The U. S. Supreme Court refused Monday to free authorities at a Florida prison from a federal judge's order aimed at reducing the number of inmate rapes.
The justices, without comment, turned down arguments that said the judge usurped prison officials' authority because his order "intruded into the sphere of administrative minutiae."
The appeal contended that conditions at the Glades Correctional Institution in Palm Beach County do not amount to cruel and unusual punishment because they were not caused by officials' deliberate indifference.
Bill Thurber, deputy secretary of Florida's Department of Corrections, said from Tallahassee that the suit was filed in 1982 and that since then many changes have been made at the prison that meet the judge's criteria.
"We have stabilized the work force and brought in more supervision," said Thurber, adding that there used to be a high turnover in guards at Glades.
A group of inmates filed the initial suit, claiming that prison officials were not protecting them from physical and sexual assaults and intimidation by other inmates.
After several rounds of litigation, U. S. District Judge James C. Paine ordered prison officials to:
Have guards regularly patrol dorms and confinement areas.
Expand the use of metal detectors.
Conduct regular shakedown searches of inmates and take disciplinary action against those inmates found to possess contraband.
The 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld Paine's order in July, but set aside a portion of it that ordered officials to discipline guards for violating the mandates.
In the appeal acted on Monday, prison officials said a judicial order was unjustified.