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INMATES OF THE ALLEGHENY CTY. JAIL v. WECHT

June 26, 1985

INMATES OF THE ALLEGHENY COUNTY JAIL, THOMAS PRICE BEY, ARTHUR GOSLEE, ROBERT MALONEY, and CALVIN MILLIGAN on their own behalf and on behalf of all others similarly situated, Plaintiffs,
v.
CYRIL H. WECHT, President of the Allegheny County Board of Prison Inspectors and the other members of the Board: THOMAS FOERSTER and WILLIAM H. HUNT, Commissioners for Allegheny County; FRANK J. LUCCHINO, Controller for Allegheny County; EUGENE COON, Sheriff for Allegheny County; THE HONORABLE PATRICK R. TAMILIA, MICHAEL J. O'MALLEY and MARION K. FINKELHOR, Judges, Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County; RICHARD S. CALIGUIRI, Mayor of the City of Pittsburgh; HARRIET MCCRAY, MONSG.; CHARLES OWEN RICE and CHARLES KOZAKIEWICZ, Warden of the Allegheny County Jail; and WILLIAM B. ROBINSON, Executive Director of Prison Inspectors; and CYRIL WECHT, THOMAS FOERSTER and WILLIAM H. HUNT, as Commissioners of Allegheny County, Defendants



The opinion of the court was delivered by: COHILL

Presently before the Court is a Motion by Plaintiffs for Additional Relief, arising out of the alleged current practice of the Warden of the Allegheny County Jail of refusing admission to women committed to the Allegheny County Jail at times when the women's population of the jail reaches the population cap of 30 women imposed by previous orders of this Court. *fn1"

 Plaintiffs allege that because of Defendants' policy, female prisoners legally committed by district magistrates to the Allegheny County Jail are kept in police lock-ups of the City of Pittsburgh, often for extended and unreasonable periods of time in view of the conditions in the lock-ups. Motion for Additional Relief, at 2. Plaintiffs allege that, in allowing this situation to exist, Defendants are violating previous orders of this Court and the constitutional rights of the detainees. Id. Plaintiffs further allege that the lock-ups were designed to house detainees for the short time required for police processing and a magistrate's hearing, rarely more than 4-6 hours. Plaintiffs claim that the Defendants are, in fact, using the lock-up as an auxiliary jail. The conditions alleged to contribute to the conclusion of unconstitutionality are 1) crowding of cells: four of the seven female cells in the Public Safety Building ("PSB") lock-up have three beds, a commode and a sink crowded into each, resulting in the inmates having virtually no space to move; 2) female inmates must eat their meals in these cells; 3) at times, bunk beds have been added to the aforesaid cells to house additional inmates; 4) inadequate space for exercise or other recreation; 5) a staff consisting solely of police matrons and police officers who do not have sufficient training to screen prisoners for potential suicides, mental, or other health problems; 6) absence of treatment facilities or personnel; 7) nonexistence of funds to purchase medication for inmates and absence of professionals to prescribe medication; 8) health intervention available only for acute physical emergencies and where behavior is so dangerous that an emergency commitment is called for; 9) no clothing provided for inmates; 10) no access to a law library; and 11) absence of facilities for visits. Id. at 2-3.

 Plaintiffs invoke the broad power of this Court to remedy violations of its orders in requesting us to 1) enjoin Defendants from delaying admission into the Allegheny County Jail of any female detainee who has been committed to the jail in default of bond, and who would otherwise be held in a police lock-up in the City of Pittsburgh; 2) enjoin Defendants from delegating their responsibility to house inmates to City police officials or to any other person unless they first certify to the Court that they have inspected the facility and have found that the conditions of confinement are in compliance with the requirements for the Allegheny County Jail as set forth in this Court's prior rulings; and 3) other relief appropriate and necessary to ensure the effectiveness of this Court's remedy. Id. at 4.

 Defendants respond that 1) they have no knowledge or information as to conditions of confinement at the police lock-ups; 2) Defendants have taken no action to retain inmates in the police lock-ups nor do they send inmates to those lock-ups; 3) Defendants are not responsible for the constitutionality of conditions in the lock-ups; 4) females committed to the Jail in default of bond are not members of the class certified in this case unless they are actually physically incarcerated in the Jail, and that movants thus lack standing to seek relief in this case; 5) Defendants have no mandatory, statutory, or regulatory duty requiring them to accept prisoners into the Jail; 6) Plaintiffs are impermissibly attempting to extend the scope of this action beyond the conditions in the Allegheny County Jail; and 7) the Court lacks jurisdiction over this claim insofar as the movants attempt to litigate the issue of conditions in the city lock-up. Response to Motion for Additional Relief, at 1-4.

 Three issues must be decided in order to resolve Plaintiff's motion for additional relief. The threshold issue is whether the female inmates being held at the city lock-up are members of the class certified in this lawsuit. Second, assuming that female inmates at the city lock-ups are members of the class, we must determine whether the conditions in the lock-ups are unconstitutional. Third, if the conditions are unconstitutional, we must determine whether the holding of female inmates in such conditions violates this Court's prior orders. Finally, we must determine the appropriate relief.

 We find it useful to begin with a short summary of relevant previous orders in this case, and a statement of the facts found at the evidentiary hearing held on June 3, 1985 on Plaintiff's motion for additional relief.

 BACKGROUND

 On May 25, 1983, in an opinion and accompanying order, we directed that the inmate population of the Allegheny County Jail be reduced in a series of steps. See Inmates of the Allegheny County Jail v. Wecht, 565 F. Supp. 1278 (W.D. Pa. 1983). By October 20, 1983, the population of the jail was almost constantly in excess of the limits set by this Court. Faced with the population limit thus becoming a nullity, we ordered that unless the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County adopted a different method of compliance that, in order to meet the population limit, the Warden release, on their own recognizance, males and females being held in default of the lowest amount of bond, until the population limits were met. We noted that precedent existed for such an order. See 573 F. Supp. 454, 457-58 (W.D. Pa. 1983) (citing Duran v. Elrod, 713 F.2d 292 (7th Cir. 1983); Benjamin v. Malcolm, 564 F. Supp. 668 (SDNY 1983)). We also stated that, since the release order was a drastic remedy, it should in no way be construed by the Defendants as a reason for them to relax their efforts to obtain additional housing. Id. We stated, "this entire situation will again be reviewed by us on or before March 1, 1984 to ascertain how successful the County officials have been in arranging for interim facilities." Id. We also ordered that no federal prisoners be housed in the Allegheny County Jail except during the time any such prisoners were standing trial. Id.

 With the passage of months, it became apparent the release order, intended to be a temporary measure designed to ensure compliance with the population cap, had become the operating rule for the Jail. On December 30, 1983, we observed that the release order had come about because Allegheny County "had not provided an interim facility to house such prisoners pending completion of the Allegheny County Jail addition, . . . [that] such releases are a poor substitute for the provision of suitable interim housing facilities, . . . [and that] it is within the capability of the county officials to provide the necessary interim facility." Order of December 30, 1983, at 1-2. We ordered that if releases continued after February 15, 1984, approximately four months after our emergency release order, a sanction of $5,000 would be imposed against Defendants for each prisoner released. Id. at 2.

 This order was appealed. The Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit affirmed in part, and vacated and remanded in part. See Inmates of the Allegheny County Jail v. Wecht, 754 F.2d 120 (3d Cir. 1985). In response to the decision of the Court of Appeals, we ordered a hearing to be held on February 20, 1985 and that Defendants, at that time 1) apprise the court of progress on the auxiliary jail under construction; and 2) apprise the court of "plans for alternate facilities in order to prevent the further release of prisoners. If no plan is presented, the Court will order further appropriate action at that time." Order of January 31, 1985, at 4. (emphasis added). A hearing was held February 27, 1985. The Court heard testimony from a number of witnesses for Defendants as to various efforts by the County to find alternate facilities. See Transcript of Hearing, February 27, 1985. In an opinion read from the bench, we concluded that the measures taken by the County continued to be, in essence, a stopgap approach to a serious and continuing problem. Based on the testimony we heard, we raised the population limit for males from 500 to 510, and further ordered that "By May 6, 1985, the Defendants are directed to obtain constitutionally adequate facilities for prisoners who would otherwise be released because of overcrowding at the jail." Opinion and Order of February 27, 1985, at 9. We stated that a hearing would be conducted on May 6 to determine what facilities had been obtained and the adequacy of such facilities. Id. at 10. Finally, we stated that "after May 6, 1985, a fine of $5,000 will be imposed on the County of Allegheny for each prisoner released because of lack of adequate facilities." Id.

 On May 3, 1985, prior to the hearing, we paid a surprise visit to the Jail. We found the Jail to be in compliance with our previous orders.

 On May 6, 1985 we conducted a hearing to determine what alternate facilities the County had obtained. Warden Kozakiewicz testified that the population limit of 510 men has not adversely affected conditions in the Jail, and that all jail spaces available in outlying counties have been secured on a contract basis for use by Allegheny County. Transcript of May 6 Hearing, at 3-7. The Warden testified that from March 1, 1985 - March 29, 1985, there had been 9 releases to meet the population limit, but that from March 29 until May 6, the date of the hearing, no prisoners had been released from the Jail. Id. at 6-7. The Warden also testified as to the salutary effect of a recent decision by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court addressing the obligation of the State to relieve the County of the burden of holding state prisoners. See County of Allegheny v. Commonwealth, 507 Pa. 360, 490 A.2d 402 (1985). The Warden testified that as a result of the decision, the average population of the Jail had dropped to 475-480 Inmates Tr. at 6. The Warden also testified that if these figures held, there would be no need for an interim facility. Id. at 8. The Warden testified he had continued, however, to attempt to find an alternate facility, and that one alternate facility, 268 Center, Inc., a privately-operated prison, was scheduled to begin operations in mid-May in Armstrong County, Pennsylvania. The facility will have 55 rooms available for nondangerous inmates and "driving under the influence" ("DUI") offenders. Tr. 3-26. The Warden was unable to answer many questions about staffing and services at the 268 Center. Id. The Warden stated, however, that no space in the 268 Center was available for the housing of women. Id. at 25.

 On cross examination, the Warden stated that while the effect of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court decision had been to reduce the male population, it had had no effect on the female population. The female population generally remains at 30, the maximum limit set by this Court. Id. at 11. The Warden also testified that females from the city lock-ups were often not admitted to the jail after a commitment order by a magistrate. ...


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