The main building was of three floors. The first floor was devoted to kitchens, and utility purposes. The second floor was utilized for office and dormitory space. The south side contained the dormitory for white prisoners, the center section, a dormitory for colored prisoners and the north side was reserved for a hospital. Living quarters for guards occupied the third floor. The sleeping quarters of the prisoners, who averaged generally between 60 and 70, were furnished with beds and bed clothing for each inmate. Steam heat was provided in the winter season.
The entire institution, according to the witness, was kept in a clean and sanitary condition, particularly the kitchen and feeding sections where he said that he often ate with the guards at the Stockade. Vegetables were raised on the farm and were fed to the inmates as well as other staples and, from his observation, the food given the prisoners was wholesome and sufficient. Cold storage food boxes had been installed and a plentiful supply of food was kept in refrigeration. Prisoners were assigned as cooks and these and other trusties were allowed the freedom of the enclosure. On his patrol over the county roads, the witness saw crews of prisoners at work. He had observed that chains and stripes were abandoned some years ago and the men no longer worked from 'sun-up to sun-down'.
The witness further testified that he personally investigated charges against David Turner and Alvin Jones, respectively foreman and guard at the Richmond County Stockade, that they had assaulted prisoners in their charge. These were the same individuals whom petitioner alleges beat him. As a result Turner was indicted and convicted of assault on 5 or 7 prisoners and Jones on one. Neither is any longer employed by the State of Georgia or Richmond County. The witness could not place the time of the convictions of Turner and Jones precisely, but recalled that it was in 1948.
On behalf of the intervenor was also called the respondent Wall, Sheriff of Middlesex County, New Jersey, where petitioner is now held in custody to show the comparability of the Middlesex County, New Jersey, Workhouse with the Richmond County, Georgia Stockade. Conditions described with regard to food, confinement and discipline did not differ greatly except that county workhouse prisoners in New Jersey are received for terms of not more than two years, whereas they are held for an unlimited period under the system of assigning prisoners to counties in Georgia.
The petitioner relied for his discharge upon the decision of the Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit in the case of Johnson v. Dye, 175 F.2d 250, in which it was held that the doctrine of exhaustion of State remedies in habeas corpus cases does not apply to interstate rendition. The case further held that 'the obligation of a State to treat its convicts with decency and humanity is an absolute one and federal court will not overlook a breach of that duty.' The locale of the confinement of the petitioner therein was Cobb County, Georgia, and proofs involved the penal system of that county although the court took notice of the 'known facts concerning the working of the Georgia penal system at the time of the petitioner's sentence.' The court further pointed out that the State 'failed also to observe the explicit mandates of her own Constitution which pointedly, as if the very evil here under consideration was in mind, go as far, if not farther, than those of the Eighth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States.' Therefore, because the petitioner had been exposed to past inhuman treatment, he had to be 'set at liberty for the State of Georgia has failed signally in its duty as one of the sovereign States of the United States to treat a convict with decency and humanity.'
The facts in this case cannot be reconciled with the condemnation of the Georgia penal system in the Johnson case. In the latter case, although specifically invited, no representative of Georgia appeared before the Court. In this case the representative of Richmond County, Georgia, requested permission to intervene and offered affirmative proof that the leg irons, striped garments and 'sun-up to sun-down' hours have been eliminated and no longer are tolerated in its institutions and were not at the time petitioner escaped. Likewise, the evidence shows that the very men whom the petitioner accuses of having mistreated him have been punished for similar treatment of other inmates. Nor does there appear to be an element present of anticipation of possible reprisal action, as alleged by the petitioner. When the petitioner escaped the first time, he was not subjected upon return to reprisal treatment and he testified that nothing untoward occurred until three or four months following his return when the two guards, subsequently convicted, subjected him to the beatings.
No allegation made by the petitioner concerning cruel and inhuman punishment was sustained by convincing or persuasive proof in the light of the testimony of the witness from Georgia except that his charges that he was beaten by Turner and Jones appear to be true. In the face of the testimony that they have been prosecuted and are no longer in the service of the county it would appear that Richmond County does not tolerate treatment of its prisoners who labor on its roads in the manner generally ascribed to Georgia in the Johnson case.
The petitioner, however, insists that a finding that he was beaten by Turner is sufficient to bring him within the holding in the Johnson case. With this position I cannot agree. To do so would be to set at large every criminal who having been mistreated by an employee in another state penal institution, escapes to one of the states of this circuit. The decision in the Johnson case contemplated the general brutal conditions existing in the prison or chain gang described by the petitioner in that case and other witnesses without contradiction. In this case there is proof which the court has no reason to doubt that Richmond County, Georgia, at the time of petitioner's escape had taken steps to make effective Article I of the Bill of Rights of the Georgia Constitution of 1877, readopted without amendment in 1945 that no 'person (shall) be abused * * * in prison' by punishing the two guards and generally otherwise not countenancing cruel and inhuman treatment in the Stockade from which petitioner fled.
Under such view the writ of habeas corpus will be discharged and the petitioner remanded to the custody of the Warden of the Middlesex County Jail, but he shall not deliver him to the authorities of the State of Georgia until time has been allowed for the petitioner to perfect an appeal from this decision to the Court of Appeals of the Third Circuit and until the decision of that court has been pronounced, if such an appeal is taken.
An order will be made consistent with these conclusions.
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