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03/28/86 Anthony Crosby-Bey, v. District of Columbia

March 28, 1986





Appeal from the United States District Court for the District of Columbia.


Ginsburg and Silberman, Circuit Judges, and McGowan, Senior Circuit Judge.


This case grows out of Anthony Crosby-Bey's confinement in Lorton Reformatory, a prison operated by the District of Columbia Department of Corrections. In May of 1984, prison officials removed Crosby-Bey from the general prison population and placed him in administrative segregation, apparently because he had been involved in a fight. While in administrative segregation, officials charged Crosby-Bey with three disciplinary violations. He was found guilty in each case. As punishment for these transgressions, prison officials revoked some of his privileges.

Crosby-Bey brought this pro se action against the District of Columbia and various prison officials, all of whom are appellees in this action. Crosby-Bey claimed that the appellees had violated his constitutional rights as well as the prison regulations set forth in the Lorton Regulations Approval Act of 1982 , Act 4-224, 29 D.C. Reg. 3484 (1982). Shortly after the District Court appointed counsel to represent Crosby-Bey, the appellees moved for summary judgment. After considering the opposition filed by Crosby-Bey's counsel, the District Court granted summary judgment for the appellees and dismissed the case. Crosby-Bey appeals. *fn1 We affirm.

The regulations governing housing and discipline at Lorton allow officials to place a resident in segregation for either disciplinary or administrative reasons. If a prisoner is found guilty of committing a disciplinary infraction, he may be penalized. Possible sanctions include loss of good time credits, disciplinary segregation, and extra duty assignments. Prison regulations give inmates certain procedural protections before conviction, including prompt investigation, written notice before a hearing, procedural rights at the hearing, and a written decision. Even if a resident is not charged with a disciplinary infraction, he may be confined to administrative segregation if prison officials find that the inmate is a danger to others, is in danger himself, or poses a definite escape risk. Prison regulations provide for procedural protections regarding administrative segregation. These include notice, a hearing, and a review of the segregation every thirty days.

Both disciplinary segregation and administrative segregation involve a substantial loss of liberty for the prisoner. *fn2 Disciplinary segregation, however, is more restrictive because prisoners lose privileges that are generally available to them while confined in administrative segregation. Prison officials confined Crosby-Bey to administrative segregation for four months and placed him in disciplinary segregation for part of that time.

We review first the prison administration's decisions to hold Crosby-Bey in administrative segregation. The initial decision to segregate the prisoner on May 8, 1984 has already been held lawful. Crosby-Bey v. District of Columbia, No. 84-5930 (D.C. Cir. Mar. 7, 1985) (per curiam). We thus review only the decisions on June 8 and July 2 to keep Crosby-Bey in administrative segregation. *fn3

On June 8, the housing board held its first thirty-day review of Crosby-Bey's administrative segregation. We assume, arguendo, that in part because Crosby-Bey had been convicted of several disciplinary infractions while confined to administrative segregation, the board did not allow him to return to the general prison population. On July 2, the board again reviewed his segregation. Finally, in September of 1984, the board released Crosby-Bey back into the general prison population. Crosby-Bey argues that these decisions to keep him in administrative segregation are invalid because he had no notice, the proceedings were not recorded, and the board did not set forth its findings in a written memorandum.

Periodic review of administrative detention is required to ensure that administrative segregation is not a pretext for indefinite segregation. Hewitt v. Helms, 459 U.S. 460, 477 n. 9, 74 L. Ed. 2d 675, 103 S. Ct. 864 (1983). This review, however, need not rise to the level of a formal hearing. In Hewitt, the Supreme Court expressly addressed precisely this point:

This review will not necessarily require that prison officials permit the submission of any additional evidence or statements. The decision whether a prisoner remains a security risk will be based on facts relating to a particular prisoner -- which will have been ascertained when determining to confine the inmate to administrative segregation -- and on the officials' general knowledge of prison conditions and tensions, which are singularly unsuited for "proof" in any highly structured manner. Id.

Moreover, in making administrative detention decisions, prison administrators are entitled to rely on "'purely subjective evaluations and on predictions of future behavior. '" Id. at 474 (quoting Connecticut Bd. of Pardons v. Dumschat, 452 U.S. 458, 464, 69 L. Ed. 2d 158, 101 S. Ct. 2460 (1981)).

We need not decide what constitutional minima are required for a periodic review. On June 8 and July 6, the housing board reconsidered both the original reason for segregating the appellant -- his involvement in a fight -- and apparently his unruliness while segregated. Crosby-Bey has not produced any evidence that the decision to keep him in administrative confinement was a pretext or any evidence that the decision was not made pursuant to justifiable prison administration goals. *fn4 Prison officials could well conclude that the danger presented to or by Crosby-Bey was still operative, and that this danger was exacerbated by Crosby-Bey's continued failure to obey rules and to respond to authority. The decision to keep a prisoner in administrative segregation is based in part on "officials' general knowledge of prison conditions and tensions." Id. at 477 n. 9. Since this information is peculiarly within the grasp of prison administrators and "singularly unsuited to 'proof' in any highly structured manner," id., prison officials need not set out with particularity their findings that the inmate still presents a risk; nor must they hold a formal hearing when reviewing a decision to continue administrative segregation. The Supreme Court rejected precisely this requirement in Hewitt. See also Clark v. Brewer, 776 F.2d 226, 234-35 (8th Cir. 1985) ...

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