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SCHWARTZ v. COUNTY OF MONTGOMERY

February 3, 1994

STEVEN A. SCHWARTZ
v.
COUNTY OF MONTGOMERY; MONTGOMERY COUNTY BOARD OF PRISON INSPECTORS; and LAWRENCE ROTH in his official and personal capacity



The opinion of the court was delivered by: BY THE COURT; J. CURTIS JOYNER

 JOYNER, J.

 The instant civil rights action was tried before the undersigned without a jury on August 16-18, 1993 and September 8, 1993. The parties subsequently submitted their proposed findings of fact and conclusions of law in late September, 1993 and the matter is now ready for disposition. In accordance with the requirements of Fed.R.Civ.P. 52(a), this Court now makes the following factual findings, legal conclusions.

 FINDINGS OF FACT

 1. The plaintiff Steven A. Schwartz is an adult individual who was convicted of the crimes of trespass and disorderly conduct in the Montgomery County, Pennsylvania Court of Common Pleas and bank fraud in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. (N.T. 8/16/93, 2).

 2. The Montgomery County Correctional Facility ("MCCF") formerly known as the Montgomery County Prison, is located in Eagleville, Pennsylvania and was established under and is governed by Act No. 242, approved April 8, 1851, P.L. 388. Under the terms of that Act, the affairs of the Correctional Facility are managed by the six-member Board of Prison Inspectors, three of whose members are appointed by the Board of Commissioners of Montgomery County and three of whom are appointed by the judges of the Court of Common Pleas of Montgomery County. (N.T. 8/18/93, 34).

 3. The defendant, Lawrence Roth is an adult individual who has been employed as the Warden of MCCF since the facility opened in 1986. Prior to 1986, Mr. Roth was employed as the Warden of the Montgomery County Prison in Norristown, Pennsylvania. (N.T. 8/17/93, 55).

 4. Although he has delegated much of the authority for developing and implementing the policies and standard operating procedures to be followed at MCCF to the Assistant Wardens, Warden Roth is ultimately responsible for approving and ensuring that those policies and procedures are properly implemented. Warden Roth, in turn, reports directly to the Board of Prison Inspectors which has the authority to direct that changes in the operating procedures and policies be made. (N.T. 8/17/93, 56-58).

 5. The Montgomery County Board of Prison Inspectors holds regular meetings, inspects the correctional facility on a monthly basis and is regularly given reports on the prison population. (N.T. 8/17/93, 58).

 6. On July 16, 1990, Steven Schwartz was transported from the Federal Correctional Institution at Raybrook, New York, where he was serving a federal sentence on his bank fraud conviction to the Montgomery County Correctional Facility to attend a post-conviction hearing with respect to his trespassing/disorderly conduct conviction. Because of his status as an in-transit prisoner, Mr. Schwartz was classified a medium maximum security inmate and assigned to Cell #422 in Section K-4 of the facility. (N.T. 8/16/93, 2-3, 20-23; Exhibit D-18).

 7. In 1990, Assistant Warden Dennis Molyneaux developed the Inmate Classification Policy and the Standard Operating Procedures which were in effect at MCCF in July, 1990. Under Chapters 41 and 44 of the facility's Standard Operating Policies and Procedures, there are 14 different types of classifications for inmates. These classifications include general population, maximum security, medium maximum security, administrative segregation, medical observation, disciplinary segregation, pre-hearing segregation, awaiting transfer, work release, farm, intake, weekender, 48 hours, and community service. (N.T. 8/18/93, 34-35; Exhibits D-2, D-3).

 8. As a general rule, classification of an inmate begins immediately upon his or her entry to MCCF and, under Chapter 41 of the prison's Standard Operating Procedures, such factors as age, sex, charges, bond, prior bookings, legal status, current offense, mental and physical health, condition and history, detainers, enemies and the number of co-defendants (if any) are considered. (N.T. 8/17/93, 59; 8/18/93, 39-40; Exhibit D-2). The institution automatically classifies all in-transit prisoners from other county, state or federal facilities as either maximum or medium maximum security because usually only limited information about those prisoners is available. (N.T. 8/17/93, 59-71; 8/18/93, 39-42).

 9. In addition to the factors outlined in Chapter 41 of the Standard Operating Procedures ("SOP"), the booking officers and social service counselors also consider the individual's past history at MCCF, his conduct and behavior at the time he is being interviewed and whether or not he is an escape risk. (N.T. 8/18/93, 43). As of July, 1990, the correctional facility had computerized records of inmates dating from its opening in 1986 as well as paper files from both MCCF and the old Montgomery County Prison available for review. (N.T. 8/18/93, 44-45).

 10. If an individual inmate disagrees with his classification, he may appeal it to the prison's classification committee, which is composed of members from the administration and the treatment and security departments. MCCF inmates are given this option when they are presented with the inmate classification committee form at the time of their intake meeting with a social services counselor shortly after their admission to the facility. At that time, they are also given a copy of the MCCF Inmate Guidelines. Mr. Schwartz did not appeal his classification. (N.T. 8/18/93, 45-46; Exhibit D-18).

 11. Medium maximum inmates are afforded more freedom and privileges than are maximum security prisoners. Medium maximum prisoners, though segregated from the general prison population, are permitted free access to the dayroom in the section in which they are being housed except for lockup times and head counts. They are allowed to recreate with the other inmates in their section during their scheduled two-hour recreation periods. Although they are fed separately from the general population, they may take their meals either in their cells or at the table in the dayroom with the other prisoners in their section.

 12. Maximum security inmates are locked in their cells 22 hours per day. Pursuant to the Pennsylvania state minimum standards and procedures governing county jails, (37 Pa. Code § 95.238) MCCF is required to provide all prisoners with two hours' a day of physical exercise in the open (weather permitting) or, if the weather is inclement, two hours' daily indoor physical exercise. (N.T. 8/18/93, 47-48, 79; Exhibit D-4).

 13. The inmate classification system at MCCF was developed to comply with the requirements of Pennsylvania state law, to assure the security of the institution and the protection of the community and to assure the welfare of the inmates themselves. (N.T. 8/18/93, 37-38; Exhibit D-4).

 14. MCCF houses its maximum and medium maximum security prisoners in those sections of the prison designated as "K" and "L" pods. Each pod, in turn, is divided into six sections with each section containing to the extent possible only either maximum or medium maximum security inmates. Pods K-4, L-5 and L-6, however, have been delineated to hold a combination of medium maximum security, maximum security and administrative, pre-hearing or disciplinary segregated inmates. (N.T. 8/18/93, 67-68, 38-39, 80-81; Exhibit D-2).

 15. Section 4 of K-Pod at MCCF consists of eight single person cells grouped in a semi-circular fashion around a dayroom which contains a television set and a table and chairs. Each cell contains its own toilet facilities and there is a common shower area dividing the cells into a four by four configuration. One of the dayroom walls, in turn, contains the guard's control room. (N.T. 8/16/93, 25-28; Exhibit D-1).

 16. Whenever necessary, correctional officers at MCCF are apprised of situations involving certain inmates and are informed about the past histories, conditions, etc. involving particular inmates at the roll call conducted at the start of each shift. (N.T. 8/16/93, 92-94, 96-97; 8/17/93, 74-76; 8/18/93, 86-88).

 17. Notwithstanding that the MCCF correctional officers may be informed that a particular inmate is dangerous or has a past history that may indicate a propensity for violence toward others, the institution has no policy for and this information is not relayed to the other inmates. (N.T. 8/16/93, 33, 95-97).

 18. It is the responsibility of the correctional officers at the Montgomery County Correctional Facility to ensure that the inmates incarcerated at the faciltiy are kept safely from one another. (N.T. 8/16/93, 96).

 19. It is the unwritten policy of MCCF that medium maximum security prisoners are given the option of recreating in the yard or in the dayroom and are permitted to walk to and from the exercise yard together and unescorted during their scheduled two-hour recreation periods. Unlike medium maximum security inmates, maximum security prisoners must be escorted to and from their cells to the yard by a supervisor, who remains in the yard with them during the recreation period. (N.T. 8/17/93, 73-76; 8/16/93, 83-85, 90-91).

 20. On July 20, 1990, an inmate by the name of Brian Sanders was transported from the Pennsylvania State Correctional Institution in Pittsburgh to the Montgomery County Correctional Facility. Mr. Sanders was classified as a maximum security inmate and was housed in Cell #426 in Section 4 of K-Pod. (N.T. 8/17/93, 106-107; 8/18/93, 86; Exhibit P-7).

 21. Mr. Sanders had been incarcerated at MCCF and the Montgomery County Prison some seven times previously since 1982. In the course of each prior incarceration, as reflected in the prison's records, Mr. Sanders exhibited extremely aggressive, antisocial, violent behavior and had attacked, fought with and, on one occasion, raped another inmate in the facility. The purpose of Mr. Sanders' July 20, 1990 transfer from SCI Pittsburgh to MCCF was to enable him to attend his scheduled July 23, 1990 sentencing on his conviction for the rape and assault of the other MCCF inmate in September, 1989. (N.T. 8/17/93, 106-112; Exhibits P-5, P-8 - P-31).

 22. Because of Mr. Sanders' history of violent behavior at both the Montgomery County Prison and the Correctional Facility and because he presented a danger to the staff, himself and other inmates, the Assistant Warden in charge of custody, Julio Algarin, directed that anytime Brian Sanders stepped out of his cell, he was to be escorted by both a supervisor and a correctional officer. Assistant Warden Algarin's orders were noted on the Daily Operations Summary under the heading "Recommendations" for July 20, 1990 and were to be made known at roll call for all shifts and to all department heads. The orders, however, were not repeated or included on the Daily Operations Summaries for July 21 or July 22, 1990. (N.T. 8/18/93, 86-88; 8/17/93, 76-80; Exhibits D-12 - D-14).

 23. As a general rule, in those sections of the prison housing a combination of maximum and medium maximum security prisoners, if the weather permits, maximum security prisoners are escorted to the yard by a supervisor or a correctional officer for their two-hour recreational period while the medium maximum security prisoners remain inside. If the weather is inclement or while all of the medium maximum security inmates are recreating outside in the yard, the prison supervisors may decide to give the maximum security inmates their recreation time in the dayroom. Should a medium maximum security inmate elect to return from the yard to his pod before the two-hour recreation period is up, he is to be locked in his cell. (N.T. 8/18/93, 93-95, 102; 8/16/93, 80-85; 8/17/93, 116-121). This policy, however, is not written and is not a part of MCCF's Standard Operating Procedures. (N.T. 8/18/93, 95-97).

 24. On July 23, 1990, Brian Sanders appeared before the Honorable Stanley Ott of the Montgomery County Court of Common Pleas for sentencing on his April, 1990 conviction for raping another MCCF inmate. In addition to noting that Mr. Sanders' criminal history began at the age of eleven and that he was first convicted of a violent, sex crime at the age of thirteen, Judge Ott found some six aggravating factors with respect to the September, 1989 offense. Upon being sentenced to the maximum possible sentence of 10 to 20 years to run consecutive to all other sentences previously imposed, Mr. Sanders exploded in a violent fit of rage, disrupting the courtroom and requiring three sheriff's deputies, a county detective and the assistant district attorney to physically subdue him. (N.T. 8/17/93, 130-131; Exhibits P-5, P-6).

 25. At the July 23, 1990 sentencing, Judge Ott further recommended and noted on the sentencing sheet that Mr. Sanders should be segregated as much as possible from all other inmates in whatever institution ...


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