negri and Moore who were also placed in the glass cage and, consequently, is rejected.

 The next morning, Monday, October 6, 1969, prison officials were tense and apprehensive concerning the possible reaction of the general prison population to the mass segregation of 104 inmates. At bugle call reveille, bedlam broke out in B block segregation as segregated inmates began banging beds, kicking on doors, and shouting to the general population to demonstrate in sympathy. This outbreak had the appearance of being prearranged and the noise and importuning could be heard in the prison dining room during breakfast. Prison officials felt the situation was strained and potentially explosive, and arrangements were made to remove the ringleaders of the outburst, who were identified by officers on duty, into seclusion. Lieutenant Emmanuel Wicker was placed in charge of a contingent of guards, who were directed to move these inmates from B block punitive segregation into seclusion. Plaintiffs Negri and Moore were moved into seclusion and placed in the "glass cage" without difficulty. While the guards were leading plaintiff Maurice Brown down the corridor of the first tier block, he turned suddenly, shouting obscenities, assumed a karate stance and began lashing out at the guards with his hands and feet. He then lunged at Officer Paul Rowe and grabbed him around the neck. The two scuffled and Officer Neil Lane struck Brown on the head with his baton (nightstick) and squirted him with mace in an effort to get him to release his grip. Brown was physically transported to seclusion where within 15 minutes, a Hospital Supervisor sutured Brown's scalp. When the contingent of guards entered plaintiff Earl Simmons' cell prior to his removal, they decided, after the Brown incident, to "take a hold" of him and attempted to place a claw (one handcuff attached by chain to a T-iron) on his wrist when he broke away, ran down the corridor, climbed the screen which separated the tiers and was apprehended on the top tier and taken to seclusion. Inmate Nathan Thomas, one of those placed in punitive segregation on October 5th, was also removed to seclusion by Lt. Wicker's crew after he created a disturbance by throwing a pancake from his breakfast tray at Officer Rowe. Misconduct reports were filed against all prisoners who participated in the October 4th and 5th demonstrations. With the exception of isolated instances of certain inmates throwing water, food, and human waste at guards in B block, there were no further eruptions or flare-ups.

 Prior to October 4, 1969, the following practices existed in segregation at Huntingdon:

 
(a) In punitive segregation, a mattress, sheet and blanket were issued while those in seclusion received a mattress and two blankets. The mattress and bedding were removed each morning, placed in storage cells, and returned at night. This practice has been changed and today nothing is removed from the cell during the day and all receive sheets and pillowcases.
 
(c) Inmates were served the same menu, although in smaller amounts, as those not in segregation except for dessert but today they receive full rations including dessert.
 
(d) One hour per day exercises were provided in the yard or in the block, but occasionally were limited because of security problems and the size of the yard to 10-12 at a time and, when there was a large number of inmates in segregation, adjustments had to be made. Presumably the same policy exists today.
 
(e) An institutional rule forbade any inmate from possessing legal documents of another inmate in his cell. This rule is not in effect today.
 
(f) In punitive segregation, inmates were allowed to receive all incoming mail and legal material but were allowed to mail only one letter a week. No correspondence, in or out, was permitted in seclusion except where the prisoner had to meet a deadline set by the Court. Today there is no limitation on access to legal materials or correspondence except ...

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