As convicted killer Charles Phillips typed in the smoky light of his solitary cell in Lorton's maximum security section last year, he had no idea the suit he was drafting to protest violent conditions would put one more crimp in the District's attempts to cut the city budget.

But, Tuesday, acting on a request from the inmates that grew out of the same lawsuit, a federal judge temporarily blocked the city administration's plans to lay off 20 guards in the maximum security section to save $140,000 this year.

The city managed to get part of that decision reversed late yesterday when the federal appeals court said officials did not have to withdraw "pink slips" already sent to 14 of the 20 guards, terminating their jobs as of May 17. Another court hearing is scheduled Friday.

To help with the District's projected $172.4 million budget deficit, the Department of Corrections had intended to lay off 225 employes before the end of this month, 149 of whom were prison guards. And though Tuesday's ruling affectd only the Lorton guards, there were indications this week that similar court actions on Lorton's larger central facility, the D. C. jail and the Lorton Youth Center, will soon be filed.

The judge's actions were, in a sense, a legal triumph lawyers who drafted the suit in Lorton's tough Cell Block 3.

But the 29-year-old Phillips said, tugging on his braided goatee, their first victory was a hollow one: "Right now we feel like we're being used," he said.

Jeffrey Jackson, another of the 12, and Phillips submitted affidavits considered in the Tuesday ruling saying, in effect, that any reduction in the guard force at the prison would only increase violence.

"Our case is important now because it has been used to stop a budget cut," said Jackson, 23, who is serving consecutive terms of 5 to 15 years for armed robbery and 20 years for slaughter.

"Sure we care about the guards getting -- fired we care about a man and his family," said Jackson. "But our case is about human rights, rights we don't have here in prison."

In the dog-eared misspelled complaint, Phillips, who is serving 36 years to life for killing an off-duty D. C. police detective in a dispute over a woman, and his fellow inmates chronicled their lives at Lorton. In a Plug Penny . . . they are living in 'PERILOUSLY' conditions. They acknowledge like we acknowledge, that we cannot go to sleep at night without thinking that someone might stab you in you sleep. . .

"Inmates in this institution are made very parania and very schizophrenia . . . The environment we are made to live in have made everyone this way. Inmates now feel that they must carry, a weapones in order that they can give some kind of protection to their own life. . .

In their complant, the inmates asked the court to order Lorton officials to confiscate all weapons, stop homosexual activities and narcotics traffic and make conditions safer in the maximum security section. They requested "money damages" and asked the court to stop "permitting the killing and injury to the life and health of all inmates."

The inmates contend that it is the lack of facilities which have led to problems at the prison.

"The educational opportunities are lacking . . . All you can do is stay in your cell watch TV, walk up and down or play checkers or play basketball or run around the track until you go crazy," Phillip said.

"If we ask for a disco band or a picnic, we can get that, but we can't get any help in developing anything useful in ourselves to help us when we go outside," said Jackson, his voice rising.

"I'm saying they think we're nothing but a piece of meat. They lock us up and throw away the key. I'm saying we need things that will help a brother. We need programs and seminars and committees. I'm saying when a brother get out of here, and beg? No, the brothers are proud. They're not gonna ask for things. They're gonna take and they're gonna land up right back in here.

"We've been screaming for years about it. Change, change, help, help, but no one seems to hear."

Jackson said it was this kind of frustration, the fear that chokes men who feel they no longer have control over their lives, that prompted the suit.

On Tuesday morning, at 7:45 a.m., last April 24, the residents of Cell Block 4 were undergoing their third "shakedown" in 48 hours as guards searched the cells along the two tiers for weapons and contraband. "Fifteen minutes after the search was completed word spread through the block that one of the inmates, Charles Hill, had just been stabbed twice by a hooded assailant while he slept in his cot.

"They carried the dude out," Phillips recalls," and called for another shakedown. But we said, 'no man,' that they obviously weren't doing any good. We said we wanted everybody strip-searched. They didn'ts want the guards on the tiers while we were out of the cells. But we were insisting we wouldn't move."

The standoff lasted eight hours as inmates appealed for a strip-search. "They stalled us and stalled us," Phillips said. "All we wanted was our human rights to safety . . . Finally they sent in the storm troopers with helmets and billy clubs and told us to go back to our cells. We refused and they carried us 12 brothers out."

Phillips and the others was taken to Cell Block 3, the punitive segregation block, "the tightest block within these walls," Phillips said.

They were there 65 days. During that time, inmates smuggled them law books and legal paper. The suit was drafted.

After two days of research, the complaints were typed and passed to a visitor, who took them to D.C. Superior Court Judge Bruce Mencher. Mencher assigned the law firm of Covington and Burling as the inmates' counsel, and attorneys redrafted the complaints and filed them on U.S. District Court. Action on the case is continuing.

So for now, Phillips and Jackson are waiting. They know the judicial process moves slowly, but say they are used to that.

"We just hope we can bring the public's and the court's attention to us as human beings with the hope that we could have the people in government intervene and guarantee some type of human rights that we feel are entitled to us as human beings," said Phillips. "Just because we have been charged with crimes doesn't just swept under the table."