Marielitos in several of the prisons. Out of deference to the interest of prison officials in keeping the sources of this information -- some of it from confidential informants -- secret, the court will only set forth below so much detail as is necessary to give its decision coherence.
(a) In July 1984, there was a group demonstration at Leesburg staged by fourteen Marielitos, apparently resulting in some way from these inmates' dissatisfaction with their Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) detainers. These inmates merely threatened a hunger strike and a work stoppage until their concerns were addressed but did not threaten violence. Some of the demonstrators were transferred. Notably, not all Marielitos at Leesburg were involved in the demonstration, and no action was taken against those not involved.
(b) In late February 1985, prison officials received a report from the INS based on information provided by an informant the INS characterized as reliable. The report stated that Mariel Cuban inmates were planning acts of violence against prison officials. The informant opined that these inmates would rather spend their lives in United States jails (by committing new acts of violence) than go back to Cuban jails pursuant to the deportation agreement between the two governments.
(c) An undated report of an Internal Affairs Unit (IAU) investigator (probably written shortly after the INS memo) identified the probable leaders at Trenton State and Leesburg of any coordinated activity by the Mariel Cubans.
(d) On March 31, 1985, officials received reliable, confidential information regarding a planned disturbance at Trenton State Prison the following day. This disturbance was to take place in the mess hall and ostensibly was supposed to be a protest against a new lunchroom procedure. But this protest, according to the informants, was merely a subterfuge. The Marielitos were actually planning acts of violence against prison personnel in order to avoid deportation. The informants believed that the Marielitos were to be joined in this demonstration by bikers and Muslims at Trenton State Prison, who would use the crisis as a means for airing their own, unrelated grievances.
6. Based on the reports from Trenton State Prison, all Marielitos at that facility were quickly placed in MCU lockup at Trenton State Prison on April 1.
7. After April 1, reports continued to come in.
(a) On April 3, 1985, there was an incident at Leesburg in which one Marielito stabbed another. Apparently, the victim had accused the attacker of being an informant (a "rat"), and the attacker believed that the victim was trying to turn other Marielitos against him. Although this stabbing upon later investigation seemed to have simply been an isolated incident involving two inmates, at the time it gave officials some cause for believing that it had something to do with the other Marielito unrest throughout the state.
(b) Meanwhile, there was considerable unrest at Southern State. On April 2, the institution received inmates from Trenton State Prison. One of these transferees started a rumor that Marielitos at Trenton State Prison and Leesburg were being locked up and would be shipped to Cuba, where they would be shot. (We note for the record that there is no credible evidence from which to conclude that such a fate awaits any Marielitos who may ultimately be returned to Cuba. The now-abrogated repatriation agreement between the two governments contemplated that deportees would not be mistreated upon their return.)
In the early afternoon of April 4, 1985, personnel at Southern State received a report that Mariel Cubans at the facility had planned a disturbance the previous day, but that it had not materialized due to the inability of inmates to spread the word.
8. On April 3, 1985, all Marielitos at Leesburg were placed in MCU status there. Late on April 4, 1985, all Marielitos at Southern State were placed in MCU status there. It appears that on April 4, all other Marielitos in the state system were similarly placed. In the week or so that followed, various of these inmates were transferred around the state, so that at the present all are in MCUs in Trenton, Rahway or Leesburg.
9. Throughout early-to-mid-April, 1985, reports sporadically came in about further possible disturbances by the Mariel Cuban inmates at Trenton State, and information was received about a planned violent demonstration at Rahway which had been short-circuited by the segregation of Marielitos there.
10. There does not seem to have come to light during this period any specific information about planned violence by Marielitos at any of the following institutions: Bordentown, Mid-State, Annandale or Yardville (PRU and Youth Corrections).
11. The plaintiffs were placed in MCUs on April 3 or 4, pursuant to Department of Corrections Standard 141.
According to the testimony of prison officials and the terms of Standard 141, confinement in the Management Control Unit is not disciplinary or "punitive"; that is, confinement is not imposed because an inmate has violated a prison regulation. Confinement is not viewed as a stain on one's prison record and is not considered in any way in the parole process. Rather, the Management Control Unit is a form of preventive detention used by officials to prevent a potential disturbance from erupting. In the language of the Standard, an inmate may be placed in the MCU if he constitutes a "threat":
(1) to the safety of others; or (2) of damage to or destruction of property; or (3) of interrupting the safe, secure, and orderly operation of the institution . . . .
Ordinarily, a hearing precedes placement in the MCU. However, under the Standard, one may be placed in the MCU prior to hearing in the event of an emergency posing an immediate and substantial threat to the security and orderly operation of the institution. In the event of an emergency, hearings are to be held "as soon as possible," with the promptness depending on the number of inmates involved. And any inmate who is continued in the MCU following a hearing is entitled to a review of the need for continued confinement at least once every three months. See Standard 141.10 and .11.
12. On April 3, each of the plaintiffs in the Leesburg general population was notified that he was being placed in the MCU. The notice made mention of each plaintiff's status as an "illegal Cuban alien," and further stated:
The intent of this action is to halt untoward escalation of activities which in our best professional judgment could pose a serious threat to the well-being and safety of the staff and inmate population.