Staples v. NH State Prison, Warden et al
/// ORDER accepting and approving the 86 Report and Recommendation dated May 11, 2015, and modifying the proposed injunction as set forth in this order. Plaintiff's 1 motion for a preliminary injunction is granted in part, and the court specifically declines to order plaintiff's release from the NHSP at this time. So Ordered by Judge Landya B. McCafferty.(jbw) Modified on 7/2/2015 to add link to document no. 1: (jbw).
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE DISTRICT OF NEW HAMPSHIRE
Civil No. 14-cv-473-LM
Opinion No. 2015 DNH 132
N.H. State Prison, Warden, et al.
O R D E R
Pending before me are the parties’ objections to the May
11, 2015 Report and Recommendation of Magistrate Judge Andrea K.
Johnstone (“R&R”) (doc. no. 86) granting, in large part,
plaintiff Frank Staples’s motion for a preliminary injunction
(doc. no. 1).
The defendants are the New Hampshire Parole Board
and three named officials at the New Hampshire State Prison
(“NHSP”): Warden Richard M. Gerry; Commissioner William Wrenn;
and Chaplain James Daly.1
Pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 72(b)(3),
I review the R&R de novo.
See also 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1).
free to “accept, reject, or modify the recommended
disposition[,] to receive further evidence[,] or return the
matter to the magistrate judge with instructions.”
Fed. R. Civ.
This case involves an inmate at the NHSP who wants, for
religious reasons, to maintain a full-length beard while
refer to the defendants collectively as “defendants” or
as the “the prison.”
The prison allows inmates to grow a beard no
longer than 1/4 inch.
The prison takes the position that an
inmate, like Staples, with a beard longer than 1/4 inch, poses
security risks and must therefore be housed in the maximum
security unit of the prison known as the Special Housing Unit
(“SHU”) with a heightened security classification.
permitting a transfer to a housing unit with a lower security
classification, the prison requires a bearded inmate to shave
his beard to the required 1/4-inch length.
shave his beard for religious reasons.
Staples refuses to
As a result, he alleges
that he has suffered punitive consequences including a
heightened security classification, discipline, and denial of
Staples seeks a preliminary injunction to vindicate his
religious right to grow a full-length beard without suffering
any punitive consequences at the prison.
Following a two-day evidentiary hearing, the Magistrate
Judge recommended that this court issue the following
Defendants, for the duration of this lawsuit, are
subject to the following prohibitions:
Defendants must not preclude Staples from
obtaining a C-4 or C-3 security classification, based
solely or in part, on his present or past refusal to
trim his full length beard;
background facts are set forth in great detail in the
B. Defendants must not preclude Staples from being
transferred to a C-3 or C-4 housing unit, based solely
or in part, on his present or past refusal to trim his
C. Defendants must not initiate new disciplinary
proceedings against Staples, based solely or in part,
on his present or past refusal to trim his beard; and
D. Defendants must not preclude Staples from being
scheduled for a parole hearing, or from being paroled,
based solely or in part on Staples’s C-4 or C-5
security classification, unless the NHSP certifies
that Staples’s classification remains elevated for
reasons other than his present or past refusal to trim
his full length beard.
R&R (doc. no. 86) 44.
The Magistrate Judge further recommended that the court
deny the motion for a preliminary injunction to the extent it
asserts an equal protection claim, and to defer ruling on
Staples’s First Amendment claims because his claims under the
Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA),
42 U.S.C. § 2000cc et seq., provide him with greater religious
Both plaintiff and defendants have filed objections to the
See doc. nos. 90, 94, 98 and 104.
Staples seeks a broader
injunction; specifically, he seeks an immediate reduction in his
security classification and immediate release from prison.
After carefully considering Staples’s objections (doc. nos. 94,
98 and 104), for the reasons stated in the R&R, I adopt the R&R
with respect to its denial of Staples’s request for both an
immediate reduction in his security classification and immediate
The defendants object to only one portion of the R&R and
otherwise agree to comply with the injunction during the
pendency of this lawsuit.
Specifically, the defendants object
to part B, the portion of the proposed injunction ordering them
to transfer Staples out of SHU and into a lower security unit
while he maintains a full-length beard.
The defendants’ central
contention is that the R&R is not sufficiently deferential to
the prison’s security-based justification for requiring an
inmate with a full-length beard to remain in SHU.
Having carefully reviewed the record and considered the
defendants’ objection (doc. no. 90), I agree with the Magistrate
Judge’s decision to issue part B of the injunction, although I
modify it to clarify that the prison may place Staples in a
housing unit known as a “Closed Custody Unit” (“CCU”) while he
maintains his full-length beard.
I also modify the proposed
injunction to make clear that the prison has the right to house
Staples in SHU in the event that he uses his beard to conceal
contraband or becomes a target for abuse on the basis of his
With those modifications, I find that the
injunction accords proper deference to the defendants’ expertise
in running the prison while this lawsuit is pending.
v. Hobbs, 135 S. Ct. 853, 864 (2015) (“Prison officials are
experts in running prisons and evaluating the likely effects of
altering prison rules, and courts should respect that
expertise.”); Cutter v. Wilkinson, 544 U.S. 709, 723 (2005)
(upholding RLUIPA and noting that Congress anticipated that
courts would apply it with “due deference to the experience and
expertise of prison and jail administrators in establishing
necessary regulations and procedures to maintain good order,
security and discipline”) (citation omitted).
In Holt, a decision issued shortly before the evidentiary
hearing in this case, the Supreme Court struck down a prison’s
grooming regulation under RLUIPA.
135 S. Ct. at 867.
regulation at issue in Holt required an inmate to be cleanshaven unless the inmate had a skin condition, under which
circumstances the regulation permitted a 1/4-inch beard.
Although the inmate in Holt wanted a full-length beard for
religious reasons, he proposed as a compromise that the prison
allow him a 1/2-inch beard.
The prison refused to accept the
proposed compromise and defended its refusal on grounds of
prison security, including a concern that an inmate with a 1/2inch beard presented greater risks of concealing contraband in
his beard than did an inmate with a 1/4-inch beard.
Id. at 861.
Because the prison in Holt “failed to establish . . . that a
1/4-inch difference in beard length pose[d] a meaningful
increase in security risk,” id. at 866, the prison’s securitybased justification for refusing to permit a 1/2-inch beard
received no deference.
See id. at 863 (“We readily agree that
[the prison] has a compelling interest in staunching the flow of
contraband into and within its facilities, but the argument that
this interest would be seriously compromised by allowing an
inmate to grow a 1/2-inch beard is hard to take seriously.”).
RLUIPA provides, in relevant part, that the government
shall not “impose a substantial burden on the religious exercise
of a person residing in or confined to an institution . . .
unless the government demonstrates that imposition of the burden
on that person — (1) is in furtherance of a compelling
governmental interest; and (2) is the least restrictive means of
furthering that compelling governmental interest.”
42 U.S.C. §
Holt makes clear that, in assessing whether a
prison’s security-based regulation is the “least restrictive”
means of addressing a security interest,3 courts must take care
The R&R correctly states the two-pronged test under
RLUIPA. Because the dispute between the parties concerns only
RLUIPA’s second prong, my discussion is limited to an analysis
of the “least restrictive” test.
to scrutinize the prison’s stated security interest in the
context of the individual inmate’s specific circumstances and
must not defer blindly to the prison’s stated security
justification for the particular regulation in dispute.
Ct. at 864.
Holt reiterates that, under the second prong of the
RLUIPA test, the “least-restrictive-means standard is
exceptionally demanding, and it requires the government to show
that it lacks other means of achieving its desired goal without
imposing a substantial burden on the exercise of religion by the
135 S. Ct. at 864 (internal quotation marks
and brackets omitted).
Holt cautions, however, that where a prison provides
security-based justifications for its regulation, courts should
afford a measure of deference and should not substitute their
own judgment for that of the prison.
Indeed, Justice Sotomayor
wrote a concurrence to make precisely this point:
Nothing in the Court’s opinion calls into
question our prior holding in Cutter v. Wilkerson that
“context matters” in the application of [RLUIPA]
. . . . In the dangerous prison environment,
“regulations and procedures” are needed to “maintain
good order, security and discipline. . . .
I do not understand the Court’s opinion to
preclude deferring to prison officials' reasoning when
that deference is due—that is, when prison officials
offer a plausible explanation for their chosen policy
that is supported by whatever evidence is reasonably
available to them. But the deference that must be
extended to the experience and expertise of prison
administrators does not extend so far that prison
officials may declare a compelling governmental
interest by fiat.
Holt, 135 S. Ct. at 867 (Sotomayor, J., concurring) (quoting
Cutter, 544 U.S. at 723) (other internal quotation marks and
In their objection, defendants’ primary challenge is to the
Magistrate Judge’s refusal to credit and defer to the prison’s
security concerns that: (1) Staples could conceal contraband in
his full-length beard; and (2) Staples’s full-length beard makes
him a highly visible target for abuse by other inmates.4
defendants assert that they can reduce these security risks to
an acceptable level only in SHU, where the ratio of corrections
officers to inmates is much higher than in the medium-security
units (where it can be as low as three officers to 288 inmates).
To determine whether defendants have satisfied their burden
under the second prong of RLUIPA, i.e., to show that SHU is the
“least-restrictive” unit in which to house Staples while he
maintains his full-length beard, the court must be mindful that
Holt, 135 S. Ct. at 867 (Sotomayor, J.,
concurring) (quoting Cutter, 544 U.S. at 723).
The context here
At the hearing before the Magistrate Judge, the defendants
argued that an inmate with a full-length beard is too great a
security risk for reasons having to do with inmate
identification and prison gang displays. The defendants have
wisely decided not to press those arguments in their objection.
is a “dangerous prison environment [where] regulations and
procedures are needed to maintain good order, security and
discipline . . . .”
Id. (internal quotation marks omitted).
Here, unlike Holt, the regulation at issue does not require
that the inmate shave his beard.
Rather, the prison will permit
Staples to grow his beard indefinitely.
The prison requires,
however, that while Staples maintains his full-length beard, he
must reside in SHU, the most secure unit, rather than in CCU or
a medium-security housing unit.
In the analysis below, I begin by summarizing the
differences between the three housing options (SHU, CCU and
medium-security) available to the prison.
Next, I analyze the
security concerns articulated by the prison.
evaluate whether those security concerns meet the defendants’
“exceptionally demanding” burden under RLUIPA, Holt, 135 S. Ct.
at 864, to demonstrate that placing Staples in SHU is the leastrestrictive means of addressing its security interests.
the Magistrate Judge, I conclude that the prison has not, at
this stage of the litigation, satisfied its burden.
There are three housing options at issue: SHU, CCU, and
a medium-custody unit.
To decide whether placement in SHU is the “leastrestrictive” of the three available housing options, it is
necessary to understand the differences between the options.
The prison houses each inmate based on his security
The prison classifies inmates by assessing
their background, need for close supervision, and overall
An inmate's classification is not a static
assessment; rather, it can fluctuate depending on his behavior
For purposes of this case, there are three
Listed in descending order of
perceived dangerousness, the relevant classifications are C-5,
C-4, and C-3.
Once classified, an inmate is assigned to a particular
housing unit at the prison.
There are multiple housing units
but, like the security classifications, only three are relevant
in this case.
Listed in order of most to least restrictive, the
relevant units are: (1) SHU (for inmates classified as C-5); (2)
the “closed custody unit” or “CCU” (for inmates classified as C4); and (3) the medium-security units, also referred to as the
units housing “the general population” (for inmates classified
In SHU, the prison exercises the highest level of
supervision and control over inmates.
Inmates are held in
single cells and are allowed out of their cells only for limited
reasons (e.g., attorney visits, medical appointments, and
In SHU, the prison allows no socializing among
Prior to being transported out of his cell to a
different area such as the exercise yard, an inmate is
handcuffed and physically escorted by a corrections officer.
Once the inmate reaches his destination, the handcuffs are
When the inmate completes his time at his destination,
he is handcuffed and escorted back to his cell.
refers to this as “single movement” because the inmates are
transported only one at a time.
SHU is also described as a
“single cell” unit because inmates are alone in a cell and eat
their meals alone in their cells.
Warden Gerry described SHU as
a “very labor-intensive area, [in which] the staff wear
protective vests . . . for their safety and security.”
Tr., Feb. 20, 2015 (doc. no. 99) 47:25 - 48:3.
Compared to SHU, CCU allows for increased socialization and
CCU has three tiers with 40 inmates on each tier.
The inmates are allowed out of their cells in groups of 20
inmates at a time, three times per day: morning, afternoon and
As Warden Gerry explained, CCU offers inmates “an
opportunity . . . [for] showering, using the telephone, and
recreating within that unit.
They would also be going to the
dining halls and they would move as a group. . . . There’s a lot
more interaction with other inmates and more out-of-cell time
than there is in SHU.”
Hr’g Tr., Feb. 20, 2015 (doc. no. 99)
48:24 - 49:5.
Compared to the inmates in SHU and CCU, the inmates in the
medium-security units have much more freedom of movement and
In a typical medium-security unit, there are
They can have significant out-of-cell time and are
able to interact with all the other 288 inmates in that unit.
They have far less supervision; the ratio of corrections
officers to inmates is approximately three to 288.
allowed to move around the prison in groups and with less
supervision, going from their units to the dining hall, their
jobs, the gym, the outdoor recreational area, and to other areas
of the prison.
See Hr’g Tr., Feb. 20, 2015 (doc. no. 99) 49:8 -
The classification of an inmate as C-5, C-4, or C-3 is not
a perfect correlation for their being placed in SHU, CCU, or a
The record reveals that inmates
classified as C-5, and therefore in need of the highest level of
supervision, reside only in SHU.
However, it is undisputed that
the prison may place a C-3 or C-4 inmate in SHU for reasons
unrelated to the inmate’s security classification.
SHU can serve as a temporary holding place for a C-3 or C-4
inmate while the prison resolves issues pertaining to that
However, there are a limited number of beds in SHU, and
the prison prefers to reserve those beds for the inmates most in
need of close supervision.
While there is testimony in the record about the
differences between these three levels of housing, the evidence
at the hearing before the Magistrate Judge focused on the
different security risks only as between SHU and the mediumsecurity units.
What follows is brief discussion of the
security risks articulated by the prison.
2. Defendants’ security concerns regarding contraband and
The defendants argue that the placement of Staples in SHU
while he maintains his full-length beard is the least
restrictive of the available options on the basis of both a
concern about contraband concealment and distribution, and a
concern for Staples’s safety.
The prison’s contraband-related
security concerns can be summarized as follows:
• Staples’s full-length beard is thick and capable of
• the prison deems Staples to pose a heightened risk of
concealing and transporting contraband based on his
disciplinary history; and
• the higher ratio of corrections officers to inmates in
SHU will permit adequate monitoring of Staples’s beard.
In the context of a medium-security housing unit, the
defendants’ security concerns are entitled to significantly more
deference that those articulated by the prison in Holt.
the situation in Holt, where the prison asserted but could not
explain how a 1/2-inch beard presented greater contrabandrelated security risks than a 1/4-inch beard, the defendants’
security interests here concern the difference between a 1/4inch beard and a full-length beard.
Unlike Holt, where the
Magistrate Judge observed the inmate’s beard and found it
“almost preposterous to think that [the inmate] could hide
contraband” in his short beard, 135 S. Ct. at 861, the
Magistrate Judge here “observed Staples sticking a pen through
his beard and keeping it there for a few moments while he moved
his head . . . .”
R&R (doc. no. 86) at 23.
undisputed evidence in the record supports the defendants’
concerns that Staples would be able to hide contraband in it.
Moreover, the prison's contraband concerns are tethered to
current conditions at NHSP.
One particular worrisome form of
contraband is Suboxone, a drug that can be produced in the form
of a thin, wafer-like strip.
A prison official testified that
inmates have devised means for bringing Suboxone into the prison
and distributing it in a manner that prison officials not been
able to counter effectively.
R&R (doc. no. 86) at 22.
prison is also concerned about the concealing of small metal
objects such as razor blades.
It is undisputed that Staples’s
beard could conceal these types of items.
Importantly, the record reveals that the prison’s
contraband-related security concerns are not abstract and
generalized, but are tied to Staples’s background and
During the hearing, a prison official
testified about Staples’s disciplinary history in the prison.
According to the prison, Staples presents a heightened risk of
contraband concealment and distribution based on the fact that
Staples has a drug-related conviction and has a lengthy
disciplinary history at the prison.
That disciplinary history
includes an incident where Staples, while housed in SHU, used a
razor blade for self-harm, despite knowing that razor blades are
considered contraband in SHU, and an incident in which Staples
concealed prescribed medication in violation of prison rules.
R&R (doc. no. 86) at 22.
The prison witnesses explained the rigorous search
procedures employed at the prison to prevent the concealment of
contraband, and the fact that regular searches of a thick,
coarse, full-length beard would require the kind of hands-on and
invasive interaction with inmates that the prison attempts to
The prison officials testified that, as a general
rule, the more invasive and frequent the search, the greater the
risk that inmates subjected to such searches will become
agitated and aggressive in response.
Where the ratio of
corrections officers to inmates in a medium-security unit is low
(by comparison to SHU where it is one-on-one), the prison deems
SHU a safer environment in which to house an inmate with a fulllength beard.
The record establishes that inmates are allowed to grow the
hair on their heads to whatever length they desire, regardless
of security classification or housing assignment.
On its face,
this policy cuts against the prison’s contraband-related
security justifications for keeping Staples in SHU.
officials testified, however, that an inmate with long head hair
is able to lean over, shake his head and hair, and run his
fingers through his own hair to enable an effective search.
With a full-length beard like Staples’s, however, prison
officials explained that an effective search of such a beard
would require the corrections officer to conduct a hands-on,
more invasive search of the beard.
In response to a question
about how the prison handles an inmate with thick hair and with
a texture more like that of Staples’s beard, a prison official
testified that he was not aware of a single inmate in the prison
who currently meets that description.
Hr’g Tr., Feb. 20, 2015
(doc. no. 99) 176:21 - 177:12.
However, if an inmate had a head
of hair that presented security concerns similar to those
presented by Staples’s beard, the prison would address it with
that inmate, and if necessary, issue directives to the inmate to
cut his hair.
See id. at 177:8 - 178:2.
In addition to concerns about contraband, the prison
articulated concerns about Staples’s safety were he to be housed
in a medium-security unit with his full-length beard.
the prison argued that permitting Staples to transfer into a
medium-security unit with his full-length beard would make him
an immediate and visible target for abuse.
This is especially
the case because, according to the testimony, Staples would be
the sole inmate in the medium security population with a fulllength beard.
Major Fouts, who is chief of security at the
prison and who has worked for the New Hampshire Department of
Corrections for 25 years, was emphatic that housing Staples in a
medium-security unit would cause him harm:
[I]f we were [to place Staples in a mediumsecurity unit], that would scare the heck out of
me for his own safety.
I know inmates. If he was the only inmate out of
1500 that sported a beard like that [in general
population] . . . there’s absolutely no doubt in
my mind that he would be targeted.
. . .
He would be targeted any way an inmate knows how
to target another inmate.
Hr'g Tr., Feb. 20, 2015 (doc. no. 99) 134:3 - 135:2.
In sum, the defendants’ security justifications for keeping
Staples in SHU while he maintains his full-length beard are
related to contraband concealment and Staples’s personal safety.
The question remains whether those justifications are sufficient
to meet the defendants’ “exceptionally demanding” burden, Holt,
135 S. Ct. at 864, to show that placement in SHU is the least
3. SHU is not the least restrictive of the available
To determine whether something is the least restrictive
alternative, a court must first understand the comparators.
That is, a court must answer the narrower question: “Least
restrictive as to what?”
Here, the record reveals that the
comparators to SHU are CCU and a medium-security unit.
defendants’ evidence at the hearing before the Magistrate Judge
consisted entirely of testimony about why a fully-bearded
Staples had to remain in SHU rather than a medium-security unit.
The defendants offered almost no evidence that CCU is an
inappropriate placement for Staples.
In CCU, as compared to a medium-security unit, inmates are
more closely supervised, fewer in number, and have less freedom
The smaller numbers of inmates and closer
supervision in CCU considerably mitigate the heightened concerns
about searching for contraband and inmate safety that prison
There is no indication in the record that
the prison would be unable to closely monitor the contraband
concerns and mitigate the risks to Staples’s safety were Staples
permitted to reside in CCU.
Indeed, Major Fouts’s emphatic
expressions of concern for Staples’s safety were in response to
a question about housing Staples in a medium-security (C-3)
Hr’g Tr., Feb. 20, 2015 (doc. no. 99) 133:12-14.
When asked why CCU is not an appropriate alternative to
SHU, Major Fouts provided the following testimony:
There’s no difference really. It’s easy for
somebody who doesn’t understand the prison to
visualize CCU as just one little minor step down
from the Special Housing Unit, SHU. The reality
is that that’s not an accurate comparison.
Special Housing Unit is the only housing scenario
that we have to me that mitigates . . . all the
concerns we’ve talked about.
CCU from the perspective that we’re talking about
relative to his beard is far more comparable to
general population. Remember that everyone has a
roommate. There’s open movement periods. These
people leave the unit to go to chow or meals,
feeds as we call it. They go off to medical
appointments, they go to mental health
appointments, they actually move. It’s more
restrictive more from a progression perspective
than it is an actual movement perspective. So
again, [SHU] is all that we offer that I think
mitigates the concerns of the beard.
Hr’g Tr., Feb. 20, 2015 (doc. no. 99) 136:25 - 137:17.
Major Fouts’s testimony is the only evidence offered by the
prison to explain why CCU is not sufficient to address the
contraband and safety concerns the prison has articulated.5
Major Fouts’s description of CCU as being “far more comparable
to general population” confirms the fact that CCU is less
restrictive than SHU.
However, his testimony that CCU is akin to a mediumsecurity housing unit in terms of monitoring the prison’s
security concerns is difficult to square with the undisputed
evidence about the two housing units.
A medium-security unit
houses 288 inmates, and each inmate is permitted freedom of
movement from location to location within the unit.
ability to conceal contraband (such as a strip of Suboxone) in
his beard, and go undetected as he transfers contraband from his
beard to one of the other 288 inmates, appears to me to be a
This is especially the case where there are
as few as three corrections officers supervising the 288
In CCU, by comparison, the inmates reside in units of
Indeed, on June 29, 2015, the court held a brief telephone
conference to explore this topic. Counsel for the defendants
reiterated that CCU was similar to a medium-security unit for
purposes of the prison’s security concerns.
They move in groups of 20 inmates and are closely
supervised by the corrections officers.
The level of
supervision and smaller numbers of inmates in CCU would make it
far easier for the prison to monitor Staples’s use of his beard
to hide and transport contraband.
Additionally, the smaller
number of inmates in CCU would increase the prison’s ability to
monitor and protect Staples in the event any inmates (in the
group of 20 with whom he is allowed contact) target him for
To the extent that the prison has declared SHU, as
opposed to CCU, the least-restrictive housing option to address
its security concerns, it has done so “by fiat.”
Ct. at 867 (Sotomayor, J., concurring).
Holt, 135 S.
RLUIPA requires much
Id. at 864.
Having reviewed the record and carefully considered the
defendants’ objection to the R&R, I agree with the Magistrate
Judge’s conclusion that defendants have not met their burden
under RLUIPA to show that the least-restrictive means of
addressing the contraband and safety issues is for Staples to
remain in SHU while he maintains a full-length beard.
record reveals that the prison could house Staples in CCU,
which, because of its smaller size and closer supervision of
inmates, would enable the prison to monitor Staples’s conduct
and his safety while he maintains his full-length beard.
The only portion of the proposed injunction to which
defendants object is paragraph B.
Specifically, the defendants
object to being ordered to house Staples in a medium-security
Paragraph B does not, however, require that the prison
house Staples in a medium-security housing unit.
paragraph B permits the prison to decide whether to house
Staples in CCU (a C-4 unit) or in a medium-security (C-3) unit.
That is, paragraph B permits defendants to house Staples in CCU,
even if he obtains a lower (C-3) security classification.
have modified the language of paragraph B of the proposed
injunction to clarify this for the defendants.
Additionally, because there may be scenarios where
Staples’s full-length beard could present security concerns, the
prison must have the right and freedom to respond to such
Holt, 135 S. Ct. at 866-67 (RLUIPA “affords prison
officials ample ability to maintain security” . . . and prison
officials are “entitled to withdraw an accommodation if the
claimant abuses the exemption in a manner that undermines the
prison’s compelling interests”).
For example, were Staples to
use his beard to conceal contraband, the prison must be
permitted, in its discretion, to upgrade his security
classification to C-5 and to move him to SHU.
does not disagree with this principle; indeed, in his objection
(doc. no. 104), he proposes it as a condition of the injunction.
Accordingly, I have further modified the proposed injunction to
add paragraph E, to clarify that the prison maintains the right,
during the pendency of this litigation, to take punitive or
protective action in response to an actual security threat.
Other than these two modifications, I leave undisturbed the
Magistrate Judge’s proposed injunction.
Having reviewed the entire record, I accept and approve the
Report and Recommendation of Magistrate Judge Andrea K.
Johnstone dated May 11, 2015 (doc. no. 86), and modify the
proposed injunction in two ways: (1) by editing paragraph B to
clarify that the prison may house Staples in CCU (a C-4 unit) in
the event he obtains a C-3 classification; and (2) by adding
paragraph E to clarify the prison’s right to take punitive or
protective actions in the face of actual security risks.
Accordingly, plaintiff’s motion for a preliminary injunction
(doc. no. 1) is granted in part, to the extent consistent with
the Report and Recommendation and this Order, and is otherwise
The court specifically declines to order Staples’s
release from the NHSP at this time.
Defendants, for the
duration of this lawsuit, are subject to the following
A. Defendants must not preclude
obtaining a C-4 or C-3 security
based solely or in part, on his
refusal to trim his full-length
present or past
B. In the event Staples obtains a C-4 or C-3
security classification pursuant to paragraph A,
defendants must not preclude Staples from being
transferred out of SHU and into CCU or a medium
security unit based solely or in part on his
present or past refusal to trim his beard, but
defendants are permitted to house Staples in CCU
in the event he obtains a C-3 security
classification pursuant to paragraph A;
C. Defendants must not initiate new disciplinary
proceedings against Staples, based solely or in
part, on his present or past refusal to trim his
D. Defendants must not preclude Staples from
being scheduled for a parole hearing, or from
being paroled, based solely or in part on
Staples’s C-4 or C-5 security classification,
unless the NHSP certifies that Staples’s
classification remains elevated for reasons other
than his present or past refusal to trim his
full-length beard; and
E. Notwithstanding paragraphs A-D above,
defendants may return Staples to SHU and assign
him an appropriate security classification should
he use his beard in any way to conceal, or
attempt to conceal contraband. Further,
defendants may place Staples in protective
custody should they obtain demonstrable evidence
that Staples has been the subject of any abuse,
assault, or harassment in connection with his
United States District Judge
July 2, 2015
Frank Staples, pro se
Francis Charles Fredericks, Esq.
Lynmarie C. Cusack, Esq.
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