Robinson v. Alabama Department of Corrections et al (INMATE2)

Filing 7

REPORT AND RECOMMENDATIONS re 1 Inmate 1983 Complaint filed by Robert Junior Robinson; It is the Recommendation of the Mag Judge that Plaintiff's complaint be dismissed prior to service of process pursuant to the provisions of 28 USC 1915(e)(2)(B)(i) and (iii); Objections to R&R due by 1/26/2009. Signed by Honorable Wallace Capel, Jr on 1/13/09. (vma, )

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IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT F O R THE MIDDLE DISTRICT OF ALABAMA N O R T H E R N DIVISION ____________________________ R O B E R T JUNIOR ROBINSON, # 1 7 1 121 P l a in tif f , v. A L A B A M A DEPARTMENT OF C O R R E C T IO N S , et al., D e f e n d a n ts . ____________________________ * * * * * 2:08-CV-945-MEF (WO) R E C O M M E N D A T I O N OF THE MAGISTRATE JUDGE In this 42 U.S.C. 1983 action, Plaintiff, a state inmate incarcerated at the Frank Lee Y o u th Center located in Deatsville, Alabama, complains that Defendants failed to place him in an appropriate prison rehabilitative program which impacted his ability to be placed on w o rk release where he could have earned funds to pay off fines. Plaintiff names as d e f e n d a n t s the Alabama Department of Corrections, Warden Parker, Mrs. Owens, C o m m is s io n e r Richard Allen, Warden Levan Thomas, and Mrs. Hester. He seeks $ 2 0 ,0 0 0 .0 0 in damages for pain and suffering and "lies on [Defendants'] part." (Doc. No. 1 .) Upon review of the complaint, the court concludes that dismissal of Plaintiff's complaint p rio r to service of process is proper under 28 U.S.C. 1915(e)(2)(B).1 1 A prisoner who is allowed to proceed in forma pauperis in this court will have his complaint screened in accordance with the provisions of 28 U.S.C. 1915(e)(2)(B). This screening procedure requires the court to dismiss a prisoner's civil action prior to service of process if it determines that the complaint is frivolous, malicious, fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or seeks monetary damages from I. FACTS D u rin g a progress review hearing in June 2008 Plaintiff was informed by Defendant O w e n s that he had been court-ordered to participate in a SAP ["substance abuse program"] p ro g ra m . Plaintiff disputes this maintaining rather that classification personnel and Warden P a rk e r had recommended him for the "ATEF" program. According to the evidence filed in s u p p o rt of Plaintiff's complaint, although he was recommended for community custody, he w a s unable to participate in work release because he refused to participate in the SAP p r o g ra m and did not have enough time left on his sentence to participate in the ATEF p rog ram .2 The court understands Plaintiff to challenge prison personnel's failure to ensure h is placement in an appropriate prison rehabilitative program for purposes of making him e lig ib le for placement on work release where he would have had the ability to earn income a n d pay off fines. (Doc. No. 1 at 2-4 and attachment.) II. DISCUSSION A . The Alabama Department of Corrections T h e Alabama Department of Corrections is not subject to suit or liability under 1 9 8 3 . The Eleventh Amendment bars suit directly against a state or its agencies, regardless o f the nature of relief sought. Papasan v. Allain, 478 U.S. 265 (1986); Pennhurst State S c h o o l & Hosp. v. Halderman, 465 U.S. 89 (1984). Thus, Plaintiff's claims against the a defendant who is immune from such relief. 28 U.S.C. 1915(e)(2)(B)(i)-(iii). 2 Plaintiff is scheduled for release on February 10, 2009. (See Doc. No. 1 at attachment.) 2 A D O C are "based on an indisputably meritless legal theory," and are, therefore, subject to d is m is s a l as frivolous under 28 U.S.C. 1915(e)(2)(B)(i). See Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 3 1 9 , 327 (1989). B. Respondeat Superior P la in tif f makes no specific allegations against Defendant Allen. To the extent Plaintiff s e e k s to impose liability on this defendant on the basis of respondeat superior, he is entitled to no relief. The law is well settled that a defendant cannot be held liable in an action b ro u g h t pursuant to 42 U.S.C. 1983 under the theory of respondeat superior or on the basis o f vicarious liability. Monell v. Dep't of Social Servs., 436 U.S. 658, 690-92 (1978); Harris v . Ostrout, 65 F.3d 912, 917 (11 th Cir. 1995); Belcher v. City of Foley, 30 F.3d 1390, 1396 (1 1 th Cir. 1994); LaMarca v. Turner, 995 F.2d 1526, 1538 (11 th Cir. 1993). In light of the f o re g o in g , the court concludes that Plaintiff's claims against Defendant Allen lack an a rg u a b le basis in law and are, therefore, subject to summary dismissal in accordance with the d ire c tiv e s of 28 U.S.C. 1915(e)(2)(B)(i). Neitzke, 490 U.S. at 327. C . Due Process T h e Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States C o n stitu tio n provides that no state "shall deprive any person of life, liberty, or property w ith o u t due process of law." Thus, the Constitution is implicated only if a person is deprived o f an interest which is in some way protected by the Due Process Clause. In Sandin v. C o n n e r, 515 U.S. 472 (1995), the Supreme Court abandoned its former methodology for 3 d eterm ining the existence of a liberty interest. Under such previous case law, a federal court a sc e rta in e d whether a state created a constitutionally protected liberty interest by parsing lan g u a g e of statutes and regulations to determine if the language was "of an unmistakably m a n d a to ry character" placing "substantive limitations on official discretion." Id. at 480. The S a n d i n Court held, however, that federal courts must instead look to the nature of the re stra in t imposed, rather than statutory or regulatory language, to determine if a state created a liberty interest. F o llo w in g Wolff,3 we recognize that States may under certain circumstances c re a te liberty interests which are protected by the Due Process Clause. . . But th e se interests will be generally limited to freedom from restraint which, while n o t exceeding the sentence in such an unexpected manner as to give rise to p ro te c tio n by the Due Process Clause of its own force, . . . nonetheless imposes atyp ical and significant hardship on the inmate in relation to the ordinary in c id e n ts of prison life. 5 1 5 U.S. at 483-484 (1995) (footnote added) (citations omitted). Moreover, the Court s p e c if ic a lly rejected the contention that any action taken by correctional officials as a p u n itiv e measure necessarily encroaches upon a liberty interest protected under the Due P ro c e s s Clause. Id. at 484. H e re , the court understands Plaintiff to argue that the correctional defendants violated h is right to due process by failing to ensure his proper and/or timely participation in r e h a b ilita t i v e prison programs for purposes of making him eligible for work release p la c em e n t. The law is well-settled that an inmate in the Alabama prison system has no state- 3 Wolff v. McDonnell, 418 U.S. 539 (1974). 4 c re a te d liberty interest which entitles him to participation in favorable prison programs or w o rk release. See Sandin, 515 U.S. at 484; Francis v. Fox, 838 F.2d 1147, 1149 (11 th Cir. 1 9 8 8 ). See also Kitchen v. Upshaw, 286 F.3d 179, 188 (4 th Cir. 2002) (inmate denied p erm issio n to participate in work release has no constitutionally protected interest in work re lea se because "it is clear that being denied permission to leave jail in order to work is n o th in g more than an ordinary experience of inmates."); Codd v. Brown, 949 F.2d, 879 (6 th C ir. 1991) (prisoners have no inherent due process interest in work release). Moreover, an in m a te confined in the Alabama prison system has no constitutionally protected interest in th e procedures affecting a change in his classification level because any resulting restraint, w ith o u t more, does not impose an "atypical and significant hardship on the inmate in relation to the ordinary incidents of prison life." Sandin, 515 U.S. at 484. Because Plaintiff's claims re g a rd in g his classification and/or his failure to be placed in rehabilitative prison programs o r work release fail to state a constitutional violation, they are due to be dismissed under the p ro v is io n s of 28 U.S.C. 1915(e)(2)(B)(i). III. CONCLUSION A cc o rd in g ly, it is the RECOMMENDATION of the Magistrate Judge that Plaintiff's c o m p la in t be DISMISSED prior to service of process pursuant to the provisions of 28 U.S.C. 1915(e)(2)(B)(i) and (iii). It is further ORDERED that on or before January 26, 2009 the parties may file objections to the 5 R e c o m m e n d a tio n . Any objections filed must clearly identify the findings in the Magistrate J u d g e 's Recommendation to which a party objects. Frivolous, conclusive or general o b jec tio n s will not be considered by the District Court. The parties are advised that this R e c o m m e n d a tio n is not a final order of the court and, therefore, it is not appealable. F a ilu re to file written objections to the proposed findings and advisements in the M a g is tra te Judge's Recommendation shall bar the party from a de novo determination by the D is tric t Court of issues covered in the Recommendation and shall bar the party from a tta c k in g on appeal factual findings in the Recommendation accepted or adopted by the D is tric t Court except upon grounds of plain error or manifest injustice. Nettles v. W a in w r ig h t, 677 F.2d 404 (5 th Cir. 1982). See Stein v. Reynolds Securities, Inc., 667 F.2d 3 3 (11 th Cir. 1982). See also Bonner v. City of Prichard, 661 F.2d 1206 (11 th Cir. 1981) (en b a n c ), adopting as binding precedent all decisions of the former Fifth Circuit handed down prior to the close of business on September 30, 1981. D o n e , this 13 th day of January 2009. /s / Wallace Capel, Jr. WALLACE CAPEL, JR. U N IT E D STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE 6

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