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Case Name Detainees of Brooklyn House of Detention for Men v. Malcolm JC-NY-0022
Docket / Court 73-C-261 ( E.D.N.Y. )
State/Territory New York
Case Type(s) Jail Conditions
Case Summary
In February of 1973, this class action lawsuit was filed under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York, on behalf of detainees at the Brooklyn House of Detention for Men in New York City against New York City and its Commissioner of Correction. ... read more >
In February of 1973, this class action lawsuit was filed under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York, on behalf of detainees at the Brooklyn House of Detention for Men in New York City against New York City and its Commissioner of Correction. The plaintiffs, represented by the Legal Aid Society Prisoners' Rights Society, sought injunctive relief for the conditions of their incarceration. The plaintiffs' alleged violation of their constitutional rights on two fronts: overcrowding and the jail's proscription of all contact visits.

To cope with overcrowding, the Brooklyn House of Detention for Men resorted to "double celling," a practice of housing two inmates in a single-occupancy cell. Similar claims made by detainees at the Queens House of Detention were joined for adjudication. On October 2, 1974, the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York (Judge Orrin Grimmell Judd) held that double celling violated detainees' equal protection and due process, including privacy, rights and ordered the city discontinue the practice by March 1, 1975.

The Second Circuit Court of Appeals (District Judge John Reis Bartels, sitting by designation) affirmed the district court's findings of fact and legal conclusions. Detainees of Brooklyn House of Detention for Men v. Malcolm, 520 F.2d 329 (2d Cir. 1975). In its decision, the Court of Appeals relied on Rhem v. Malcolm, 507 F.2d 333 (2d Cir. 1974) (JC-NY-0007), which addressed similar concerns at the Manhattan House of Detention ("the Tombs"). The Court of Appeals adjudged the order too broad, however, because it reached all inmates, not just those awaiting trial. The Court of Appeals also held that federal courts could order the city to release some detainees, but could not mandate construction of new jails.

The plaintiffs' second claim, that their constitutionally protected rights were violated by the jail's policy prohibiting contact with detainees, was heard independently. The jail claimed that its policy facilitated visitation and assured jail security. The United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York (Judge Henry Bramwell) held that the jail's broad ban on contact visits was an impermissible violation of detainees' equal protection and due process rights. Detainees of Brooklyn House of Detention for Men v. Malcolm, 421 F. Supp. 832 (E.D.N.Y. 1976). The district court reasoned that jail security could be maintained by proscribing contact visits only for the detainees it classified as security risks. The district court (Judge Bramwell) ordered the city to submit a plan for classification and contact visits within ninety days and allotted fourteen days for the plaintiffs to respond. A conference between the parties was scheduled for February 3, 1977.

We do not have the docket, pleadings, or record of any subsequent proceedings, but according to the website of the Legal Aid Society of New York, at some point the matter was consolidated with Benjamin v. Malcolm for enforcement purposes; see that case for more details for subsequent decades of litigation.

Elizabeth Chilcoat - 05/18/2006


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Affected Gender
Male
Crowding
Crowding / caseload
General
Classification / placement
Visiting
Type of Facility
Government-run
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. § 1983
Defendant(s) Brooklyn House of Detention for Men
Plaintiff Description detainees at the Brooklyn House of Detention for Men in New York City
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
Order Duration 1974 - n/a
Case Ongoing No reason to think so
Case Listing JC-NY-0007 : Rhem v. Malcolm (S.D.N.Y.)
JC-NY-0002 : Benjamin v. Horn (S.D.N.Y.)
Docket(s)
No docket sheet currently in the collection
General Documents
Reported Opinion (520 F.2d 392)
JC-NY-0022-0002.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 07/31/1975
Source: Google Scholar
Reported Opinion (421 F.Supp. 832) (E.D.N.Y.)
JC-NY-0022-0001.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 10/08/1976
Source: Google Scholar
Judges Bartels, John Ries (E.D.N.Y.)
JC-NY-0022-0002
Bramwell, Henry (E.D.N.Y.)
JC-NY-0022-0001
Lumbard, Joseph Edward (Second Circuit)
JC-NY-0022-0002
Oakes, James Lowell (D. Vt., Second Circuit)
JC-NY-0022-0002
Plaintiff's Lawyers Berger, Joel (New York)
JC-NY-0022-0001 | JC-NY-0022-0002
Hellerstein, William E. (New York)
JC-NY-0022-0001 | JC-NY-0022-0002
Herman, Steven A. (New York)
JC-NY-0022-0002
Mushlin, Michael B. (New York)
JC-NY-0022-0001 | JC-NY-0022-0002
Neisser, Eric (New York)
JC-NY-0022-0001
Defendant's Lawyers Lefkowitz, Mark D (New York)
JC-NY-0022-0002
Richland, W. Bernard (New York)
JC-NY-0022-0001 | JC-NY-0022-0002
Tobias, Donald J. (New York)
JC-NY-0022-0001 | JC-NY-0022-0002

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