United States District Court, Northern District of Illinois, E.D
September 27, 1984
REUBEN TAYLOR, PLAINTIFF,
A. TAYLOR, CORRINE FRANKLIN, ETHEL GINGOLD, AND PAUL KLINCAR, DEFENDANTS.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Aspen, District Judge:
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
Plaintiff Reuben Taylor, a prisoner at Graham Correctional
Center, brings this pro se action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983
seeking declaratory and injunctive relief. He charges the
defendants, members of the Illinois Prisoner Review Board, with
violation of his constitutional rights in the denial of his
application for parole. Defendants have moved for summary
judgment on the ground that there is no genuine issue as to any
material fact and that they are entitled to judgment as a
matter of law. For the reasons set forth below, the Court
grants defendants' motion.
The material facts are not in dispute. Plaintiff states that
in 1972 he committed the crimes for which he is currently
incarcerated. He received concurrent sentences of 150 to 200
years for murder and 20 to 60 years for armed robbery. On June
6, 1983, plaintiff appeared before the Illinois Prisoner
Review Board ("Board"), which denied him parole, stating its
rationale as follows:
The Prisoner Review Board in considering your
particular case for the possibility of parole
noted many factors including but not limited to
your face to face interview, the documents in
your file, the fact that you are serving
sentences of 150-200 years for murder, 20-60
years for armed robbery (5cc).
Your "A" grade status is noted, as well as your
academic achievements while incarcerated.
However, the Board feels that more time in a
structured environment is necessary to ensure
your successful reentry into the free society.
Accordingly, we deny.
The Board also indicated that it would next consider
plaintiff's application for parole in June, 1984.
Plaintiff challenges the Board's ruling on essentially two
grounds. Plaintiff's first argument rests upon the Seventh
Circuit's decision in Welsh v. Mizell, 668 F.2d 328 (7th Cir.),
cert. denied, 459 U.S. 923, 103 S.Ct. 235, 74 L.Ed.2d 186
(1982), rev'd, Heirens v. Mizell, 729 F.2d 449 (7th Cir. 1984).
The Welsh court held that application of retributive justice
and general deterrence criteria to parole applicants who
committed their offenses prior to January 1, 1973, violated the
ex post facto clause of the Constitution. In the instant case,
plaintiff, who committed the crimes for which he is
incarcerated prior to January 1, 1973, argues that the Board
violated the dictates of Welsh by impermissibly relying on
general deterrence criteria to deny him parole.
Assuming arguendo that the Board considered general
deterrence to reach its decision, plaintiff's ex post facto
argument fails in light of the Seventh Circuit's recent holding
in Heirens v. Mizell, 729 F.2d 449 (7th Cir. 1984). There, the
court overruled Welsh and held that no ex post facto violation
occurs where the Illinois Prisoner Review Board applies
retributive justice and general deterrence criteria to parole
applicants who committed their crimes before 1973.
Plaintiffs second contention is that the Board denied him
due process by failing to articulate a sufficient statement of
reasons for denying him parole. At the outset, we note that
the scope of judicial review of the Board's decision is very
narrow. Heirens, 729 F.2d at 467. "If the Parole Board cites to
facts upon which its reasons for denial of parole can be
justified, due process is met." Id. In Walker v. Prisoner
Review Board, 694 F.2d 499 (7th Cir. 1982), the court held that
an enunciation of the prisoner's three offenses with an
indication of the extreme length of the sentences (indicating
that the sentencing judge considered the criminal conduct to be
particularly heinous) was sufficient to support the Board's
conclusion that it would deprecate the seriousness of the
offense or cause disrespect for the law to parole the prisoner
after thirteen years.
Following the Walker court's analysis, approved in Heirens,
729 F.2d at 467, we consider the Board's rationale for denying
plaintiff parole in the case at bar. The Board's statement
refers to plaintiff's conviction of two serious crimes, murder
and armed robbery. The sentence of 150 to 200 years for murder
together with the 20 to 60 years for armed robbery demonstrate
the trial judge's determination that plaintiff's specific
conduct was especially heinous and that lengthy incarceration
was necessary. Under these circumstances, we believe that the
Board was justified in concluding that more than eleven years
of confinement was necessary to ensure plaintiff's successful
return to the free community. Thus, the Board's rationale for
denying plaintiff parole comported with due process
For the reasons stated herein, the Court grants defendants'
motion for summary judgment. It is so ordered.
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