AELE LAW LIBRARY OF CASE SUMMARIES:
Corrections Law for Jails, Prisons and Detention Facilities
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A prisoner who is
a member of the Nation of Gods and Earths (NOGE), a group whose adherents
are also known as "Five Percenters" participated in a prison
riot with other members of the group in 1995, and was placed in solitary
confinement as a result, where he remained for 20 years. He claimed that
his confinement in solitary for this long violated his rights under the
Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA), 42 U.S.C.
2000cc et seq. He claimed that the state correctional policy required him
to renounce his affiliation with his religion before it would release him,
and that his procedural due process rights were also violated. The plaintiff
could not prevail on his religious exercise claim, even if his religion
was entitled to protection, as he failed to show that the department's
policy actually did require him to renounce his faith before being released
from the special management unit. But the 20-year period of solitary confinement
was held to amount to an "atypical and significant hardship in relation
to the general population," and implicated a liberty interest in avoiding
security detention. There was a triable dispute of fact as to whether the
process used for determining which prisoners were fit for release from
security detention met the minimum due process requirements. Incumaa v.
Stirling, #14-6411, 2015 U.S. App. Lexis 11321 (4th Cir.).
The Illinois Department of Juvenile Justice has agreed to new court approved policies that prohibit the punitive solitary confinement of juvenile prisoners, in a lawsuit filed by the Illinois ACLU. The lawsuit argued that protracted isolation and solitary confinement of juveniles, especially of those suffering mental illness, increased the risk of suicide and other self-harm. Under the new policy, punitive isolation is not allowed, youths separated from the general population for any non-punitive reason must be provided their ordinary education and mental health services, and youths separated for 24 hours or longer must be allowed out of their rooms, and provided an opportunity to interact with staff, for at least eight (8) hours each day. The new policies were the result of negotiations between the parties in the lawsuit and court-ordered monitors. R.J. v. Jones, #12-cv-07289, U.S. Dist. Ct. (N.D. Ill. April 24, 2015).
A prisoner's grievance that his rights were violated when he was given six months of disciplinary segregation was upheld and the disciplinary conviction overturned because insufficient details about the specific time, place or date of the incident were given and he allegedly was not allowed to see the official electronics contract forms he was accused of trafficking in or argue any defense during the hearing. In a lawsuit, he sought damages for this, as he had already served his six months of segregation by the time the discipline was overturned. He also claimed that he was improperly denied a cell with bars which he requested because of a childhood incident involving abuse and rape, making him afraid of being behind closed metal doors. He claimed he suffered mental anguish, was attacked by a cellmate, and was only taken out of his cell once a week to shower and use the yard. A federal appeals court upheld a grant of qualified immunity to the defendants as the right to avoid disciplinary segregation in a cell with a solid metal door and a confrontational cell mate for 182 days with weekly access to the shower and recreational yard was not a clearly established right in September 2009. Hardaway v. Meyerhoff, #12-2856, 2013 U.S. App. Lexis 22386 (7th Cir.).
A prisoner was in the Justice Department's Witness Security Program. Because he allegedly broke program rules by having unauthorized contact with unauthorized persons, he was terminated from the program, allegedly without notice or an opportunity to be heard. After being terminated from the program, he was placed in a segregated housing unit and kept there for 188 days. Prison officials claimed that this was administrative segregation. A federal appeals court rejected his claim that his termination from the program violated due process since he had not shown that he had a property right to be in the witness program. No process was due because the benefit of the program was not an entitlement and government officials could grant or deny it at their discretion. Because the prisoner claimed that his placement in segregation was punitive and designed to punish him for violating the program's rules, further proceedings were ordered on whether that was the case and if so, whether his Eighth Amendment rights were violated. JS v. T'Kach, #11-1287, 2013 U.S. App. Lexis 7283 (2nd Cir.).
A Wisconsin prisoner was placed in the prison's most restrictive disciplinary segregation for 240 days because he had committed misconduct while in a less restrictive disciplinary segregation environment. In his lawsuit complaining about this and the procedures used to find that he had violated the rules, the prisoner failed to show that the conditions he was placed in deprived him of constitutionally protected liberty or property. The prisoner needed to, but failed to, show that the conditions in the prison's most restrictive disciplinary segregation were more onerous than those of a high-security prison in Wisconsin, to which a prisoner may be assigned without any opportunity for a hearing. While due process requires a hearing before a prisoner loses more liberty than he lost as a result of his conviction and sentence, "the right comparison is between the ordinary conditions of a high-security prison in the state, and the conditions under which a prisoner is actually held." Marion v. Radtke, #10-2446, 2011 U.S. App. Lexis 11054 (7th Cir.).
A prisoner who received 132 disciplinary tickets for violating various rules sued over his placement in disciplinary segregation for a total of 22 months, and also claimed that his due process rights were violated in a disciplinary proceeding because he had been denied the right to call a witness. An intermediate Illinois appeals court ruled that the disciplinary segregation had not implicated any liberty interest the prisoner had under federal law. He was not subject to any "atypical and significant hardship" by his placement into disciplinary segregation compared to the general conditions in the super-maximum security prison where he was already confined. It also found that the denial of his request to call a witness did not deprive him of due process when he refused to use a required witness request form, and also sought to introduce irrelevant testimony about the alleged homosexual orientation of a guard. Taylor v. Frey, #5-08-0210, 2011 Ill. App. Lexis 28 (5th Dist.).
A prisoner placed in disciplinary custody should have been allowed to proceed with his due process claims. The trial court improperly analyzed the case under a lower standard only sufficient for restraint for administrative rather than disciplinary reasons. Claims concerning the alleged denial of assessment hearings once he was in disciplinary custody were properly rejected, however, when the prisoner himself had refused to sign the required form when presented with the opportunity for such a hearing. Pressley v. Blaine, #08-1517, 2009 U.S. App. Lexis 25405 (Unpub. 3rd Cir.).
A prisoner was placed in disciplinary segregation for 30 days after a search found a razor blade in his pocket. His segregation for possession of contraband did not violate his procedural due process rights. He did not show that he faced "atypical" or "significant" hardships in segregation. The requirement that he be handcuffed while out of his cell and the monitoring by guards of his access to resources were not significant departures from normal prison conditions. The search of the prisoner's cell and person that discovered the razor blade did not violate his rights. Shaarbay v. Palm Beach County Jail, #09-11294, 2009 U.S. App. Lexis 23404 (Unpub. 11th Cir.).
Placement of a prisoner in disciplinary segregation for 240 days following a hearing was a sufficiently long period of time to involve a constitutionally protected liberty interest provided the conditions of confinement there were severe enough. The appeals court overturned the dismissal of the prisoner's due process and equal protection lawsuit, and ordered further proceedings. Marion v. Columbia Corr. Inst., #07-2556, 2009 U.S. App. Lexis 6171 (7th Cir.).
Prisoner's placement in administrative segregation in a penitentiary Special Management Unit (SMU) was not intended to be punitive in nature, but instead to provide him, as a person who had been involved in a gang related disturbance at his prior facility, with additional program opportunities. His placement in the SMU, therefore, did not raise due process issues. His subsequent placement in disciplinary segregation in the SMU was justified by his involvement in "no less" than eighteen disciplinary incidents, and the prisoner failed to show that he faced atypical conditions while so confined. MacKey v. Strada, No. 3:CV-06-015, 2008 U.S. Dist. Lexis 86339 (M.D. Pa.).
Even if a prisoner was mistakenly kept in a special housing unit in disciplinary segregation for an additional 60 days after his transfer to a new facility, his constitutional rights were not violated when he failed to show that the conditions to which he was subjected were an "atypical and significant hardship." Anderson v. Beaver, No. 01-CV-6536, 2006 U.S. Dist. Lexis 73902 (W.D.N.Y.). [N/R]
Conditions that prisoner faced in disciplinary segregation were not severe enough to amount to a deprivation of a liberty interest, so that he could not pursue a federal civil rights claim that he had been placed in such confinement without procedural due process. Lekas v. Briley, No. 04-1420 2005 U.S. App. Lexis 7528 (7th Cir.). [2005 JB Jun]
Prisoner was not barred from pursuing his claim that his disciplinary segregation was the result of him improperly being denied the right to present witnesses at disciplinary hearing merely because his disciplinary segregation lasted only 77 days. The question of whether his conditions of confinement in disciplinary segregation were "atypical" was unknown, based on the record presented. Withrow v. Donnelly, No. 03-CV-6283L, 333 F. Supp. 2d 108 (W.D.N.Y. 2004). [N/R]
Hearing officer in disciplinary hearing which resulted in sentence of prisoner to 90 days of confinement in Special Housing Unit was not entitled to qualified immunity on prisoner's due process claim challenging alleged procedural defects in the hearing, including purported intentional erasure of a portion of a tape of the hearing containing exculpatory testimony. Palmer v. Richards, #03-290, 364 F.3d 60 (2nd Cir. 2004). [2004 JB Jul]
Prisoner who had been convicted but not yet sentenced should be treated the same as a sentenced prisoner for purposes of whether he had a liberty interest in procedural due process before being punished for alleged violation of prison rules against possession of contraband, rather than being treated as a pre-trial detainee. Federal appeals court upholds dismissal of prisoner's due process lawsuit over his placement in a punitive cell for eight hours without first being given a hearing. Tilmon v. Prator, #03-31071, 2004 U.S. App. Lexis 8961 (5th Cir.). [2004 JB Jun]
Penalty of placement in disciplinary segregation for a 15 day period with no loss of good time credits was not a sufficiently "atypical and significant" hardship that it implicated a prisoner's due process rights. Marksberry v. Chandler, No. 2002-CA-001920-MR, 126 S.W.3d 747 (Ky. App. 2004). [N/R]
U.S. Supreme Court to review issue of whether California prison practice of routinely segregating prisoners by race during initial period of incarceration is permissible for purposes of preventing racial violence, as federal appeals court ruled, or unconstitutional discrimination in violation of the right to equal protection. Johnson v. California, #03-636, 72 U.S. Law Week 3551 (March 1, 2004). [2004 JB Apr]
Prisoner who had been convicted, although not yet sentenced, had no due process liberty interest in not being placed in disciplinary segregation, and therefore was not entitled to a hearing before his placement there. Tilmon v. Prator, 292 F. Supp. 2d 898 (W.D. La. 2003). [N/R]
Prisoner's transfer to a long-term segregation unit for 120 days in disciplinary custody did not impose an "atypical and significant hardship" on him in relation to ordinary life in prison, so that no liberty interest requiring due process was involved. Brown v. Blaine, 833 A.2d 1166 (Pa. Cmwlth. 2003). [N/R]
Private corporation operating correctional facility was not liable for violating a prisoner's liberty interest by placing him in medium security status. Prisoner was not entitled to any particular status and the company's officials had explained the basis for the classification. Additionally, his placement in disciplinary segregation for committing a battery while in prison did not violate his rights when there was nothing "atypical" about the conditions in segregation. The city in which the prison was located could not be held liable for any alleged violation of the prisoner's rights when there was nothing to show that the city had any role in operating the prison. Byrd v. Cornell Corrections, Inc., No. 02-6316, 60 Fed. Appx. 191 (10th Cir. 2003). [N/R]
Prisoner's placement in segregation for three days after being found guilty of a disciplinary charge of making threatening statements did not implicate a protected liberty interest, since it was not an "atypical and significant hardship." No basis found for prisoner's race discrimination claim. Adams v. Jones, No. 02-5472, 52 Fed. Appx. 744 (6th Cir. 2002). [2003 JB May]
Prisoner could not sue for damages for alleged due process violations in prison disciplinary proceeding for hitting fellow inmates with a baseball bat or pursue claim that disciplinary charges were brought against him for racially discriminatory reasons. No such lawsuit was permitted unless the disciplinary conviction was first set aside. Prisoner's claim for habeas corpus was his proper avenue for restoration of lost good time credits, and his placement in punitive segregation for 30 days was not an "atypical and significant hardship" implicating a protected liberty interest. Portley-El v. Brill, #00-1923, 288 F.3d 1063 (8th Cir. 2002). [2002 JB Aug]
Pretrial detainee cannot be put in segregation as a punishment for a disciplinary offense without notice and an opportunity to be heard, and an issue of fact existed as to whether the detainee was placed in lockdown segregation purposes for 34 days for punishment or preventive purposes. Further, the prisoner's claim that he was placed in lockdown segregation for 11 days in retaliation for pursuing his lawsuit sufficiently stated a possible claim for violation of his rights. Higgs v. Carver, #01-1559, 286 F.3d 437 (7th Cir. 2002). [N/R]
Pretrial detainee allegedly placed in segregation for two and a half years as punishment without procedural due process could pursue constitutional claim. At the time of segregation, in 1995, the law clearly established that a pretrial detainee could only be punished for misconduct after being given some sort of procedural protection, so that defendant officials were not entitled to qualified immunity. Love v. Sheahan, 156 F. Supp. 2d 749 (N.D. Ill. 2001). [N/R]
274:157 Pre-trial detainee could be punished for misconduct while incarcerated, but was entitled to procedural protections before segregation was imposed; correctional officers were entitled to qualified immunity, however, since law on the subject was not previously clearly established. Rapier v. Harris, #97-1348, 172 F.3d 999 (7th Cir. 1999).
266:27 Prisoner's confinement in special housing unit for a period of 545 days after being found guilty of disciplinary offenses was not an "atypical, significant hardship," when conditions were generally the same as those faced by other prisoners. Vasquez v. Coughlin, 2 F.Supp.2d 255 (N.D.N.Y. 1998).
270:92 New York prisoner's confinement in disciplinary segregation for 376 days imposed an "atypical and significant" hardship which prisoner had a liberty interest in avoiding. Lee v. Coughlin, 26 F.Supp.2d 615 (S.D.N.Y. 1998).
257:77 Federal appeals court rules that trial judge should have made detailed factual findings as to whether or not prisoner's placement in disciplinary segregation imposed "atypical and significant hardship," rather than summarily ruling for defendants. Driscoll v. Youngman, 105 F.3d 393 (8th Cir. 1997). » Editor's Note: The same appeals court reached an identical result and holding in Hemphill v. Delo, 105 F.3d 391 (8th Cir. 1997), in which another Missouri prisoner claimed that he was found guilty of a disciplinary offense without due process, and then sentenced to thirty days in disciplinary segregation. As in the case reported above, the appeals court ruled that the trial court erred in summarily rejecting the prisoner's claims based on Sandin without making a factual determination that would demonstrate that the segregation "did not work a major disruption" in the prisoner's environment.
262:157 Federal trial court should not have decided that prisoner's 288 days in disciplinary segregation was not an "atypical and significant hardship" without taking into consideration the duration of the segregation and the differences between administrative and disciplinary segregation. Wright v. Coughlin, 132 F.3d 133 (2nd Cir. 1998). » Editor's Note: See also Brooks v. DiFasi, 112 F.3d 46 (2d Cir. 1997) (trial court should have considered the duration of prisoner's confinement in determining whether his punishment constituted an "atypical and significant" hardship).
[N/R] Confinement of prisoner in disciplinary segregation for 15 day period was not sufficiently serious to violate Eighth Amendment prohibition on cruel and unusual punishment. Leslie v. Doyle, 125 F.3d 1132 (7th Cir. 1997).
[N/R] Members of prison disciplinary board liable for compensatory damages of $ and punitive damages of $5,000 on claim that they allowed inmate to be held in segregation for ten days without a determination of guilt on charges that he violated prison rules; evidence showed that segregation was punitive and prison regulations required a hearing within three days. Wilson v. Philadelphia Detention Center, 986 F.Supp. 282 (E.D. Pa. 1997).
235:106 Keeping Illinois state prisoner in disciplinary segregation for 19 days longer than maximum punishment period allowed under state law did not constitute federal constitutional rights violation; forcing inmate to choose between medically requested lower bunk available in segregation unit or transfer out to protective custody unit where no such bunk was available was not cruel and unusual punishment. Williams v. Ramos, 71 F.3d 1246 (7th Cir. 1995). [Cross-reference: Medical Care].
237:140 Federal appeals court rules that Washington state prisoner had a protected liberty interest in accumulating good time credits and that the record was not sufficient to determine whether there was a liberty interest in remaining free of disciplinary segregation which was violated by alleged improprieties in disciplinary proceedings. Gotcher v. Wood, 66 F.3d 1097 (9th Cir. 1995). [Cross-reference: Prisoner Discipline].
[N/R] Prisoner's claim for damages for time spend in segregation after disciplinary charge was reversed by state court was not a frivolous claim. Muhannad v. Kinney, 51 F.3d 762 (8th Cir. 1995).
226:147 U.S. Supreme Court rules that prisoner placed in disciplinary segregation following charges of misconduct was not entitled to due process procedural protections; state regulation simply requiring that disciplinary guilt be supported by substantial evidence did not result in a state-created constitutionally protected "liberty" interest; focus in determining whether state creates a liberty interest to shift from search for mandatory language in state laws or regulations to the nature of the deprivation imposed. Sandin v. Conner, 115 S.Ct. 2293 (1995).
220:59 Prison officials' failure to release prisoner from punitive segregation when lab tests later showed that substance seized from his cell was not cocaine, but a prescription drug, did not violate prisoner's due process or Eighth Amendment rights; possession of prescription drug without doctor's prescription still violated same prison rule. Ricker v. Leapley, 25 F.3d 1406 (8th Cir. 1994).
Federal appeals court reconsiders earlier decision on placement in disciplinary confinement after transfer; prisoner released into general population when transferred to another state was not entitled to a new hearing prior to being placed back into disciplinary segregation when transferred back to original state. Pletka v. Nix, 957 F.2d 1480 (8th Cir. 1992).
Placing inmate in punitive segregation without a hearing after transfer to prison violated his due process rights. Pletka v. Nix, 943 F.2d 916 (8th Cir. 1991).
Illinois prison regulations governing minor disciplinary offenses created a "liberty interest" in having a hearing before being placed in disciplinary segregation; placement of inmate in such segregation and holding a hearing afterwards violated due process. Gilbert v. Frazier, 931 F.2d 1581 (7th Cir. 1991).
New York's highest court bars civil liability for violations over segregation. Edmonson v. State, 504 N.Y.S.2d 979 (Ct. cl. 1986).
Mail and access to court rights properly restricted. Little v. Norris, 787 F.2d 1241 (8th Cir. 1986).
Periodic review not always necessary. Grandison v. Cuyler, 600 F.Supp. 967 (E.D. Pa. 1984).
Inmate properly confined in isolation until he consents to blood test to determine venereal disease. Smallwood - El v. Coughlin, 589 F.Supp. 692 (S.D. N.Y. 1984).
No federal jurisdiction in suit challenging inmate's prison hearing. Monahan v. Wolff, 585 F.Supp. 1198 (D. Nev. 1984).
Hearing required for continued segregation. Arrington v. Wainwright, 452 So.2d 1120 (Fla. App. 1984).
One officer's written violation report serves as basis to segregate inmate; witnesses gave no reason for not testifying. White v. Wyrick, 727 F.2d 757 (8th cir. 1984).
Limited number of staff does not justify routine exclusion of inmates from disciplinary hearings when witnesses testify. People Ex Rel. McBayne v. Smith, 469 N.Y.S.2d 893 (App. 1983).
Case to proceed for determination of whether officials afforded a timely review of inmate placed in administrative segregation. Royce v. Commissioner of Correction, 456 N.E.2d 1127 (Mass. 1983).
Inmate kept in solitary isolation for five years without proper evaluation awarded damages. Burton v. Shapp, 574 F.Supp. 637 (W.D. Pa. 1983).
Inmates confined to segregation without due process. Granger v. Florida State Prison, 424 So.2d 937 (Fla. App. 1983).
Inmate pro se complaint of solitary confinement without due process was improperly dismissed; frivolity of suits discussed. Inmate complaint failed to follow procedural rules of federal district court. Boag v. MacDougall, 454 U.S. 364, 102 S.Ct. 700 (1982).
Illinois District court rules that inmate's constitutional rights were violated by placing him in punitive segregation for 18 months without a hearing; awards $5,000 damages. Black v. Brown, 524 F.Supp. 856 (N.D. Ill. 1981).
Court of appeals rules that inmate's assertion that he was arbitrarily placed in segregation and denied access to courts stated valid claim under 42 U.S.C. Section 1983. Gildoy v. Boone, 657 F.2d 1 (1st Cir. 1981).
Delaware guard captain ordered to pay inmate $680 for keeping him in solitary confinement and preventing him from answering charges about a riot. Pitts v. Kee, 511 F.Supp. 497 (D. Del. 1981). Illinois prisoners found to have protectible liberty interest in not being assigned to segregation absent a finding of major misconduct. Williams v. Franzen, 499 F.Supp. 304 (N.D. Ill. 1980).
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