Isolated Incidents: Reflections of a Correctional Officer

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Compare 29 U. Johnson Controls, U.

Isolated Incidents: Reflections of a Correctional Officer

The plaintiffs' arguments against applying the "ADEA" standard in Title VII cases--the plaintiffs do not acknowledge the lineage of the "impossible or highly impractical" standard--are not persuasive. The Johnson Controls decision concerned whether the employer's asserted BFOQ related to the "essence" of the employer's business, and did not purport to hold that an employer can establish "reasonable necessity" only by showing that "all or substantially all woman would be unable to perform safely and efficiently the duties of job involved.

The plaintiffs fail to identify the "considerations unique to the aging process" that require a departure from the usual practice of interpreting Title VII and the ADEA in identical fashion. In short, the BFOQ defense has not been reduced to a single, universally-applicable test.

The "all or substantially all" and "impossible or highly impractical" standards are, to use the language of Dothard, U. In the instant case, both standards have helped guide our analysis, but our decision does not turn on the use of either standard. Iranon, F. Iowa Dep't of Corr. These decisions teach that the reasoned decisions of prison officials are entitled to deference and that the goals of security, safety, privacy, and rehabilitation can justify gender-based assignments in female correctional facilities.

Because of the unusual responsibilities entrusted to them, the redoubtable challenges they face, and the unique resources they possess, the decisions of prison administrators are entitled to a degree of deference, even in the Title VII context. Chapman, U. To meet this daunting task, the court continued, "prison administrators always have been expected to innovate and experiment.

Unless prison administrators try new approaches, the 'intractable problems' will remain and the lot of the incarcerated individual will not improve. Indeed, it probably will deteriorate. Thus, the court concluded that, although the decisions of prison officials are not accorded as much deference in Title VII cases as they are in constitutional cases, n16 "their judgments still are entitled to substantial weight when they are the product of a reasoned decision-making process, based on available information and experience.

Tharp, 68 F. See, e.

Harper, U. Safley, U. Albers, U. In particular, "the proper standard for determining the validity of a prison regulation claimed to infringe on an inmate's constitutional rights is to ask whether the regulation is reasonably related to legitimate penological interests," even when "the constitutional right claimed to have been infringed is fundamental, and the State under other circumstances would have been required to satisfy a more rigorous standard of review.

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Behind this rule is the recognition that courts are ill equipped to deal with the increasingly urgent problems of prison administration and reform. The problems of prisons in America are complex and intractable, and, more to the point, they are not readily susceptible of resolution by decree. Running a prison is an inordinately difficult undertaking that requires expertise, planning, and the commitment of resources, all of which are peculiarly within the province of the legislative and executive branches of government.

Prison administration is, moreover, a task that has been committed to the responsibility of those branches, and separation of powers concerns counsel a policy of judicial restraint. Where a state penal system is involved, federal courts have. Turner, U. The court elaborated, The reason for this case is that Martin became director and he came to the position with a stereotypical view of the role of sex in employment in male and female prisons: males guard males and females guard females. Without consulting his staff and without a review of internal studies, national policies or the literature Martin, and Martin alone, decided the change was appropriate and the MDOC staff fell in line.

Martin had no qualifications from past training[,] employment or experience to make a reasoned judgment on the subject and his leaving corrections as a profession simply confirms this. The district court committed legal error in concluding that the MDOC had forfeited the deference normally afforded prison administrators. Cases may arise in which a prison official has acted so capriciously that his decision does not deserve deference, but the case at bar does not fall in this category. The MDOC was not obligated to follow any particular protocols in order to earn deference, and the district court applied too exacting a standard in dismissing the MDOC's deliberations as inadequate.

In effect, the district court circumvented the rule of deference by second-guessing the procedures employed by the MDOC.

Reflections from Maine State Prison

Though it did not exhaust its institutional resources, the MDOC made a considered decision that a BFOQ was necessary to address the grave problem of sexual abuse of female inmates. In the USA agreement, the MDOC agreed to study the feasibility of increasing the presence of female officers in the housing units, n17 and, in the Nunn agreement, the MDOC agreed to make a good faith effort to limit the assignment of staff in housing units to female officers.

The Securicor study, undertaken pursuant to the USA agreement, recommended that the MDOC "explore the re-deployment of all available female corrections officers. Additionally, Martin testified that he consulted with his staff about the plan prior to seeking selective certification and discussed privacy accommodations for female inmates with prison officials from other states.

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We find this conclusion, which was based solely on the fact that the approval took twelve days, unwarranted. The procedural shortcomings identified by the district court do not dictate a contrary conclusion. The district court apparently reasoned that, because Martin had a limited background in corrections, n20 because Martin did not consult with the wardens of the female facilities before adopting the plan, because the MDOC did not seek approval from the Michigan Department of Civil Rights, and because the GSAC study did not recommend a BFOQ, the plan did not reflect the institutional expertise of the MDOC and, hence, did not merit deference.

However, as discussed above, the evidence shows that Martin drew on some, though not all, of the resources and expertise of the MDOC in the course of settling the USA and Nunn lawsuits and formulating the plan. Additional reasons counsel in favor of a policy of judicial restraint: the ability of administrators to plan and muster resources, the primary nature of the executive--as opposed to the judicial--branch of government to run the prisons, and the respect owed to state sovereignty by the federal judiciary.

Turner v. These considerations apply whether or not Martin acted unilaterally. Finally, none of the irregularities identified by the district court vitiated the MDOC's decision-making process. A prison official need not run his department as a participatory democracy nor build "unanimity of opinion" to win deference.

Torres, F. Neither the district court nor the plaintiffs explain what sort of penological expertise the Michigan Department of Civil Rights would have contributed, and there was no statutory requirement that the MDOC obtain approval from the Department of Civil Rights. Viewed in proper perspective, the exclusion of males from these positions is "reasonably necessary" to "the normal operation" of the MDOC's female facilities.

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The MDOC reasonably concluded that a BFOQ would materially advance a constellation of interests related to the "essence" of the MDOC's business--the security of the prison, the safety of inmates, and the protection of the privacy rights of inmates--and reasonable alternatives to the plan have not been identified. First, the presence of males in the housing units necessitates the use of "artificial barriers to security" such as covers for cell windows, doors on the toilet stalls, shower curtains, the moratorium on pat-down searches by male officers, and the "knock and announce" policy.

He further testified that "once you abandon any part of the turf at any time or any place, you have sent a signal that this belongs to the inmates and it cannot, and once you do that, it leads to a creeping and eroding of the legitimate rights, the legitimate obligation of a prison staff to be everywhere, to be informed, to be alert. Similarly, Annabelle Romero, who worked as a consultant for the DOJ in connection with the USA Lawsuit, described the shades for cell windows as "a Bank-Aid approach" that prevents officers from "accomplishing percent of their duties" and "creates a security hazard for both the officers and the inmates.

Likewise, Director Martin testified that "any time you put barriers in a facility from observation, direct observation, it puts I think inmates and staff at certain risk. For instance, if a window curtain is up on a cell door and an officer, male or female, it doesn't matter, can't see in, there's no way we can intervene in a suicide attempt because we don't know that's going on.

We just don't know what's behind it, and it seems contrary then to other recommendation that you put windows in other doors [so] that you can always see in. Finally, Joan Yukins, the warden of the Scott Facility, criticized "tying the hands of male corrections officers in the housing units" by means of the shades for cell windows and the moratorium, on "pat-down" searches. She stated that she thought "we can function better in those housing units with females in there being able to look over the curtains, go into bathrooms, go into the showers if necessary, pat down the prisoners in the housing units where they live.

Mahoney, an expert for the DOJ in the USA lawsuit and the author of the Mahoney report, testified that "the nature of [the] atmosphere in the correctional facility really relies upon the relationship between staff and prisoners, and allegations even when falsely made and in some cases particularly when falsely made can have a negative impact on that kind of an atmosphere. It increas[es] friction.

It increases mistrust. It puts both staff and inmates in to a 'we and they' game, and I think in those situations it only serves to. Relatedly, Patrick McManus, a corrections consultant responsible for monitoring the MDOC's compliance with the USA agreement, testified that "prisons need to have a level of trust, confidence, comfort between staff and prisoners if they are going to function well," and that "it was in [the housing units] that the mistrust, the fear between the female prisoners and the male staff, was the most prominent and where it was likely to be the most corrosive.

Similarly, Director Martin testified that allegations create "friction between staff and prisoners that is counterproductive to safety and security in the prison.

Confessions of a Correctional Officer Pt 2

Finally, Yukins testified that "allegations of sexual misconduct by female [inmates] on the male officers have a very detrimental effect to the institution and to the employees and the prisoners. Sullivan, a corrections professional who had served as an expert for the DOJ in the USA lawsuit, testified that, in conversations with male officers at the Wayne Facility, the officers "were very candid in expressing their serious concerns, seeming even fearful of doing their jobs in the women's housing units risking a sexual harassment charge against them by female inmates.

He opined that "male staff generally in women's prisons around the country, and especially at Western Wayne, do not, and will not and in my opinion should not conduct the security searches and procedures necessary to assure control over escape devices, weapons, illicit drugs, drug paraphernalia, and other serious contraband within the living spaces of female inmates.


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Likewise, Camp testified that male officers "are tentative, that they are perhaps reluctant to engage female prisoners in a way that they would males to find out what was going on in a professional way, to be alert to the events in the institution or in the housing unit, to make rounds. Finally, Mahoney testified that "in order to run a facility, you have to supervise prisoners, and that requires observation on a regular basis.

When staff may feel reluctant, particularly male staff, to view females in a state of undress, in the use of toilet facilities, in dressing, and other kinds of situations, they may reluctantly, not pursue vigorously their supervision requirements because of the natural reluctance to not do that.