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[W] Inmates of Allegheny County Jail v. Wecht

August 22, 1996

INMATES OF THE ALLEGHENY COUNTY JAIL, THOMAS PRICE BEY, ARTHUR GOSLEE, ROBERT MALONEY, AND CALVIN MILLIGAN ON THEIR OWN BEHALF AND ON BEHALF OF ALL OTHERS SIMILARLY SITUATED,

APPELLANTS

v.

CYRIL H. WECHT, PRESIDENT OF THE ALLEGHENY COUNTY BOARD OF PRISON INSPECTORS, AND THE OTHER MEMBERS OF THE BOARD; THOMAS FOERSTER AND WILLIAM H. HUNT, COMMISSIONERS FOR ALLEGHENY COUNTY; FRANK J. LUCCHINO, CONTROLLER FOR ALLEGHENY COUNTY; EUGENE COON, SHERIFF FOR ALLEGHENY COUNTY; THE HONORABLE PATRICK R. TAMILIA; MICHAEL J. O'MALLEY AND MARION K. FINKELHOR, JUDGES, COURT OF COMMON PLEAS OF ALLEGHENY COUNTY; RICHARD S. CALIGUIRI, MAYOR OF THE CITY OF PITTSBURGH, HARRIET MCCRAY; MSGR. CHARLES OWEN RICE; AND CHARLES KOZAKIEWICZ, WARDEN OF THE ALLEGHENY COUNTY JAIL AND WILLIAM R. ROBINSON, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF PRISON INSPECTORS; AND CYRIL WECHT, THOMAS FOERSTER AND WILLIAM H. HUNT, AS COMMISSIONERS OF ALLEGHENY COUNTY,

v.

THE COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA; THE COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS: DAVIS S. OWENS, JR., COMMISSIONER, DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS; AND ERSKIND DERAMUS, DEPUTY COMMISSIONER, DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS



On Appeal from the United States District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania D.C. No. 76-00743

Before: BECKER and McKEE, Circuit Judges, and POLLAK, District Judge *fn1

POLLAK, District Judge.

OPINION WITHDRAWN

INMATES OF THE ALLEGHENY COUNTY JAIL, THOMAS PRICE BEY, ARTHUR GOSLEE, ROBERT MALONEY, AND CALVIN MILLIGAN ON THEIR OWN BEHALF AND ON BEHALF OF ALL OTHERS SIMILARLY SITUATED,

APPELLANTS

v.

CYRIL H. WECHT, PRESIDENT OF THE ALLEGHENY COUNTY BOARD OF PRISON INSPECTORS, AND THE OTHER MEMBERS OF THE BOARD; THOMAS FOERSTER AND WILLIAM H. HUNT, COMMISSIONERS FOR ALLEGHENY COUNTY; FRANK J. LUCCHINO, CONTROLLER FOR ALLEGHENY COUNTY; EUGENE COON, SHERIFF FOR ALLEGHENY COUNTY; THE HONORABLE PATRICK R. TAMILIA; MICHAEL J. O'MALLEY AND MARION K. FINKELHOR, JUDGES, COURT OF COMMON PLEAS OF ALLEGHENY COUNTY; RICHARD S. CALIGUIRI, MAYOR OF THE CITY OF PITTSBURGH, HARRIET MCCRAY; MSGR. CHARLES OWEN RICE; AND CHARLES KOZAKIEWICZ, WARDEN OF THE ALLEGHENY COUNTY JAIL AND WILLIAM R. ROBINSON, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF PRISON INSPECTORS; AND CYRIL WECHT, THOMAS FOERSTER AND WILLIAM H. HUNT, AS COMMISSIONERS OF ALLEGHENY COUNTY,

v.

THE COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA; THE COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS: DAVIS S. OWENS, JR., COMMISSIONER, DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS; AND ERSKIND DERAMUS, DEPUTY COMMISSIONER, DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS

On Appeal from the United States District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania D.C. No. 76-00743

Before: BECKER and McKEE, Circuit Judges, and POLLAK, District Judge *fn1

POLLAK, District Judge.

Argued March 22, 1996

(Filed August 22, 1996)

OPINION OF THE COURT

In this long-running litigation Ä aspects of which have been before this court before *fn2 Ä appellants, a class consisting of all past, present, and future inmates of the Allegheny County Jail, appeal from an order entered by the district court on May 26, 1995, which, after argument but without an evidentiary hearing, approved a modification of a portion of a consent decree entered in July 1989. Under the terms of the 1989 consent decree, appellees Ä Allegheny County, officials of Allegheny County, and officials of the Allegheny County Jail, all of whom we will refer to collectively as "the County" Ä were required to establish a facility to provide services to mentally ill inmates. The May 26, 1995 order vacated this directive, replacing it with a requirement that the County provide services to mentally ill inmates through community-based mental health programs. Under the terms of the May 26, 1995 order, only inmates who meet certain eligibility criteria could participate in the community-based programs. An inmate with a "past history of violence" or who faces charges more serious than a "minor, non-violent crime" would be ineligible for admission to any of these community-based mental health programs. Appellants assert that this limitation violates the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990. We find that resolving this question requires ascertaining certain facts, and we therefore vacate the May 26, 1995 order and remand for factfinding.

I.

The Allegheny County Jail holds both convicted criminals and pretrial detainees. In 1976, inmates of the jail filed this class action litigation, asserting, under 42 U.S.C. Section(s) 1983, that the conditions of confinement did not satisfy minimum constitutional requirements. In two opinions issued in 1978, the district court found that conditions at the jail were shockingly substandard in a wide variety of ways. Owens-El v. Robinson, 442 F. Supp. 1368 (W.D. Pa. 1978); Owens-El v. Robinson, 457 F. Supp. 984 (W.D. Pa. 1978). As this court later summarized certain of the district court's general findings:

Living facilities were unhealthy and unsafe. The plumbing system was antiquated and in disrepair. As a result, leaks and overflows frequently occurred in the cells. The cells lacked adequate lighting; the efforts of inmate-electricians seeking to remedy that defect caused exposed electrical wires which presented fire and shock hazards. Prisoners were required to sleep on canvas cots, many of which were discolored by blood, vomit, feces, and urine. Vermin abounded. Cell temperatures fluctuated between extreme cold in the winter and extreme heat in the summer. The shortage of guards reduced supervision of the inmates and permitted hoarding and vandalism of necessary supplies. This in turn contributed significantly to chronic shortages of necessary items such as blankets and bath towels.

. . .

Some inmates were placed in solitary confinement for up to fourteen days without a mattress, toilet articles, or a change of clothing. Other inmates were confined in the nude in the isolation cell, an unfurnished, darkened, windowless room for up to fourteen consecutive hours, without any blanket or sheets. Inmates of the Allegheny County Jail v. Pierce, 612 F.2d 754, 757 (3d Cir. 1979).

The district court addressed in some detail the treatment accorded inmates who displayed mental disorders. The court noted that no psychiatrists or psychologists served on the jail staff. Further, the court described the "restraint room" in which were housed inmates who acted out, or who suffered from withdrawal, delirium tremens, epileptic seizures, or other mental conditions:

In this bleak room the inmates are placed in a hospital gown or naked on a canvas cot with a hole cut in the middle. Their body wastes drop through the hole into a tub on the floor underneath the cot. The tub is emptied twice a day. These inmates are shackled by leather restraints to the canvas cots. Physical restraints may be either full, where the inmate's wrists and ankles are bound by the manacles to the cot, or partial, where only one or both ankles are manacled. The medical logs, introduced into evidence, revealed that inmates have been held in such restraints for as long as twenty-nine days. Owens-El, 442 F. Supp. at 1380. The court decided, however, that addressing the treatment of mentally ill inmates would "go[] beyond the parameters of the case." Id. at 1382.

We reversed this latter ruling and concluded that the district court had authority to address the mental health conditions at the jail. Inmates of the Allegheny County Jail v. Peirce, 612 F.2d 754, 763 (3d Cir. 1979). On remand, the district court held that the lack of services for mentally ill inmates violated the Constitution. The court found that "a significant proportion, perhaps as many as a quarter to a third," of the inmates at the jail could be considered seriously mentally ill. Inmates of the Allegheny County Jail v. Peirce, 487 F. Supp. 638, 641 (W.D. Pa. 1980). And the court further found that, notwithstanding the high proportion of mentally ill inmates, there was

no system for care of mentally ill inmates in the jail and . . . the haphazard and inconsistent care and protection now being afforded is far below minimum standards. The deficiencies in immediate care result in physical danger to the ill inmates and to others, create security problems in the jail, aggravate Ä rather than alleviate Ä the conditions of many of the most seriously ill, and contribute to the chaotic environment in the jail. Id. at 643.

Accordingly, the court ordered the County (1) to create a separate mental health unit within the jail to house mentally ill inmates; (2) to establish a program for screening all incoming inmates for mental illness; (3) to hire an administrator to implement mental illness programs; and (4) to hire two psychiatrists and additional nurses. The court further ordered that the mental health unit be staffed with at least one guard and one nurse per shift, and that civil commitment proceedings should commence within 72 hours of a determination that an inmate should be transferred to a mental health institution.

In 1988, the district court, in the face of dramatic overcrowding in the jail and continuing constitutional violations, ordered that the jail be closed. Inmates of the Allegheny County Jail v. Wecht, 699 F. Supp. 1137 (W.D. Pa. 1988). The court concluded that the 102-year old facility "cannot handle the demands required of a modern jail facility." Id. at 1146. Among the most grievous problems caused by overcrowding was the lack of space for adequate mental health care. The forty beds in the new mental health unit were regularly filled, and, as a result, mentally ill inmates were often housed among the general inmate population, causing disruptions among both groups.

We affirmed the district court's order closing the jail. Inmates of the Allegheny County Jail v. Wecht, 874 F.2d 147, 155 (3d Cir. 1989).

On July 7, 1989, subsequent to the affirmance of the jail-closing order, the parties to this litigation entered into a consent decree to remedy the many constitutional violations that had been found. Paragraph 7 of the consent decree addressed the provision of services for mentally ill inmates as follows:

The Defendants commit themselves to the development of a treatment/work release facility for the mentally ill comparable to the presently planned drug treatment facility as set forth in Defendant's Exhibit 3, admitted at the June 12, 1989 court hearing. A specific plan for this project and a progress report on its implementation shall be included in the monthly progress reports required by the Court's Order of May 12, 1989. Consent Decree Para(s) 7, entered July 7, 1989. Under this provision, the County became obligated to establish a single, institutional facility for handling mentally ill inmates.

Three years later, the County sought a modification of the consent decree. Rather than create a separate facility for mentally ill inmates, the County sought to implement a plan under which mentally ill inmates would receive treatment in community-based mental health programs. Under the County's plan, case managers would link mentally ill inmates with services provided within the community. Applying Rufo v. Inmates of Suffolk County Jail, 112 S. Ct. 748 (1992) Ä in which the Supreme Court established a standard for assessing proposed modifications of consent decrees Ä the district court granted the County's requested modification. Inmates of the Allegheny County Jail v. Wecht, 797 F. Supp. 428, 434-35 (W.D. Pa. 1992). Under Rufo, the party seeking modification must, among other things, "establish[] that a significant change in circumstances warrants revision of the decree." 112 S. Ct. at 760. The district court concluded that mental health philosophy had shifted from an emphasis on institutionalized care to a belief in the efficacy of treatment in non-institutional settings, and that this change in philosophy constituted a change in circumstances sufficient to satisfy Rufo.

We reversed, concluding that the change in mental health philosophy predated the 1989 consent decree and therefore did not justify the modification. Inmates of Allegheny County v. Wecht, No. 92-3434 (3d Cir. May 20, 1993). We noted, however, that both the inmates and the County no longer viewed the terms of the 1989 consent decree as the optimal remedy and that both parties supported community-based treatment. While the County viewed community-based services alone as the best approach, the inmates wanted such services to be supplemented by decentralized "structured residential" settings for those inmates who could not be accommodated through community-based programs. We remanded in order to allow the district court to make factual findings as to whether some other change of circumstance Ä e.g., an increased availability of community-based programs subsequent to 1989 Ä might justify a modification of the consent decree.

In 1995, the County and the inmates undertook to negotiate a modification of the 1989 consent decree. Under the proposed modification, Paragraph 7 of the 1989 consent decree, mandating the creation of a separate facility for the mentally ill, was to be eliminated. In its place, the parties agreed to the creation of a Forensic Support Program, under which the County would provide community-based mental health services to a maximum of twenty-five inmates. The agreement contemplated that the Forensic Support Program would utilize the services of local hospitals, psychiatric institutions, and human service and release groups, and that judicial approval would be required before an inmate would be released into the program. *fn3

The County and the inmates recognized that not all mentally ill inmates would be appropriate candidates for treatment in the community-based Forensic Support Program. *fn4 Based on this recognition, the parties developed eligibility criteria covering several categories of ...


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