inmates are being subjected to egregious deprivations which are largely unrelated to legitimate state interests is constitutionally infirm under the law of this Circuit. See Union County Jail, 713 F.2d at 996.
The facts regarding available space per inmate at the proposed maximum population levels are disputed. The figures that have been suggested by the parties are set forth in Appendix A to this opinion.
I am unable to glean from the record the bases for all of these disputed figures, however, the precise square footage per inmate is not critical to a determination of the constitutionality of conditions at the MCCI facility. See Union County Jail, 713 F.2d at 995-96. As noted supra, a purely spatial analysis without an assessment of the overall quality of inmate life would be in the words of Judge Garth, both "unilluminating and unconvincing" in a matter of constitutional magnitude. Id. at 996. Instead, my determination is governed by a consideration of the totality of conditions at MCCI. See discussion supra. I find the absence of walking space at MCCI, which is and would be created by overcrowding at the facility even were double bunking in place, to be a genuine privation and hardship violative of the Due Process Clause. See Bell v. Wolfish, 441 U.S. at 542. This conclusion is based not on a quantitative assessment of available space per inmate, but on my review of the full factual record in this case which I find to be distinguishable from the facts in the Union County Jail case in several respects.
For these reasons, my holding in this case is unaffected by the fact that square footage per inmate at MCCI under the State's proposed population level appears to be somewhat larger than the square footage in the Union case.
In sum, an analysis of the totality of conditions at MCCI reveals that even if double celled, pre-trial detainees would be housed in cramped, overcrowded quarters which are only slightly larger than those found in the Union County Jail. They will receive no better than three hours of recreation per week in an enlarged space away from their cell or bed. Any more recreation under the State's proposal would be impossible thus directly contravening the Third Circuit's mandate that one hour per day is a requisite mitigating factor under conditions comparable in other respects to those present in Union County Jail. At best, inmates will be away from their cells for dining or visitation an additional one hour per day. Thus inmates will be confined to their sleeping accommodations or to small, crowded corridors or anterooms between 22 and 23 hours per day. Visitation opportunities are rare and short. In direct contrast to the conditions present in the Union County Jail, inmates at MCCI will sit, without meaningful walking space, in dark, over or under heated and inadequately ventilated bed space for these 22-23 hours per day unable to read or function without risk of accident or eye strain. See Union County Jail, 713 F.2d at 1001 n.30 (physical plant not in issue). Detainees may find themselves arms length from inmates convicted of violent crimes and inmates who are physically or mentally ill. At times the toilets are out of order. As many as thirty per cent of these detainees will spend over seventy-five days in these conditions. I want to make absolutely clear that this court has no objection to double bunking at the MCCI facility, as the Supreme Court noted in Bell, the Fourteenth Amendment contains no "one man, one cell" principle. 441 U.S. at 542. However, double bunking at the State's proposed population cap will change none of the conditions of constitutional concern on the record before me.
On such a record I am compelled to conclude that pre-trial detainees, individuals who are presumptively innocent of the crime charged until convicted by a jury of peers, would be subjected to punishment in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment and the standards of Bell v. Wolfish if the State's proposed population was permitted to stand. In good conscience, paying due regard to the law of this Circuit in Union County Jail and to the constitutional permissibility of double celling, I believe that without a population cap reducing the strain on MCCI staff, resources, and physical space, pre-trial detainees will be forced to endure genuine "privations and hardship." I further believe the totality of conditions to be excessive in relation to the State's interest in effective management of a detention facility which will keep inmates who cannot make bail off the streets pending trial. See Union County Jail, 713 F.2d at 992-93; see also Worthington v. Fauver, 88 N.J. 183, 440 A.2d 1128 (1982).
It is true that, to the extent conditions are not already improved at MCCI as the State contends, this court could order the County to remedy some of the existing problems at the jail without a population cap, but the stark reality is that the County cannot provide 420 inmates with one hour of meaningful recreation per day given the existing physical plant. See discussion supra. While one hour per day may not be constitutionally required under other circumstances, where the totality of conditions of confinement approach those found in the Union County or Monmouth County jails, the Third Circuit has itself recognized that one hour of daily recreation is critical to the maintenance of a constitutional facility for pre-trial detainees. See 713 F.2d at 996.
2. Sentenced Inmates20
The question before me is whether the conditions at MCCI "alone or in combination" would deprive sentenced inmates of one of life's basic necessities as defined by the cases discussed supra even with the State's proposed remedies in place. See Rhodes, 452 U.S. at 347; Union County Jail, 713 F.2d at 999.
I find, based on the factual record which has been described supra, that state sentenced inmates at MCCI are deprived of basic human needs such as "habitable shelter" and are generally forced to endure conditions which amount to an "unnecessary infliction of pain." In contrast to the Union County Jail case, see 713 F.2d at 1001 n.30, the record in this case reveals that "basic physical facilities such as plumbing, heating, ventilation, and showers are inadequate." See id. Thus, the facts of this case are closer to those present in cases where conditions have been held to violate the Eighth Amendment such as Ramos v. Lamm, 639 F.2d 559 (10th Cir. 1980) and Battle v. Anderson, 564 F.2d 388 than were those presented to the Third Circuit in Union County Jail. See 713 F.2d at 1001 n.30. In other respects the facts in this case are comparable to those presented in Union except that, as discussed supra, at the State's proposed population level, inmates cannot be assured of receiving even one hour of daily recreation in an enlarged space on a regular basis.
As previously indicated with respect to pre-trial detainees, I accept the Commissioner's proposal that inmates be double-bunked but conclude that implementation of this proposal will not alter the unconstitutionality of conditions at MCCI under an Eighth Amendment analysis.
My conclusion that the conditions of confinement at MCCI violate the rights of sentenced inmates to be free from cruel and unusual punishment under the Eighth Amendment is not based upon my own subjective views. See Union County Jail, 713 F.2d at 999 n.22 (discussing Rhodes, 452 U.S. at 346). Instead, it is based upon the learned and carefully considered opinions of expert witnesses who testified before the Master in this case regarding the effects of the deprivations experienced by inmates at MCCI over time on the physical and mental well being of the inmates.
Similarly, it is based on evolving contemporary standards of decency which reflect, among other factors, a growing understanding of the importance of recreation to physical and mental health particularly in the context of prison overcrowding and other deleterious conditions. See, e.g., Wellman v. Faulkner, 715 F.2d 269, 274 (7th Cir. 1983), cert. denied, 468 U.S. 1217, 104 S. Ct. 3587, 82 L. Ed. 2d 885 (1984). Cf. Lyons, Researchers Report Even Mild Exercise Helps Prolong Life, N.Y. Times, July 27, 1984 at Al, Col. 1 ("researchers concluded that sedentary life styles, even among former varsity athletes, lead to heart and lung diseases that shorten lives"). Furthermore, I note that no party to this action disputes these facts. See Defendant's Answers to Plaintiff's Requests For Admissions at paras. 116, 122, 123.
Finally, in view of my holding and the remedial order which follows regarding pre-trial detainees and in view of the fact that both classes of inmates are intermixed and thus housed under indistinguishable conditions at the jail, I note that my conclusions regarding sentenced inmates will have little independent effect on my remedial order in this case.
A District Court has wide discretion in fashioning a remedial order. See Ruiz v. Estelle, 679 F.2d 1115, 1144-45 (5th Cir. 1982). However, this discretion is not unlimited. Id. "[A] court can order only relief sufficient to correct the violation found," id. at 1145; see Swann v. Charlotte-Mecklenburg Board of Education, 402 U.S. 1, 16, 28 L. Ed. 2d 554, 91 S. Ct. 1267 (1971), and may not "use the totality of all conditions to justify federal intervention requiring remedies more extensive than are required. . . ." Wright v. Rushen, 642 F.2d 1129, 1133 (9th Cir. 1981); Union County Jail, 713 F.2d at 1001. Further, a court may not use its jurisdictional and remedial authority as "a roving commission to impose . . . [its] own notions of enlightened policy" on state and local governments or correctional personnel. Rummel v. Estelle, 445 U.S. 263, 285, 63 L. Ed. 2d 382, 100 S. Ct. 1133 (1980) (Stewart, J. concurring). In short, in exercising its remedial authority, a District Court must take heed of the interests of local authorities in managing their own affairs, see Milliken v. Bradley, 433 U.S. 267, 280-81, 53 L. Ed. 2d 745, 97 S. Ct. 2749 (1977), and allow them "primary responsibility for curing constitutional violations," at least in the first instance. Hutto v. Finney, 437 U.S. at 687 n.9; see also Union County Jail, 713 F.2d at 1001-02.
In entering a remedial order in this case, I am mindful of these restraining principles, but I am also mindful of my responsibility to safeguard the rights of inmates at MCCI and the principles of fairness and human decency which on the facts of this case I have concluded are constitutionally mandated. In considering the interests and expertise of state and local authorities, I have carefully reviewed the proposed remedies of all parties to this case and I note that with one exception it appears that all parties (plaintiffs, State and County defendants as well as the Special Master, James Zazzali) have substantially agreed to the relief ordered herein. The sole exception is the precise maximum population capacity to be imposed on MCCI.
As noted supra, plaintiffs propose 192 inmates, the Master proposes 344 inmates (a figure the County has not objected to) and the State proposes 420 inmates. In entering my order in this regard, I am aware that "only if conditions in the jail could not be rendered constitutional without reduction of the population, would removal of the state prisoners be required as a constitutional remedy." Union County Jail, 713 F.2d at 1002. Further, I am mindful of the nearly 1/3 population reduction which has occurred at MCCI since periods of peak population and the substantial improvements which have accompanied this change as well as the ongoing construction program at the jail designed to increase capacity and further improve conditions of confinement.
In view of all of these consideration, I have decided to order that the defendants take the following remedial measures to render conditions at MCCI constitutional under the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution:
1. That defendants take all necessary steps to renovate the MCCI facility particularly with regard to lighting, ventilation, heating and plumbing fixtures.
2. That all inmates be given one hour of meaningful recreation per day in an enlarged space away from their sleeping area except in emergent circumstances but in no event shall any inmate miss more than two days of such recreational opportunity consecutively and that further, MCCI investigate possibilities for indoor recreational space if necessary to comply with this order on a year round basis.