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Case Name Rhem v. Malcolm JC-NY-0007
Docket / Court 70 Civ. 3962 ( S.D.N.Y. )
State/Territory New York
Case Type(s) Jail Conditions
Case Summary
In 1970, over-crowding and trial delays at the Manhattan House of Detention for Men (MHD), a facility in New York City used to house inmates in pretrial confinement, led to severe discontent and stress among the inmates. Outbreaks of inmate disturbances occurred in August and October of that year. ... read more >
In 1970, over-crowding and trial delays at the Manhattan House of Detention for Men (MHD), a facility in New York City used to house inmates in pretrial confinement, led to severe discontent and stress among the inmates. Outbreaks of inmate disturbances occurred in August and October of that year. After order was restored, the inmates alleged that conditions at MHD had worsened. MHD inmates brought a class action suit under 42 U.S.C. §1983 alleging that their conditions of confinement violated the Eighth Amendment's protection against cruel and unusual punishment. The plaintiffs further alleged that the practice of opening and inspecting inmates' incoming mail infringed their constitutional right to communicate freely with their attorneys and that the lack of readily-accessible rules and regulations governing the conduct of inmates and correction officer at MHD deprived them of due process of law under the Fourteenth Amendment. The plaintiff class was represented by the Legal Aid Society of New York City.

On March 17, 1971, the United States District Court the Southern District of New York (Judge Walter Roe Mansfield) granted a preliminary injunction that enjoined defendant jail officials from interfering with private consultations between prisoners and their counsel in which jail officials were parties. Rhem v. McGrath, 326 F.Supp. 681 (S.D.N.Y. 1971). Judge Mansfield also ordered MHD to adopt a comprehensive set of rules and to make them fully available to all inmates. After negotiations between the parties, a consent decree was entered on August 2, 1973, regarding overcrowding, unsanitary conditions and inadequate medical care. The remaining issues were brought to trial before the district court. On January 7, 1974, the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York (Judge Morris E. Lasker) held that the pretrial detainees could not be confined under conditions more rigorous than a convicted prisoner. Rhem v. Malcolm, 371 F.Supp. 594 (S.D.N.Y. 1974). Judge Lasker further held that the unnecessary imposition of maximum security confinement violated detainees' rights to due process, that the city would be required to provide contact visits, that the exercise and recreation programs did not meet constitutional standards, that the institution did not provide a tolerable living environment for inmates and that the prisoners were entitled to certain due process rights with respect to discipline. On July 11, 1974, Judge Lasker ordered that MHD be closed within 30 days unless a plan was submitted by defendant officials relating to the elimination of the previously found unconstitutional conditions at the facility. Rhem v. Malcolm, 377 F.Supp. 995 (S.D.N.Y. 1974).

The Second Circuit Court of Appeals, in an opinion by Judge Wilfred Feinberg, affirmed Judge Lasker's findings of unconstitutional conditions but remanded the case for reconsideration of the deadlines imposed for restructuring the institution because the remedies required substantial physical changes to a jail located in the heart of a large metropolitan area and the city had limited fiscal resources. Rhem v. Malcolm, 507 F.2d 333 (2nd Cir. 1974). On remand, Judge Lasker held that the plaintiffs, who had been transferred to facilities at Rikers Island, were entitled to the same constitutional standards regardless of where they were confined. Rhem v. Malcolm, 389 F.Supp. 964 (S.D.N.Y. 1975). Judge Lasker also found that the city had an obligation to complete necessary head counts and housecleaning operations within a reasonable period of time and that the 50-minute per week exercise period, which extended from October through May, was constitutionally inadequate. Judge Lasker later amended the judgment to cover a classification system, the plaintiffs' ability to leave their cells and visitation. Rhem v. Malcolm, 396 F.Supp. 1195 (S.D.N.Y. 1975).

The corrections commissioner appealed the findings in Judge Lasker's amended judgment, and on December 5, 1975, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals (per curiam decision) affirmed Judge Lasker's judgment. Rhem v. Malcolm, 527 F.2d 1041 (2nd Cir. 1975). The Court of Appeals held that ordering MHD to provide contact visits for all detainees without first holding a full hearing on the physical and financial difficulties posed by such order, was not an abuse of the lower court's discretion, and an optional "lock-in" program was constitutionally mandated. After proposing extensive improvements to the MHD, the city of New York moved to modify the court order to permit its use as a general detention facility. On April 11, 1977, Judge Lasker held that the proposed plan would not sufficiently remedy defects in the physical environment of the MHD to permit use of the facility for pre-dention of a general population, the plan was inadequate with respect to active and outdoor recreation, and the plan failed to provide for the adequate segregation of inmates. Rhem v. Malcolm, 432 F.Supp. 769 (S.D.N.Y. 1977).

The docket in this case was not available on PACER, and accordingly, we do not have further information on the case.

Tom Madison - 02/24/2006
Richard Jolly - 11/04/2014


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Constitutional Clause
Cruel and Unusual Punishment
Due Process
Content of Injunction
Implement complaint/dispute resolution process
Preliminary relief granted
Crowding
Crowding / caseload
Defendant-type
Corrections
General
Access to lawyers or judicial system
Administrative segregation
Assault/abuse by residents/inmates/students
Classification / placement
Disciplinary segregation
Mail
Recreation / Exercise
Sanitation / living conditions
Totality of conditions
Visiting
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Type of Facility
Government-run
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. § 1983
Defendant(s) Manhattan House of Detention for Men (""""The Tombs"""")
Plaintiff Description Inmates of the Manhattan House of Detention
Indexed Lawyer Organizations None on record
Class action status sought Yes
Class action status granted Yes
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement
Source of Relief Litigation
Settlement
Form of Settlement None on record
Order Duration 1971 - n/a
Case Closing Year n/a
Case Ongoing Unknown
Case Listing JC-NY-0022 : Detainees of Brooklyn House of Detention for Men v. Malcolm (E.D.N.Y.)
Additional Resources
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Case Studies After Decision: Implementation of Judicial Decrees in Correctional Settings
Written: Oct. 01, 1977
By: M. Kay Harris & Dudley P. Spiller (Temple University)
Citation: (1977)
[ Detail ] [ PDF ]

  Rhem v. Malcolm: A Case Study of Public Interest Litigation: Pretrial Detention
By: Michele Hermann (Harvard Law School)
Citation: (1977) (unpublished Masters thesis, Harvard Law School)
[ Detail ]

Docket(s)
No docket sheet currently in the collection
General Documents
Reported Opinion 03/17/1971 (326 F.Supp. 681) (S.D.N.Y.)
JC-NY-0007-0007 PDF | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: Google Scholar
Reported Opinion 01/07/1974 (371 F.Supp. 594) (S.D.N.Y.)
JC-NY-0007-0003 PDF | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: Google Scholar
Memorandum 07/11/1974 (377 F.Supp. 995) (S.D.N.Y.)
JC-NY-0007-0001 PDF | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: Google Scholar
Reported Opinion 11/08/1974 (507 F.2d 333)
JC-NY-0007-0004 PDF | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: Google Scholar
Memorandum 02/20/1975 (389 F.Supp. 964) (S.D.N.Y.)
JC-NY-0007-0005 PDF | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: Google Scholar
Reported Opinion 04/23/1975 (396 F.Supp. 1195) (S.D.N.Y.)
JC-NY-0007-0006 PDF | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: Google Scholar
Reported Opinion 12/05/1975 (527 F.2d 1041)
JC-NY-0007-0002 PDF | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: Google Scholar
Reported Opinion 04/11/1977 (432 F.Supp. 769) (S.D.N.Y.)
JC-NY-0007-0008 PDF | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: Google Scholar
Judges Feinberg, Wilfred (Second Circuit, S.D.N.Y.)
JC-NY-0007-0004
Gurfein, Murray Irwin (Second Circuit, S.D.N.Y.)
JC-NY-0007-0002
Lasker, Morris Edward (D. Mass., S.D.N.Y.)
JC-NY-0007-0001 | JC-NY-0007-0003 | JC-NY-0007-0005 | JC-NY-0007-0006 | JC-NY-0007-0008
Mansfield, Walter Roe (Second Circuit, S.D.N.Y.)
JC-NY-0007-0002 | JC-NY-0007-0007
Timbers, William Homer (Second Circuit, D. Conn.)
JC-NY-0007-0002
Monitors/Masters None on record
Plaintiff's Lawyers Berger, Joel (New York)
JC-NY-0007-0001 | JC-NY-0007-0002 | JC-NY-0007-0003 | JC-NY-0007-0004 | JC-NY-0007-0005 | JC-NY-0007-0006 | JC-NY-0007-0007 | JC-NY-0007-0008
Carr, Edward Q. Jr. (New York)
JC-NY-0007-0007
Hellerstein, William E. (New York)
JC-NY-0007-0001 | JC-NY-0007-0002 | JC-NY-0007-0003 | JC-NY-0007-0004 | JC-NY-0007-0005 | JC-NY-0007-0006 | JC-NY-0007-0007 | JC-NY-0007-0008
Herman, Steven A. (New York)
JC-NY-0007-0001 | JC-NY-0007-0002 | JC-NY-0007-0003 | JC-NY-0007-0004 | JC-NY-0007-0005 | JC-NY-0007-0006
Mushlin, Michael B. (New York)
JC-NY-0007-0008
Neisser, Eric (New York)
JC-NY-0007-0004
Shapiro, Barbara A. (New York)
JC-NY-0007-0003 | JC-NY-0007-0007
Defendant's Lawyers Berman, David H. (New York)
JC-NY-0007-0001 | JC-NY-0007-0003 | JC-NY-0007-0005 | JC-NY-0007-0006
Bernikow, Leonard (New York)
JC-NY-0007-0001 | JC-NY-0007-0004 | JC-NY-0007-0007
Buchsbaum, Stanley (New York)
JC-NY-0007-0004
Burke, Adrian P. (New York)
JC-NY-0007-0001
Lefkowitz, Louis J. (New York)
JC-NY-0007-0001 | JC-NY-0007-0001 | JC-NY-0007-0002 | JC-NY-0007-0002 | JC-NY-0007-0003 | JC-NY-0007-0003 | JC-NY-0007-0004 | JC-NY-0007-0004 | JC-NY-0007-0005 | JC-NY-0007-0005 | JC-NY-0007-0006 | JC-NY-0007-0006 | JC-NY-0007-0007 | JC-NY-0007-0008 | JC-NY-0007-0008
London, Alan (New York)
JC-NY-0007-0008
Nachazel, John (New York)
JC-NY-0007-0001 | JC-NY-0007-0002 | JC-NY-0007-0003 | JC-NY-0007-0003 | JC-NY-0007-0004 | JC-NY-0007-0005 | JC-NY-0007-0006 | JC-NY-0007-0007
Nespole, James (New York)
JC-NY-0007-0007
Rankin, J. Lee (New York)
JC-NY-0007-0007
Redlich, Norman (New York)
JC-NY-0007-0001 | JC-NY-0007-0002 | JC-NY-0007-0003 | JC-NY-0007-0003 | JC-NY-0007-0004 | JC-NY-0007-0005 | JC-NY-0007-0006 | JC-NY-0007-0007
Reifler, Margery Evans (New York)
JC-NY-0007-0008
Richland, W. Bernard (New York)
JC-NY-0007-0002 | JC-NY-0007-0005 | JC-NY-0007-0006 | JC-NY-0007-0008 | JC-NY-0007-0008
Sheridan, Kevin (New York)
JC-NY-0007-0002 | JC-NY-0007-0004
Tobias, Donald J. (New York)
JC-NY-0007-0002 | JC-NY-0007-0005 | JC-NY-0007-0006 | JC-NY-0007-0008
Other Lawyers None on record

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