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Rose v. Snyder

February 27, 2007


The opinion of the court was delivered by: David R. Herndon United States District Judge


I. Introduction and Background

On November 24, 2003, Keon Rose, an inmate housed at the Stateville Correctional Center, filed suit against Defendants for deprivations of his consitutional rights pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 (Doc. 1). Thereafter, he filed an Amended Complaint on May 24, 2004 (Doc. 7). Plaintiff claims that he has been subject to religious prosecution by the Illinois Department of Corrections' employees while house at Menard Correctional Center. Specifically, Rose contends that he is a member of the Rastafarian faith and the he wore his hair in dreadlocks in observance of his religious faith. Rose contends that because he refused to remove or undo his dreadlocks in compliance with Department policy, he received a series of disciplinary tickets and as a result spent more time in segregation. Rose also alleges that he was eventually required to cut his hair in 2002. On May 19, 2005, the Court conducted its preliminary review of Rose Amended Complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A (Doc. 11). The Court construed Rose's Amended Complaint as raising a free exercise claim under the First Amendment.

Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(B), Magistrate Judge Clifford J. Proud submitted a Report and Recommendation ("the Report") on February 2, 2007 (Doc. 44). The Report recommends that the Court grant Defendants' motion for summary judgment (Doc. 35). Specifically, the Report recommends granting summary judgment as the Department's "grooming policy is reasonably related to a legitimate penological interest." (Doc. 44, p. 7).

The Report was sent to the parties with a notice informing them of their right to appeal by way of filing "objections" within ten days of service of the Report. To date, Plaintiff filed objections to the Report (Doc. 46) and Defendants filed a response to Plaintiff's objection (Doc. 47). Since timely objections have been filed, this Court must undertake de novo review of the Report. 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(B); FED.R.CIV.P.72(b); Southern District of Illinois Local Rule 73.1(b); Govas v. Chalmers, 965 F.2d 298, 301 (7th Cir. 1992). The Court may "accept, reject or modify the recommended decision." Willis v. Caterpillar Inc., 199 F.3d 902, 904 (7th Cir. 1999). In making this determination, the Court must look at all the evidence contained in the record and give fresh consideration to those issues to which specific objection has been made. Id.

II. Summary Judgment

Summary judgment is proper where the pleadings and affidavits, if any, "show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." FED.R.CIV.P.56(c); Wyatt v. UNUM Life Insurance Company of America, 223 F.3d 543, 545 (7th Cir. 2000); Oates v. Discovery Zone, 116 F.3d 1161, 1165 (7th Cir. 1997); See alsoCelotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986)).The movant bears the burden of establishing the absence of fact issues and entitlement to judgment as a matter of law. Wollin v. Gondert, 192 F.3d 616, 621-22 (7th Cir. 1999). The Court must consider the entire record, drawing reasonable inferences and resolving factual disputes in favor of the non-movant. Schneiker v. Fortis Insurance Co., 200 F.3d 1055, 1057 (7th Cir. 2000); Baron v. City of Highland Park, 195 F.3d 333, 337-38 (7th Cir. 1999).

In response to a motion for summary judgment, the non-movant may not simply rest upon the allegations in his pleadings. Smith v. Sheahan, 189 F.3d 529, 532 (7th Cir. 1999). Rather, the non-moving party must show through specific evidence that an issue of fact remains on matters for which he bears the burden of proof at trial. Smith v. Severn, 129 F.3d 419, 425 (7th Cir. 1997); Celotex, 477 U.S. at 324. In reviewing a summary judgment motion, the Court does not determine the truth of asserted matters, but rather decides whether there is a genuine factual issue for trial. EEOC v. Sears, Robuck & Co., 233 F.3d 432, 436 (7th Cir. 2000).

III. Analysis

Under the First Amendment, prisoners "retain the right to practice their religion to the extent that such practice is compatible with the legitimate penological demands of the state." Al-Alamin v. Gramley, 926 F.2d 680, 686 (7th Cir.1991). A prison regulation or policy that might otherwise unconstitutionally impinge on an inmate's First Amendment rights will survive a challenge if it is reasonably related to legitimate penological interests. See Turner v. Safley, 482 U.S. 78, 89 (1987) and O'Lone v. Estate of Shabazz, 482 U.S. 342, 353(1987). Several factors are relevant to evaluating the reasonableness of a prison regulation impacting First Amendment rights:

(1) whether a valid, rational connection exists between the regulation and a legitimate government interest behind the rule:

(2) whether there are alternative means of exercising the right in question that remain available to prisoners;

(3) the impact accommodation of the asserted constitutional right would have guards and other inmates and on allocation of prison resources; and

(4) although the regulation need not satisfy a least restrictive alternative test, the existence of obvious, easy alternatives may be evidence ...

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