Wilder v. Rain et al
OPINION AND ORDER: The federal claims contained in the amended complaint are DISMISSED WITH PREJUDICE pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A and the state law claims are DISMISSED WITHOUT PREJUDICE. ***Civil Case Terminated. Signed by Chief Judge Philip P Simon on 8/4/2015. (cc: Wilder) (jld)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
NORTHERN DISTRICT OF INDIANA
SOUTH BEND DIVISION
JESSICA RAIN, et al.,
CAUSE NO. 3:15-CV-243 PS
OPINION AND ORDER
Gary Wilder, a pro se prisoner, has filed an amended complaint under 42 U.S.C. §
1983, again complaining about the termination of the PLUS1 program at the Westville
Correctional Facility. (DE 7.) Wilder alleges that terminating the PLUS program was
unconstitutional, and also complains that the program was terminated without due
“The Purposeful Living Units Serve (PLUS) program is a faith- and character-based
community that encourages offenders to choose alternatives to criminal thinking and
behavior by providing a focus on spiritual and character development, life-skills
training community service, and intentional preparation for living as law-abiding
citizens. Key components of the program include a strong positive peer culture a
curriculum that addresses risk factors and establishing a mentoring relationship with a
positive role model volunteer from the community. Now in its fourth year, the PLUS
program is offered at 16 different facilities with a current enrollment of approximately
1,200 participants. Since its inception, over 1,000 PLUS participants have completed the
12-16 month program. Of these, around 200 have been released back into the
community. The current return rate of PLUS graduates is less than 5%, compared with
the overall recidivism rate of 37%. In 2009, PLUS was nationally recognized by the
American Correctional Chaplains Association by receiving their Offender Program of
the Year award.” (http://www.in.gov/idoc/2799.htm (last visited 06/09, 2015)).
Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A, I must review a prisoner complaint and dismiss it
if the action is frivolous or malicious, fails to state a claim upon which relief may be
granted, or seeks monetary relief against a defendant who is immune from such relief.
Courts apply the same standard under Section 1915A as when deciding a motion under
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). Lagerstrom v. Kingston, 463 F.3d 621, 624 (7th
Cir. 2006). To survive a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6), a complaint must state a
claim for relief that is plausible on its face. Bissessur v. Indiana Univ. Bd. of Trs., 581 F.3d
599, 602-03 (7th Cir. 2009). “A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads
factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant
is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Id. at 603. Furthermore, “[a] document filed pro se
is to be liberally construed, and a pro se complaint, however inartfully pleaded, must be
held to less stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers.” Erickson v.
Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007). To state claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, a plaintiff must
allege: “(1) that defendants deprived him of a federal constitutional right; and (2) that
the defendants acted under color of state law.” Savory v. Lyons, 469 F.3d 667, 670 (7th
Wilder’s original complaint made a number of various allegations surrounding
the termination of the PLUS program. However, because it was not entirely clear what
Wilder was trying to accomplish, he was granted leave to file an amended complaint in
the spirit of Luevano v. Wal-Mart, 722 F.3d 1014 (7th Cir. 2013). (DE 3.) He has now filed
an amended complaint, alleging that his Eighth Amendment right to be free from cruel
and unusual punishment was violated when the PLUS program was terminated. And,
further, his due process rights under the Fourteenth Amendment were violated when
the PLUS program was terminated without a hearing. Neither of these allegations
plausibly states a claim for relief.
As I previously noted, “[t]here is no constitutional mandate to provide
educational, rehabilitative, or vocational programs, in the absence of conditions that
give rise to a violation of the Eighth Amendment.” (DE 4 at 3) (citing Zimmerman v.
Tribble, 226 F.3d 568, 571 (7th Cir.2000) (internal quotation omitted)). Consequently, “the
denial of access to educational programs does not infringe on a protected liberty
interest.” Id. Moreover, because the successful completion of an educational program is
not inevitable, the denial of the opportunity to earn good time credits through
educational programs “does not inevitably affect the duration of the sentence and does
not deprive him of constitutional guarantees.” Id. (internal quotation omitted); see also
Sandin, 515 U.S. at 487 (due process is required only when state action “will inevitably
affect the duration of [a prisoner's] sentence”). Consequently, not only does Wilder have
no constitutional right to participate in the PLUS program, but he can not challenge the
process he was given with respect to having the PLUS Program delayed or terminated
either. See Zimmerman, 226 F.3d at 571. Therefore, Wilder’s Eighth Amendment claim
and Fourteenth Amendment claim must be dismissed.
It appears that Wilder is also raising a host of other claims based on Indiana state
law. (DE 7 at 3, 4.) Because the federal claims must be dismissed, the court declines to
exercise supplemental jurisdiction over Wilder’s remaining state law claims. 28 U.S.C. §
1367(c)(3); Capeheart v. Terrell, 695 F.3d 681, 686 (7th Cir. 2012). Accordingly, his state
law claims are dismissed without prejudice and he is free to pursue those in state court.
For the reasons set forth above, the federal claims contained in the amended
complaint (DE 7) are DISMISSED WITH PREJUDICE pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A,
and the state law claims are DISMISSED WITHOUT PREJUDICE.
ENTERED: August 4, 2015.
s/ Philip P. Simon
Philip P. Simon, Chief Judge
United States District Court
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