JohnsonvCalif - No 03636 GARRISON S JOHNSON PETITIONER v...

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No. 03—636 GARRISON S. JOHNSON, PETITIONER v. CALIFORNIA et al. ON WRIT OF CERTIORARI TO THE UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE NINTH CIRCUIT [February 23, 2005] Justice O’Connor delivered the opinion of the Court. The California Department of Corrections (CDC) has an unwritten policy of racially segregating prisoners in double cells in reception centers for up to 60 days each time they enter a new correctional facility. We consider whether strict scrutiny is the proper standard of review for an equal protection challenge to that policy. I A CDC institutions house all new male inmates and all male inmates transferred from other state facilities in reception centers for up to 60 days upon their arrival. During that time, prison officials evaluate the inmates to determine their ultimate placement. Double-cell assignments in the reception centers are based on a number of factors, predominantly race. In fact, the CDC has admitted that the chances of an inmate being assigned a cellmate of another race are “ ‘[p]retty close’ ” to zero percent. App. to Pet. for Cert. 3a. The CDC further subdivides prisoners within each racial group. Thus, Japanese-Americans are housed separately from Chinese-Americans, and Northern California Hispanics are separated from Southern California Hispanics. The CDC’s asserted rationale for this practice is that it is necessary to prevent violence caused by racial gangs. Brief for Respondents 1—6. It cites numerous incidents of racial violence in CDC facilities and identifies five major prison gangs in the State: Mexican Mafia, Nuestra Familia, Black Guerilla Family, Aryan Brotherhood, and Nazi Low Riders. Id ., at 2. The CDC also notes that prison-gang culture is violent and murderous. Id ., at 3. An associate warden testified that if race were not considered in making initial housing assignments, she is certain there would be racial conflict in the cells and in the yard. App. 215a. Other prison officials also expressed their belief that violence and conflict would result if prisoners were not segregated. See, e.g., id., at 305a—306a. The CDC claims that it must therefore segregate all inmates while it determines whether they pose a danger to others. See Brief for Respondents 29. With the exception of the double cells in reception areas, the rest of the state prison facilities–dining areas, yards, and cells–are fully integrated. After the initial 60-day period, prisoners are allowed to choose their own cellmates. The CDC usually grants inmate requests to be housed together, unless there are security reasons for denying them. B Garrison Johnson is an African-American inmate in the custody of the CDC. He has been incarcerated since 1987 and, during that time, has been housed at a number of California prison facilities. Fourth Amended Complaint 3, Record, Doc. No. 78. Upon his arrival at Folsom prison in 1987, and each time he was transferred to a new facility thereafter, Johnson was double-celled with another African-American inmate. See
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This note was uploaded on 11/15/2011 for the course CJ 471 taught by Professor Christophersmith during the Fall '10 term at Michigan State University.

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JohnsonvCalif - No 03636 GARRISON S JOHNSON PETITIONER v...

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