Wallace v. Baldwin et al
ORDER: Plaintiff's Motion for Preliminary Injunction (Doc. 170 ) is DENIED. Signed by Judge David W. Dugan on 2/18/2021. (bps)
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IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF ILLINOIS
MAURICE L. WALLACE,
KIM BUTLER, et al.
Case No. 17-cv-0576-DWD
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
DUGAN, District Judge:
Plaintiff Maurice Wallace, an inmate of the Illinois Department of Corrections
(“IDOC”) currently incarcerated in Menard Correctional Center (“Menard”), brings this
action for deprivations of his constitutional rights pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, the
Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”) and Rehabilitation Act (“RA”). Before the
Court is Plaintiff’s Motion for Preliminary Injunction related to Plaintiff’s potential
release from segregation. 1 (Doc. 170). The Defendants filed a Response in opposition.
An evidentiary hearing on the Motion was held on January 19, 2021.
The parties use various other terms for the housing arrangement—Plaintiff prefers “solitary confinement”
while IDOC has recently adopted the terminology of “restrictive housing.” In modern Seventh Circuit and
Illinois jurisprudence, the term “segregation” is most commonly used, and the Court will continue to use
that term until the Seventh Circuit directs otherwise.
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Supplemental briefing was submitted by each side as well. (Docs. 208 and 209). Plaintiff’s
Motion is DENIED.
Plaintiff has been held in segregation since 2006, and Plaintiff filed this case in part
seeking his release from segregation. (Doc. 152, p. 40). In 2020, IDOC informed Plaintiff
and his counsel that he would be scheduled for release into the general population in
December 2020. (Doc. 171, p. 4). IDOC’s plan for transitioning Plaintiff appears to
involve a six-week program, during which Plaintiff will have 90 minutes twice per week
in general population and a one-day seminar course on life skills. (Ex. A, Slide 4). It also
provides for removal from the transition program for disciplinary infractions. (Id., Slide
Defendants state that Plaintiff has been seeing an on-site clinical social worker
(Carri Morris) on a bi-monthly basis since July 2020 in preparation for the transition to
general population. (Doc. 188, p. 4). These half-hour to hour-long sessions focus on
Plaintiff’s transition, including “coping mechanisms and techniques for dealing with
anxiety and high stress.” (Id.). Plaintiff is also permitted to leave his cell for certain other
activities. (Id., p. 5). Plaintiff, who is designated Seriously Mentally Ill (“SMI”), also has
monthly appointments with a clinical psychiatrist, Dr. Poteat.
Menard staff have formulated a Mental Health Master Treatment Plan (“Treatment
Plan”), which outlines the specifics of Plaintiff’s mental health interventions. (Doc. 193).
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Plaintiff is expected to remain in a single-occupancy cell during his transition, and to
continue being seen by Morris after being placed in general population. (Doc. 188., pp.
5-6). Additionally, IDOC has promulgated a new policy requiring an individualized
“transition and stabilization plan” for offenders moving from restrictive housing to
general population, developed by a Restrictive Housing Review Committee comprised
of medical, security, clinical, mental health and administrative staff. (Id., p. 5).
Major Rowland provided testimony that he oversees the North 2 cellhouse where
Plaintiff is housed and has known him since 2006. (Doc. 207, p. 17). He prepared a
Restrictive Housing Transition and Stabilization Plan (“Transition Plan”) for Plaintiff in
consultation with Morris. (Id., pp. 21-22). Under the Transition Plan, Plaintiff was moved
within North 2 from disciplinary segregation to a larger administrative detention cell.
(Id., p. 22). This was considered advantageous because of Plaintiff’s familiarity with
North 2 staff, and the Transition Plan calls for him to remain single-celled during the
transition. (Preliminary Injunction Hearing Exhibit 2). The Transition Plan also requires
Plaintiff to attend group therapy sessions, be seen by a mental health professional
(“MHP”) regularly, and complete a number of programs such as Anxiety Management,
Conflict Resolution and Anger Management. (Id.). A description provided to Plaintiff
by Morris defines successful completion as at least 90% attendance, active engagement
(Preliminary Injunction Hearing Exhibit 3).
Were he to get a
disciplinary ticket during the transition program, Major Rowland testified that he would
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not be moved back to segregation but would remain in the administrative detention cell
for whatever penalty time he was required to serve. (Doc. 207, pp. 32-33).
Carri Morris testified that she did not have any special training on the effects of
segregation on prisoners other than internal PowerPoint presentations. (Doc. 207, p. 38).
Rowland and Morris each testified that Plaintiff’s Transition Plan was created without
consultation with any physicians or psychiatrists. (Id., pp. 36-37). Morris did consult
with her supervising psychologist, Dr. Reister, on transition plans in general. (Id., p. 45).
Morris also testified that the programs she selected for Plaintiff’s Transition Plan were
formulated or approved by Wexford Health Sources, but that she had not vetted them
with a psychiatrist or psychologist. (Id., p. 43).
Plaintiff submitted an unsigned report from his retained expert, Dr. Stuart
Grassarian. (Doc. 176). The report discusses in some depth the overall psychological
effects long-term segregation or solitary confinement can have on prisoners, and the
psychological effects prolonged segregation has had on Plaintiff in particular. Dr.
Grassian is a psychiatrist and was recognized without objection as an expert on the
psychological effects of solitary confinement on prisoners in general. (Doc. 207, pp. 5355, 59). He interviewed Plaintiff twice in 2019 regarding his specific situation. (Doc. 207,
Dr. Grassian testified at some length regarding Plaintiff’s current psychological
issues, including suicidality, major depression, auditory hallucinations telling him it is
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“kill or be killed,” threatening visual hallucinations and “vaguely delusional thinking[.]”
(Doc. 207, pp. 59-61). He agreed that returning Plaintiff to general population without a
transition program would be extremely harmful. (Id., p. 61). He described the important
features of such a “step-down” program for transition as normalizing the experience in a
group setting, gradual introduction and increase in structured and unstructured
activities, very frequent interactions regarding a prisoner’s feelings on progress, and the
ability to go back to their cell when they feel overwhelmed. (Id., pp. 62-63).
When asked about the Transition Plan, Dr. Grassian characterized it as “too
basic[.]” (Doc. 207, p. 63). He took specific issue with the 90% program attendance
requirement could be counterproductive, as it would effectively penalize Plaintiff for
engaging in a necessary behavior (exiting or avoiding public situations when feeling
overwhelmed). (Id., pp. 63-65). Dr. Grassian also suggested that the types of therapy
mandated for Plaintiff (Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (“REBT”) and CognitiveBehavioral Therapy (“CBT”)) are “not terribly appropriate” for Plaintiff’s issues, though
he indicated that he was “not saying they’re 100 percent inappropriate[.]” (Id., p. 65). Dr.
Grassian opined that if Plaintiff is put in a situation where he is overwhelmed and cannot
get away from it, his mental condition could be substantially harmed. (Id., p. 68). He
acknowledged that there are different ways to successfully implement a step-down
process, and that he does not have the expertise to design one. (Id., pp. 68-69).
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In post-hearing briefing, Plaintiff submitted two scholarly articles and a press
release. (Doc. 209-1, pp. 16-51). The first, entitled “Step-Down Programs and Transitional
Units: A Strategy to End Long-Term Restrictive Housing” was issued by the Vera
Institute of Justice, a private non-profit group. The article focuses primarily on bestpractices, identifying five “key aspects” to an effective transition program:
1. Individualized decisions about who is placed in the program;
2. Conditions that differ significantly from restrictive housing;
3. Meaningful out-of-cell group programming and activities;
4. A clear process for progressing through the program, including frequent
reviews by a multidisciplinary team, individual behavior plans, and
transparency and tangibility in the review criteria; and
5. Carefully planned transitions to general population.
(Doc. 209-1, pp. 19-20). It also cautions against “loops,” where a violation of rules
automatically places the prisoner back at the beginning of the process. (Id., p. 21). The
second article, “Working to Limit Restrictive Housing: Efforts in Four Jurisdictions to
Make Changes” was put forth by the Association of State Correctional Administrators
and Liman Center for Public Interest Law. (Id., pp. 29-49). Finally, Plaintiff included a
press release from the State of Tennessee, which contains a broad description of their 160hour Restrictive Housing Step-Down Program. (Id., p. 51).
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Plaintiff’s specific requests for an injunction appear to have changed over time. In
his Motion, Plaintiff requested an Order requiring IDOC to implement a transitional plan
in accordance with four requirements:
1. It should be tailored to Plaintiff and his specific psychological
profile and needs, and should be monitored and potentially
adapted over time.
2. It should involve a gradual introduction to structured activity
outside his cell over the course of months, not weeks.
3. Plaintiff should have a counselor that speaks with him in person
regularly to cope with the feelings of fear and being
overwhelmed that inevitably accompany the transition process.
4. Plaintiff should have a single-occupancy cell during the
transition that he can retreat to for alone time.
(Doc. 170). At the hearing, Plaintiff’s counsel proposed a somewhat different set of relief.
First, he suggested that the Court order the parties to meet and confer within a given time
to try and come up with an agreed scheme. (Doc. 207, p. 82). In the alternative or if that
failed, Plaintiff proposes that the Court order each side to submit proposed transition
plans for the Court’s adoption or appoint a special master. (Id., pp. 82-83). In his PostHearing Brief (Doc. 209), Plaintiff retreats somewhat to his original position on requested
relief. He appears to concede that IDOC’s current plans meet Points 1 (an individualized
and adaptive plan) and 4 (maintain Plaintiff in a single-occupancy cell during the
transition period). (Doc. 209, p. 6). He now asks that the Court order for “an appropriate
and gradual ‘step down’ program” and that a counselor be available on a “regular” basis
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instead of the current twice-per-month basis. (Id., pp. 6-7). He goes on to suggest a
transfer to the Joliet Treatment Center, or “if Joliet is unsuitable, or if Mr. Wallace is
somehow ineligible for such a transfer” require Menard to “construct a program that
incorporates the testimony of Dr. Grassian and the experience of states that have
reformed their systems.” (Doc. 209, pp. 8-9).
Preliminary injunctions are extraordinary and drastic remedies that should not be
granted unless the movant makes a clear showing that it has carried its burden of
persuasion. Mazurek v. Armstrong, 520 U.S. 968, 972 (1997). Mandatory preliminary
injunctions, like the one requested here are “ordinarily cautiously viewed and sparingly
issued.” Graham v. Medical Mut. of Ohio, 130 F.3d 293, 295 (7th Cir. 1997).
Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 65, the party moving for an injunction has
the burden of showing that 1. it has some likelihood of succeeding on the merits, 2. that
no adequate remedy at law exists, and 3. that it will suffer irreparable harm in the interim
period prior to final resolution of its claims. Girl Scouts of Manitou Council, Inc. v. Girl
Scouts of U.S. of America, Inc., 549 F.3d 1079, 1086 (7th Cir. 2008). If the movant establishes
these elements, the Court must then balance the potential harm to the movant if the
preliminary injunction were wrongfully denied, against the potential harm to the nonmovant if the injunction were wrongfully granted. Cooper v. Salazar, 196 F.3d 809, 813
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(7th Cir. 1999). The Court should also take into consideration the effect that granting or
denying the injunction will have on the public. Girl Scouts, 549 F.3d at 1086.
The Prison Litigation Reform Act (“PLRA”) adds an additional layer of restrictions
to injunctive requests by prisoners. 42 U.S.C. § 1997e & 18 U.S.C. § 3626. “The PLRA
states that no prospective relief shall issue with respect to prison conditions unless it is
narrowly drawn, extends no further than necessary to correct the violation of a federal
right, and is the least intrusive means necessary to correct the violation.” Brown v. Plata,
563 U.S. 493, 530 (2011) (citing 18 U.S.C. § 3626(a)). “When determining whether these
requirements are met, courts must give substantial weight to any adverse impact on
public safety or the operation of a criminal justice system.” Id. (internal quotations
Plaintiff’s claim relating to his transition to general population is twofold. First,
he argues that releasing him into the general population without an adequate plan would
be deliberate indifference to Plaintiff’s serious medical needs—specifically, his
psychological needs. Deliberate indifference requires that “the official must both be
aware of facts from which the inference could be drawn that a substantial risk of serious
harm exists, and he must also draw the inference.” Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S. 825, 837
(1994). “Prison officials violate the Eighth Amendment's proscription against cruel and
unusual punishment when they display deliberate indifference to serious medical needs
of prisoners.” Fields v. Smith, 653 F.3d 550, 554 (7th Cir. 2011). The deliberate indifference
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inquiry has two parts: (1) whether a plaintiff suffered from an objectively serious medical
condition and (2) whether the defendants were deliberately indifferent to that condition.
Campbell v. Kallas, 936 F.3d 536, 545 (7th Cir. 2019). Under the Eighth Amendment, a
prisoner is not entitled to demand specific care or best care possible, but only to
“reasonable measures to meet a substantial risk of serious harm to her.” Forbes v. Edgar,
112 F.3d 262, 267 (7th Cir. 1997).
Second, Plaintiff argues that the transition plan violates the Americans with
Disabilities Act (“ADA”), 42 U.S.C. §§ 12101 et seq., and the Rehabilitation Act (“RA”), 29
U.S.C. §§ 794-794e. The analysis governing the ADA and the RA is the same, “except that
the Rehabilitation Act includes as an additional element the receipt of federal funds,
which all states accept for their prisons.” Jaros v. Ill. Dep't of Corrs., 684 F.3d 667, 671 (7th
Cir. 2012). ADA and RA claims require that a claimant show (1) he is a qualified person
(2) with a disability and (3) the Department of Corrections denied him access to a
program or activity because of his disability. See 29 U.S.C. § 705(2)(B); Wis. Cmty. Serv.
v. City of Milwaukee, 465 F.3d 737, 746 (7th Cir. 2006); Grzan v. Charter Hosp. of Nw. Ind.,
104 F.3d 116, 119 (7th Cir. 1997). Refusing to make reasonable accommodations is
tantamount to denying access; although the RA does not expressly require
accommodation, “the Supreme Court has located a duty to accommodate in the statute
generally.” Wis. Cmty. Serv., 465 F.3d at 747; see also Alexander v. Choate, 469 U.S. 287, 300-
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01 (1985). Defendants concede for purposes of the Motion that Plaintiff is a qualified
person with a disability. (Doc. 215, p. 13).
Likelihood of Success on the Merits
As noted, to obtain a preliminary injunction, Plaintiff must demonstrate a
likelihood of success on the merits. A movant's showing of likelihood of success on the
merits must be “strong.” Tully v. Okeson, 977 F.3d 608, 613 (7th Cir. 2020) (citing Ill.
Republican Party v. Pritzker, 973 F.3d 760, 762–63 (7th Cir. 2020)). This “does not mean
proof by a preponderance .... [b]ut it normally includes a demonstration of how the
applicant proposes to prove the key elements of its case.” Id. 2
In this, Plaintiff has not shown a sufficient likelihood of success to clear this hurdle
as to the Transition Plan and related Treatment Plan on either deliberate indifference or
ADA/RA grounds. 3
The plans at issue straddle the line between medical treatment and prison
operations. The Transition Plan was formulated by a mixture of prison staff (Major
How strong this likelihood must be is the subject of some uncertainty. The holding in Illinois Republican Party
specifically condemns the previously-applied standard of “better than negligible chance of success” but offers little in
the way of guidance other than “less than a preponderance of evidence.” Further, the Seventh Circuit has said that the
“sliding scale” approach still applies, despite the recalibration of the standard. Mays v. Dart, 974 F.3d 810, 822 (7th
Cir. 2020). The Court assumes that the low end of the sliding scale now starts at “strong” and becomes more
demanding from there.
The Court makes no indication regarding Plaintiff’s likelihood of success at trial on his deliberate indifference claims
regarding past deliberate indifference.
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Rowland) and mental health staff (Morris), while the Treatment Plan appears to have
been the work primarily of Morris. On a deliberate indifference claim with regard to the
medical and mental health aspects, prison officials are generally entitled to rely on the
professional judgment of medical staff, unless they have a reason to believe (or actual
knowledge) that such staff “are mistreating (or not treating) a prisoner.” Hayes v. Snyder,
546 F.3d 516, 527 (7th Cir. 2008). Medical professionals, in turn, may be found to be
deliberately indifferent if they make a decision that represents “such a substantial
departure from accepted professional judgment, practice, or standards, as to demonstrate
that the person responsible actually did not base the decision on such a judgment.”
Donald v. Wexford Health Sources, Inc., 982 F.3d 451, 458 (7th Cir. 2020).
Here, the evidence is that Rowland relied on his professional judgment in
formulating the overall Transition Plan in consultation with Morris, and that Morris in
turn relied on her professional judgment in determining that the Transition Plan and
Treatment Plan were adequate to address Plaintiff’s mental health needs during the
transition. At the hearing Plaintiff’s counsel voiced his own belief that Morris’s efforts
were undertaken in good faith. (Doc. 207, pp. 77-78). The standard is not whether a
professional’s judgment is correct, just that they used their judgment in deciding on the
course of action. The evidence adduced shows that professional judgment was utilized,
Plaintiff’s line of attack has been that Morris and the other prison officials involved
lack the training and expertise to put together an effective plan. In his reply brief, Plaintiff
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argues that the “professional judgment” standard (and its inherent deference to that
judgment) should not apply to Rowland and Morris. In Youngberg v. Romeo, 457 U.S. 307,
323 (1982), the Court articulated the “substantial departure from accepted professional
judgment, practice, or standards” in the context of restraint of involuntarily committed
individuals. In a footnote, the Court defined a “professional decisionmaker” as a person
“competent, whether by education, training or experience, to make the particular
decision at issue.” Id., n. 30. Plaintiff argues that IDOC cannot establish Morris (and
Rowland) is entitled to deference to professional judgment because of their “total
unawareness of the harms inflicted by long-term solitary confinement.” (Doc. 219, p. 5).
Morris is a licensed clinical social worker with both a bachelor’s and master’s degree in
social work. (Doc. 188-1). Rowland has an associate’s degree in criminal justice and more
than 20 years as a corrections officer at Menard. (Doc. 207, pp. 16, 25). There is nothing
in the record that suggests that Morris and Rowland are without the necessary
professional qualifications and experience levels to make competent decisions regarding
a Plaintiff’s transition from segregation to general population.
Dr. Grassian did illuminate for the Court the unique and difficult challenges faced
by a person who has been confined alone for long periods of time. He also provided
opinion evidence that the Transition Plan is not adequate. However, Dr. Grassian did not
offer his opinion as to the accepted professional judgment, practice, or standards for such
step-down programs; he himself stated he does not have the expertise to create such a
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plan. (Doc. 207, p. 69). Further, the scholarly articles presented by Plaintiff tend to
reinforce the impression that the Transition Plan is at least within the realm of accepted
professional judgment, practice, or standards. The Transition Plan appears to largely
meet the recommendations of the Vera Institute of Justice paper, which does not address
the primary shortcoming alleged by Plaintiff—the ability for Plaintiff to disengage and
retreat to his cell when the stress of interaction becomes overwhelming. The ASCALiman Center article describes Colorado as giving transitioning prisoners programming
“regardless of whether they want it or not.” (Doc. 209-1, p. 32). That would appear to be
the exact opposite of the ability to disengage and retreat.
Plaintiff has not made a strong showing of likely success on the merits as to the
adequacy of his Transition Plan and Treatment Plan.
It may be that a group of top
penologists and psychological experts could craft a scheme that would give Plaintiff the
best or least a better chance of successfully completing the transition to general
population than the one IDOC and Menard staff have devised, but that is not the
standard. The evidence suggests that although they may not be the best options to ensure
an optimal outcome for Plaintiff, these plans do represent “reasonable measures to meet
a substantial risk of serious harm” and so pass the bar of constitutional muster.
Similarly, Plaintiff’s ADA/RA claim does not show a strong likelihood of success.
Plaintiff’s argument is that he “is being denied access to a meaningful transition plan,
because the plan proposed by the Defendants will exacerbate rather than accommodate
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his serious mental illness.” (Doc. 171, p. 9). First, there is no evidence that Plaintiff is
being denied access to a program that other non-disabled prisoners have—quite the
opposite, as Plaintiff’s argument is that the transition scheme applied to other prisoners
is too one-size-fits-all for him. What Plaintiff is really arguing is that the Transition Plan
and Treatment Plan do not constitute a reasonable accommodation for his mental illness
within the overall scheme. However, a reasonable accommodation does not require a
perfect cure for the problem. See Stewart v. County of Brown, 86 F.3d 107, 112 (7th Cir.
1996). In defining a reasonable accommodation in correctional facilities, courts consider
the accommodation “in light of the overall institutional requirements,” including security
and safety concerns and “administrative exigencies.” Love v. Westville Corr. Ctr., 103 F.3d
558, 561 (7th Cir. 1996). Such a determination is “highly fact-specific” and requires a caseby-case analysis. Dadian v. Village of Wilmette, 269 F.3d 831, 838 (7th Cir. 2001). There is
no question that prison staff has made accommodations for Plaintiff’s mental condition
in the Transition Plan and Treatment Plan; Plaintiff only contests the adequacy of those
accommodations. Plaintiff has not presented any evidence regarding the other factors
the Court would have to consider in a finding on the merits, including how the requested
accommodations would (or wouldn’t) affect institutional security or safety concerns.
Simply asserting that the present accommodations are not sufficient does not constitute
a strong showing of likelihood of success.
Irreparable Harm and Inadequate Remedy at Law
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The party moving for a preliminary injunction must demonstrate he or she will
likely suffer irreparable harm absent the injunctive relief. Whitaker By Whitaker v. Kenosha
Unified School District No. 1 Board of Education, 858 F.3d 1034, 1044 (7th Cir. 2017). “This
requires more than a mere possibility of harm” but “does not, however, require that the
harm actually occur before injunctive relief is warranted.” Id. Also, the moving party
must demonstrate there is no adequate remedy at law because “any award would be
seriously deficient as compared to the harm suffered.” Id. at 1046 (internal quotations
omitted). Inadequate remedy at law may be established by showing “preventable lifelong diminished well-being and life-functioning.” Id.
Plaintiff identifies two irreparable harms at issue. The first is the inherent harm of
a continuing violation of Plaintiff’s constitutional rights. See Preston v. Thompson, 589 F.2d
300, 303 n.3 (7th Cir. 1978) (“The existence of a continuing constitutional violation
constitutes proof of an irreparable harm, and its remedy certainly would serve the public
interest.”). As discussed above, however, Plaintiff has not made a clear showing of
likelihood of success on his claim of a constitutional violation. He has therefore not
shown that the harm from such a violation is likely to occur.
The second identified irreparable harm is the psychological consequences. Here,
the sole evidence presented regarding the potential harm was Dr. Grassian’s testimony
at the hearing:
In the absence of that element of a program, that element
of a step-down program in a transition program, is it possible
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that Mr. Wallace's mental condition and physical condition
could be substantially harmed?
Certainly his mental condition could be substantially
harmed. You put him in a situation which he's overwhelmed,
how is he going to manage it? If he can't get away from it,
it's very likely he'll get sicker or he won't be able to
tolerate it and will act out in some fashion, like becoming
self-destructive, becoming irritable, having fights with -you know, arguments with the corrections officers.
(Doc. 207, p. 67:24-68:9). In describing more generally the effects of placing prisoners
leaving solitary confinement into general population without retreat to their cells, Dr.
Grassian stated that they “become paranoid. They become fearful. They feel
overwhelmed, irritable.” (Id., p. 62:21-63:1)
While psychological conditions do not lend themselves to easy or definite
predictions of future course, this is too broad a range of possible outcomes to support the
extraordinary step of a mandatory preliminary injunction. The Court assumes that
“sicker” means a significant exacerbation of his existing severe mental health issues,
which (along with becoming self-destructive) would qualify as irreparable harm with no
adequate remedy at law.
Plaintiff becoming irritable and having arguments with
corrections officers is not irreparable harm. Without some indication of the likelihood of
each of these consequences occurring, the Court cannot justify the imposition of a
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Further discussion is appropriate on the requested relief and its compliance with
the PLRA. The purpose of a preliminary injunction is to preserve the status quo until the
merits of a case can be resolved. Indiana Civ. Liberties Union v. O'Bannon, 259 F.3d 766,
770 (7th Cir. 2001). The PLRA’s limitation of prospective relief to that which is “narrowly
drawn, extends no further than necessary to correct the violation of a federal right, and
is the least intrusive means necessary to correct the violation” further constrains the relief
the Court could afford Plaintiff even if it found he were entitled to a preliminary
injunction on this issue. Plaintiff argues that transitioning out of long-term segregation
without a plan meeting his criteria he “will endure even greater mental suffering and
possibly physical harm” and that the current plan “will cause him irreparable harm
should it be allowed to continue in its current form. (Doc. 171, p. 2 and Doc. 209, p. 8).
The implication of this argument is that the least intrusive and most narrowly-drawn
solution to a potentially harmful transition is to stop the transition, preserve the status
quo and keep him in segregation—an outcome that neither the parties nor the Court view
Moreover, the caution with which courts approach injunctions involving prison
operations—especially mandatory injunctions—reinforces the conclusion that Plaintiff’s
desired remedy goes too far. It is axiomatic that correctional officials “must have
substantial discretion to devise reasonable solutions to the problems they face[,]”
especially when they involve matters of safety and security. Florence v. Bd. of Chosen
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Freeholders of Cty. of Burlington, 566 U.S. 318, 326 (2012). Here, Plaintiff is asking for a
program that allows him to move from group settings to his cell as he may deem
necessary, which clearly implicates security and staffing matters.
It follows that
Plaintiff’s transition from long-term segregation to general population necessarily
involves matters of safety and security as well as mental health services.
Picking apart the Transition Plan and Treatment Plan element by element and
imposing a framework with requirements of this specificity is precisely what the PLRA
and precedent cautions against. While the individual facts of some cases merit that level
of intervention, the circumstances here do not suggest it would be warranted even if
injunctive relief were appropriate.
For the reasons stated above, Plaintiff’s Motion for Preliminary Injunction (Doc.
170) is DENIED.
IT IS SO ORDERED.
DATED: February 18, 2021
DAVID W. DUGAN
U.S. District Judge
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