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WILLIAMS v. ICC COMM.

August 31, 1992

VERNON WILLIAMS, Plaintiff,
v.
ICC COMMITTEE, WARDEN VASQUEZ, SARGEANT WELLS, East Block, and OFFICER MAYBERRY, Defendants.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: ROBERT F. PECKHAM

 Plaintiff Vernon Williams, an African-American inmate at San Quentin prison has filed a complaint under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 alleging that he has been targeted by white prison personnel and treated inhumanely due to his race and his filing of legal actions challenging his conviction and conditions of confinement. Specifically, Mr. Williams alleges that he has been kept in administrative segretation without proper justification. In addition, he claims that prison officials took his glasses away from him despite his classification as legally blind. He also claims to have been deprived of his legal materials which he requires in order to respond to this court's grant of leave to amend a previous complaint. He also claims to have been denied the opportunity to make "legal phone calls". He further claims to have been deprived of toilet paper, soap and towel, and his food package. Finally, he claims that prison officials confiscated a letter written to him by his mother.

 plaintiff seeks injunctive relief to stop this allegedly cruel and unusual treatment and further requests that this court order the return of his glasses and legal materials and other property.

 Plaintiff is granted leave to proceed with this action in forma pauperis pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915.

 1. Deprivation of Eyeglasses:

 Deliberate indifference to serious medical needs is sufficient to state a claim for violation of the eighth amendment proscription against cruel and unusual punishment. Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 104, 50 L. Ed. 2d 251, 97 S. Ct. 285 (1976); Jones v. Johnson, 781 F.2d 769, 771 (9th Cir. 1986). Such indifference may appear when prison officials deny, delay or intentionally interfere with medical treatment. Hutchinson v. United States, 838 F.2d 390, 394 (9th Cir. 1988); Hunt v. Dental Department, 865 F.2d 198 (9th Cir. 1989) (delay of three months in providing dentures to inmate suffering serious dental problems appears to have been more than an isolated occurrence of neglect, from the facts it could be reasonably concluded that the delay was deliberate; summary judgment reversed and remanded).

 This court finds plaintiff's allegation that he has been deliberately deprived his eyeglasses although he is legally blind to state a cognizable claim for the deliberate indifference to medical needs.

 2. Access to Legal Property:

 The due process clause guarantees prisoners a constitutional right of meaningful access to the courts. Bounds v. Smith, 430 U.S. 817, 821, 52 L. Ed. 2d 72, 97 S. Ct. 1491 (1977); Sands v. Lewis, 886 F.2d 1166 (9th Cir. 1989); Storseth v. Spellman, 654 F.2d 1349, 1352 (9th Cir. 1981). The Second Circuit has stated that the denial of access to legal documents prepared by a pro se inmate constitutes a violation of the constitutional right to meaningful access to the courts. Morello v. James, 810 F.2d 344 (2nd Cir. 1987).

 Plaintiff alleges that he has been deprived of his legal papers and that this deprivation has left him unable to amend his complaint in another action as directed by this court. This court finds this allegation to state a cognizable claim for relief under Section 1983.

 3. Deprivation of Soap and Toiletpaper:

 Prison officials must provide all prisoners with the basic necessities of life including food, clothing, shelter, sanitation, medical care and personal safety. Hoptowit v. Ray, 682 F.2d 1237, 1246 (9th Cir. 1982), on appeal, after remand, Hoptowit v. Spellman, 753 F.2d 779 (9th Cir. 1985). This does not mean, however, that this court can or should interfere whenever prisoners are inconvenienced or suffer de minimus injuries. Hernandez v. Denton, 861 F.2d 1421, 1424 (9th Cir. 1988) (allegation that inmate slept without a mattress for one night is insufficient to state an eighth amendment violation), vacated on other grds, 110 S. Ct. 37 (1989).

 This court considers the deliberate denial of toiletpaper and soap for any extended period to be more significant than a de minimus intrusion and certainly to constitute a denial of the "minimal civilized measure of life's necessities". See Rhodes v. Chapman, 452 U.S. 337, 101 S. Ct. 2392, 2399, 69 L. Ed. 2d 59 (1981). Such deprivation constitutes a denial of the basic necessity of proper sanitation ...


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