due process of law. Defendants filed a motion for summary judgment.
II. SUMMARY JUDGMENT - STANDARD OF REVIEW
Under FED. R. CIV. P. 56(c), summary judgment shall be granted if the record shows that "there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law." Black v. Henry Pratt Co., 778 F.2d 1278, 1281 (7th Cir. 1985). The moving party has the burden of providing proper documentary evidence to show the absence of a genuine issue of material fact. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 91 L. Ed. 2d 265, 106 S. Ct. 2548 (1986). A genuine issue of material fact exists when "there is sufficient evidence favoring the nonmoving party for a jury to return a verdict for that party." Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 249, 91 L. Ed. 2d 202, 106 S. Ct. 2505 (1986). Unquestionably, in determining whether a genuine issue of material fact exists, the evidence is to be taken in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party. Adickes v. S.H. Kress & Co., 398 U.S. 144, 26 L. Ed. 2d 142, 90 S. Ct. 1598 (1970). Once the moving party has met its burden, the opposing party must come forward with specific evidence, not mere allegations or denials of the pleadings, which demonstrates that there is a genuine issue for trial. Howland v. Kilquist, 833 F.2d 639 (7th Cir. 1987).
The court finds that Terrell was not deprived of a protected liberty interest by being placed in segregation for sixty days; furthermore, even assuming a protected liberty interest was implicated, the court finds that Terrell was afforded due process of law.
A. Liberty Interest
The Fourteenth Amendment prohibits a state from "depriving any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law ...." An individual is not stripped completely of constitutional protections upon incarceration, i.e., he retains some due process rights, but, he obviously loses many of the protections afforded to ordinary citizens. See Rowe v. DeBruyn, 17 F.3d 1047, 1049 (7th Cir. 1994).
The seminal case as to whether Terrell's placement in segregation amounted to a deprivation of a liberty interest is Sandin v. Conner, 515 U.S. 472, 115 S. Ct. 2293, 132 L. Ed. 2d 418 (1995). In Sandin, the Supreme Court noted that although most prison regulations are not intended to create liberty interests, in limited situations the regulations can indeed create federally enforceable liberty interests. See Whitford v. Boglino, 63 F.3d 527, 531 (7th Cir. 1995) (citing Sandin, 115 S. Ct. at 2298-99). The critical inquiry involves a comparison of the conditions of segregation with the conditions of confinement of the prison's general population. See Bryan v. Duckworth, 88 F.3d 431, 433 (7th Cir. 1996) (analyzing Sandin). "If the conditions of confinement in segregation were not so different from those of the general prison population as to 'work a major disruption in his environment,' or equivalently an 'atypical, significant deprivation,'" then there was no deprivation of liberty. Id. (quoting Sandin, 115 S. Ct. at 2301). But even if conditions in segregation are considerably harsher than those of the normal prison environment, "a few days or even weeks" of such considerably harsher conditions "might not" qualify as a deprivation of liberty. See id.
The court interprets the Seventh Circuit's analysis of Sandin -- particularly the Bryan case -- as creating a sort of balancing test. That is, the court must balance the harshness of the conditions in segregation (as compared to the conditions in the normal prison environment) with the amount of time spent in segregation. In other words, the greater the harshness (i.e., the disparity between the conditions in segregation and the conditions in the normal prison environment) then the lesser the amount of time that need be spent in segregation to give rise to a liberty deprivation. Or, stated in yet another way, the lesser the harshness, the greater the amount of time that need be spent in segregation to give rise to a liberty deprivation.
With the balancing test in mind, the court analyzes the instant case. Here, as noted, the only punishment Terrell received for being charged with possessing dangerous contraband was sixty days in segregation. The conditions in segregation varied from the conditions of the general prison environment.
While in segregation, Terrell lost access to the prison yard where he exercised daily, he was unable to attend religious services which he attended on a weekly basis, and he lost his job where he worked daily.
Perhaps such losses could qualify as a major disruption in Terrell's environment. There is definitely something more than an insignificant amount of "harshness" present -- particularly since he exercised and worked at his job on a daily basis. But, certainly, these are not considerably extreme variations in prison life.
Regardless, that's just one side of the scale. The other side is that he lost the privileges for only two months -- not a very long time. Because of the short amount of time spent in segregation and the nonextreme nature of the lost privileges, the court finds that the scale of justice tips against finding a deprivation of a liberty interest. Accordingly, since Terrell was not deprived of a liberty interest, whether he received due process of the law is irrelevant.
B. Due Process
Assuming Terrell was deprived of a protected liberty interest, he received due process; thus, no constitutional violation ensued. In Wolff v. McDonnell, 418 U.S. 539, 41 L. Ed. 2d 935, 94 S. Ct. 2963 (1974), the Supreme Court set out the minimum requirements of procedural due process to be afforded prisoners in disciplinary proceedings. Before being deprived of a protected liberty interest, a prisoner is entitled to:
1) advance written notice of the claimed violation;