The opinion of the court was delivered by: Leighton, District Judge.
This is a civil rights action brought pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983
against certain officials at Stateville Correctional Center in Joliet,
Illinois. Plaintiff Rabb Ra Chaka, an inmate at Stateville, claims that
disciplinary actions taken by the defendant officials violated prison
regulations, deprived him of his constitutional right to due process, and
subjected him to cruel and unusual punishment in violation of the Eighth
Amendment. Plaintiff seeks both declaratory and monetary relief.
Jurisdiction is based on 28 U.S.C. § 1343. The cause is now before
the court on defendants' motion to dismiss, and for the purposes of this
motion the alleged facts are taken as true.
Plaintiff is employed as an Administrative Legal Assistant by the Burr
Oak Library at Stateville. On February 13, 1981, while he was working in
the library, residents from one of the prison units were brought there by
two of the defendants, Lieutenants C. E. Nash and R. Hall. Several
residents requested typewriters which the library provides for use by the
general prison population. On this particular day, however, there were
not enough typewriters to go around, and Lt. Nash told plaintiff to give
the typewriter he had been using to one of the residents. Plaintiff
refused and was cited by Nash for violation of four disciplinary rules.
Plaintiff was then escorted back to his cell block by Nash and Hall who
reported plaintiff's conduct to Lieutenant Schomig. Schomig, who was not
the shift supervisor, approved and signed a disciplinary report charging
plaintiff with violation of the prison's disciplinary rules and then gave
a copy to plaintiff.
After Schomig approved the disciplinary report, plaintiff was placed in
a segregation unit pending a hearing by the prison Adjustment Committee
on the charges against him. Plaintiff alleges that the cell he was held
in was small, unsanitary and rodent-infested, and that he was forced to
sleep on a mattress on the floor. Plaintiff remained in the segregation
unit for three days. On February 16, 1981 plaintiff appeared before
defendant Lieutenant Kerfin and the Adjustment Committee. The Committee
read the charges against plaintiff and two statements submitted to them
by plaintiff's supervisor at the library. Plaintiff was given the
opportunity to tell his side of the story but was not allowed to call
witnesses on his own behalf. The committee found plaintiff guilty of the
rule violations charged and sentenced him to 15 days in segregation.
On February 27, 1981 plaintiff filed this suit alleging several
violations of his constitutional rights arising out of the events he
describes. His action is based on four claims. First, that in refusing to
give Nash the typewriter he was following library policy which required
that he keep the typewriter to complete his assigned tasks. Plaintiff
alleges that because he was acting pursuant to instructions from his work
supervisor, he was excused from compliance with the prison conduct
rules. Thus, his placement in segregation based on a violation of these
rules was unconstitutional because he was being punished when he had done
nothing wrong. Second, plaintiff contends that Lt. Schomig, in signing
the report and authorizing plaintiff's confinement, violated
Administrative Regulations 804(C)(1) and (2) which require that a
disciplinary report be signed by a shift supervisor and that the
supervisor determine whether an inmate should be confined pending a
hearing. Plaintiff contends that the lieutenant's violation of these
rules deprived him of his constitutional rights. Third, plaintiff claims
that the Adjustment Committee's refusal to call the witnesses that he
requested violated his Fourteenth Amendment right to due process.
Finally, plaintiff alleges that the conditions of his confinement in
segregation pending his hearing were so bad as to constitute cruel and
In support of their motion, defendants argue that plaintiff has failed
to state a claim on which relief may be granted because none of
defendants' actions which plaintiff complains of, are constitutional
violations. Defendants maintain that the fact that plaintiff was
following library policy did not relieve him of his obligation to comply
with the general disciplinary regulations of the prison. They insist that
even if Lt. Nash's order was in violation of library policy, the
plaintiff was required to follow it. Defendants further argue that because
plaintiff was obliged to obey Lt. Nash's order regardless of the library
policy, any testimony at the Adjustment Committee hearing as to the
specifics of the library policy, was irrelevant to the question of whether
plaintiff had violated prison rules. because Subparagraphs (G), (8) and
(9) of Administrative Regulation 804 give the Committee the discretion to
exclude witesses whose testimony would be irrelevant, had the authority
and the right to exclude the witnesses that the plaintiff requested.
Finally, the defendants contend that the conditions of confinement
complained of by the plaintiffs are not of such a nature and quality as
to violate the Eighth Amendment prohibition against cruel and unusual
For the following reasons, the court agrees with defendants that
plaintiff's allegations do not state a claim for relief; therefore, the
motion to dismiss is granted.
Plaintiff complains of a deprivation of both his substantive and his
procedural due process rights. As to his substantive rights, plaintiff
contends that he was wrongfully punished for actions which did not
constitute rule violations because, in taking those actions, he was
following instructions from his job supervisor. Plaintiff's
constitutional claim seems to be based on the fact that, in disciplining
plaintiff the defendant prison officials gave priority to plaintiff's
obligations under the prison rules rather than his obligations under the
library rules. Therefore, the question is whether the defendants'
prioritizing of the plaintiff's duties in this manner constitutionally
This court can find nothing in defendants' action which conflicts with
the Constitution or wrongfully infringes plaintiff's protected rights.
Plaintiff has no constitutional right to one set of behavior guidelines
over another. There are no allegations in the complaint that the
defendants' choice was arbitrary or capricious or that plaintiff was
being treated differently from other inmates. The fact that plaintiff may
have been put in a difficult position by being forced to choose between
the rules of his job and those of the prison may justify lenient
treatment in his case; however, defendants'
failure to completely excuse plaintiff's conduct because of this conflict
does not reach the level of a constitutional violation.
The decision concerning whether to discipline a prisoner, which
plaintiff is challenging in this suit, is a decision relating to the
internal security and control of the prison. The Supreme Court has
admonished federal courts to avoid interfering with this area of
Prison administrators. . . should be accorded wide
ranging deference in the adoption and execution of
policies and practices which in their judgment are
needed to preserve internal order and discipline and
to maintain institutional security.
Bell v. Wolfish, 441 U.S. 520, 547, 99 S.Ct. 1861, 1878, 60 L.Ed.2d 447
(1979); see Procunier v. Martimez, 416 U.S. 396, 405, 94 S.Ct. 1800,
1807, 40 L.Ed.2d 224 (1974). The rule in the decided cases makes it clear
that "federal courts should avoid enmeshing themselves in the minutiae of
prison operations in the name of the Constitution." Layton v. Wolff,
516 F. Supp. 629, 637 (D.Nev. 1981). In light of the approach taught by a
number of Supreme Court decisions, this court will not interfere ...