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JONES v. LANE

August 5, 1983

GUS A. JONES, PLAINTIFF,
v.
MICHAEL P. LANE, DIRECTOR ILLINOIS DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Shadur, District Judge.

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER*fn1

Gus Jones ("Jones") sues Director Michael Lane ("Lane") of the Illinois Department of Corrections (the "Department"), alleging Lane violated the Fourteenth Amendment and 42 U.S.C. § 1983 ("Section 1983") when he denied Jones placement in a work release program while Jones was incarcerated at the East Moline Correctional Center ("East Moline").*fn2 Jones's Amended Complaint (the "Complaint") now advances three claims:*fn3

    1. Count I says Lane was arbitrary and
  capricious in basing his decision on the length
  of Jones's sentence and therefore violated
  Jones's Fourteenth Amendment due process rights.
    2. Count II charges Lane's decision deprived
  Jones of equal protection of the laws because
  prisoners with equal or greater sentences were
  granted work release requests.
    3. Count IV asserts Lane did not follow
  established criteria for work release placement
  in Jones's case, thereby violating Jones's due
  process rights.

Lane has now moved under Fed.R.Civ.P. ("Rule") 12(b)(6) to dismiss Jones's Complaint for failure to state a claim. For the reasons stated in this memorandum opinion and order Lane's motion is granted as to Counts I and IV but denied as to Count II.

Facts*fn4

Jones was confined to East Moline July 26, 1971 to serve long sentences*fn5 for armed robbery and aggravated battery. Some time before July 1, 1981*fn6 Jones requested placement in a work release program, and on July 1 he was accepted into such a program operated by the Salvation Army (Ex. A).

On August 11 Jones's request was denied by a Department Clinical Coordinator based on a Transfer Coordinator's citation of the length of Jones's sentences (Ex. B). But on December 1 Department's Administrative Review Board (the "Administrative Board"), after reviewing the Clinical Coordinator's denial, recommended Jones be placed in a work release program (Ex. C). Lane, however, declined to concur in that recommendation, approving the rationale originally advanced by Department's Transfer Coordinator (Exs. C and D).

Thereafter Jones renewed his request. In July 1982*fn7 that request was approved by East Moline's Warden, and in November the Administrative Board again recommended Jones for work release (Ex. E). But Lane again declined to concur, citing the length of Jones's sentence (Exs. E and F).

There was other institutional input relevant to the work release decision. In March Department's Prisoner Review Board (the "Parole Board") had denied Jones parole over one member's dissent (Ex. G). In November the Parole Board "highly recommended" Jones's consideration for work release (Ex. H). That recommendation preceded the November Administrative Board work release recommendation that was then rejected by Lane (Ex. E).

Counts I and IV

Assertion of Jones's substantive or procedural due process claims requires him to identify a liberty interest denied by state action (no property interest is even arguably implicated). Such a liberty interest might arise from the Due Process Clause itself or from state law and administrative regulations. Hewitt v. Helms, ___ U.S. ___, 103 S.Ct. 864, 869-70, 74 L.Ed.2d 675 (1983).

But Jones admits (Ans.Mem. 4) the Constitution itself does not confer any liberty interest applicable to his work release claim. See Burbank v. Franzen, No. 80 C 3325, slip op. at 5 (N.D.Ill. March 16, 1981) (Marshall, J.). Jones also admits (Ans.Mem. 4-5) neither relevant state statutes nor regulations create any entitlement to work release because those statutes and regulations grant state officials unfettered discretion in awarding prisoners participation in work release programs. Compare Olim v. Wakinekona, ___ U.S. ___, 103 S.Ct. 1741, 1747-48, 75 L.Ed.2d 813 and Hewitt, id., 103 S.Ct. at 871. Compare also Shango v. Jurich, 681 F.2d 1091, 1099-1102 (7th Cir. 1982) and Johnson v. Brelje, 701 F.2d 1201, 1205 (7th Cir. 1983). Nonetheless Jones seeks (Ans.Mem. 5-10) to ...


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