Rankins v. Ms. Dept. of Corrections et al
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER DISMISSING PLAINTIFF'S COMPLAINT. Signed by Chief District Judge Louis Guirola, Jr on 4/6/17. (JCH)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF MISSISSIPPI
COREY LEON RANKINS, #141674
CAUSE NO. 1:16-cv-419-LG-RHW
MISSISSIPPI DEPARTMENT OF
CORRECTIONS and ALICIA BOX
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
DISMISSING PLAINTIFF’S COMPLAINT
This matter is before the Court, sua sponte, for consideration of dismissal.
Plaintiff Corey Leon Rankins, an inmate of the Mississippi Department of Corrections,
brings this pro se Complaint seeking injunctive relief. Rankins is proceeding in forma
pauperis. See Order . The named Defendants are the Mississippi Department of
Corrections (“MDOC”) and Alicia Box, Chief Records Officer at the South Mississippi
Correctional Institution. The Court, having liberally construed Rankins’s Complaint
in consideration with the applicable law, finds that this case should be dismissed.
Facts and Procedural History
In 2008, Rankins was convicted of kidnapping in the Circuit Court of Pearl
River County, Mississippi. Rankins is currently serving a term of imprisonment based
on the 2011 revocation of his post-release supervision. Rankins complains that MDOC
is improperly calculating his term of imprisonment. Specifically, Rankins claims that
he should only serve 85% of his sentence, that he should be placed in “trusty status”
and MDOC should award him specific sentence credits. Rankins brings this
Complaint under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, seeking an order directing MDOC to calculate his
term of imprisonment to include the sentence reductions he believes apply and to
place him in trusty status. (Compl. 4, ECF No. 1).
After initial review of Complaint, an Order  was entered advising Rankins
that release from incarceration is not available in a suit filed pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §
1983. The Order also advised Rankins that habeas corpus provides the exclusive
federal remedy available to a state prisoner seeking a speedier or immediate release
from incarceration. Additionally, the Order provided Rankins with an opportunity to
file a notice of voluntary dismissal or file a written response stating that he wishes to
proceed with this § 1983 Complaint. The Order also directed the Clerk of Court to
send Rankins a packet of habeas corpus forms for state inmates seeking release from
Rankins filed a Response  to the Court’s Order  stating that he wishes to
continue with this case under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. (Resp. 1, ECF No. 10). Rankins also
filed a habeas corpus petition, challenging MDOC’s calculation of his term of
imprisonment based on the claims he asserts in this § 1983 case. See Rankins v.
MDOC, no. 1:17-cv-74-HSO-LRA (S.D. Miss. filed Mar. 15, 2017).
The Prison Litigation Reform Act, 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2) (as amended), applies
to prisoners proceeding in forma pauperis, and provides that “the court shall dismiss
the case at any time if the court determines that . . . (B) the action or appeal – (i) is
frivolous or malicious; (ii) fails to state a claim on which relief may be granted; or (iii)
seeks monetary relief against a defendant who is immune from such relief.” Since
Rankins is proceeding in forma pauperis, his Complaint is subject to the casescreening procedures set forth in 28 U.S.C. § 1915 (e)(2).
Rankins’s request for MDOC to calculate his sentence to include certain
sentence credits would result in Rankins receiving an earlier release from
incarceration. This request must be pursued through a petition for writ of habeas
corpus. See Preiser v. Rodriguez, 411 U.S. 475, 500 (1973). As stated above, Rankins
is currently litigating a habeas corpus case in this Court. Therefore, Rankins’s claims
for a specific sentence calculation will be dismissed without prejudice to Rankins’s
pursuit of these claims in his pending habeas corpus case.
Rankins is also asking this Court to direct MDOC to place him in trusty status.
Trusty status is defined by the classification board of MDOC. Golden v. Epps, 958
So.2d 271, 273 n.2 (Miss. 2007) (citing Miss. Code Ann. § 47-5-138.1 (Rev. 2004)). The
state statute governing trusty status provides that an inmate may receive a reduction
in his sentence for participation in approved programs while in trusty status. Id.
(emphasis added). However, the statute also provides that an inmate in trusty status
will not be allowed a reduction in his sentence if he is convicted as a habitual offender.
Id. Therefore, placement in trusty status would not automatically result in an inmate
receiving a reduction in his term of imprisonment. Since Rankins placement in trusty
status would not necessarily result in an earlier release from custody, he is not
required to pursue this request through habeas corpus.
However, trusty status is defined by the classification board of MDOC and the
classification of prisoners is well within the broad discretion of prison officials and
should be “free from judicial intervention.” McCord v. Maggio, 910 F.2d 1248, 1250-51
(5th Cir. 1990) (citations omitted). An inmate simply does not have a “constitutionally
protected interest in either a custodial classification or the possibility of earning good-
time credits.” Thomas v. Jordan, No. 07-60071, 2008 WL 4649095, *1 (5th Cir. Oct.
21, 2008) (citing Neals v. Norwood, 59 F. 3d 520, 533 (5th Cir. 1995)). MDOC’s failure
to assign Rankins to trusty status does not violate his constitutional rights.
Therefore, Rankins has failed to state a claim for § 1983 relief.
The Court has considered the pleadings and applicable law. For the reasons
stated, this civil action will be dismissed for Plaintiff’s failure to state a claim upon
which relief may be granted. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii).
IT IS, THEREFORE, ORDERED AND ADJUDGED that Rankins’s habeas
corpus claims are DISMISSED WITHOUT PREJUDICE to Rankins’s pursuit of
these claims in his pending habeas corpus case, Rankins v. MDOC, 1:17-cv-74-HSOLRA (S.D. Miss.).
IT IS, FURTHER, ORDERED AND ADJUDGED that Rankins’s § 1983
claims are DISMISSED WITH PREJUDICE for failure to state a claim pursuant to
28 U.S.C. § 1915 (e)(2)(B)(ii)
IT IS, FURTHER, ORDERED AND ADJUDGED that this dismissal will
count as a “strike” in accordance with the Prison Litigation Reform Act. See 28 U.S.C.
§ 1915 (g).
SO ORDERED AND ADJUDGED this the 6th day of April, 2017.
Louis Guirola, Jr.
LOUIS GUIROLA, JR.
CHIEF U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE
Disclaimer: Justia Dockets & Filings provides public litigation records from the federal appellate and district courts. These filings and docket sheets should not be considered findings of fact or liability, nor do they necessarily reflect the view of Justia.
Why Is My Information Online?