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Davis v. County of Madison

March 5, 2007

MATT A. DAVIS, INMATE #K97279, PLAINTIFF,
v.
COUNTY OF MADISON, ILLINOIS, BOB HERTZ, JOE GULASH, BOB HOLLENBECK, AND UNKNOWN PARTY, DEFENDANTS.



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

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

Plaintiff, a former detainee at the Madison County Jail, brings this action for deprivations of his constitutional rights pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. This case is now before the Court for a preliminary review of the complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A, which provides:

(a) Screening.-- The court shall review, before docketing, if feasible or, in any event, as soon as practicable after docketing, a complaint in a civil action in which a prisoner seeks redress from a governmental entity or officer or employee of a governmental entity.

(b) Grounds for Dismissal.-- On review, the court shall identify cognizable claims or dismiss the complaint, or any portion of the complaint, if the complaint--

(1) is frivolous, malicious, or fails to state a claim on which relief may be granted; or

(2) seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief.

28 U.S.C. § 1915A. An action or claim is frivolous if "it lacks an arguable basis either in law or in fact." Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 325 (1989). Upon careful review of the complaint and any supporting exhibits, the Court finds it appropriate to exercise its authority under § 1915A; portions of this action are subject to summary dismissal for failure to state a claim.

To facilitate the orderly management of future proceedings in this case, and in accordance with the objectives of Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 8(f) and 10(b), the Court finds it appropriate to break the claims in Plaintiff's pro se complaint and other pleadings into numbered counts, as shown below. The parties and the Court will use these designations in all future pleadings and orders, unless otherwise directed by a judicial officer of this Court. The designation of these counts does not constitute an opinion as to their merit.

COUNT 1: Against all defendants for imposing punishment on Plaintiff without due process of law.

COUNT 2: Against all defendants for denial of access to courts. COUNT 3: Against all defendants for denial of visitation privileges.

GENERAL CONSIDERATIONS

To state a claim under § 1983, a plaintiff must allege the violation of a right secured by the Constitution and laws of the United States, and must show that the alleged deprivation was committed by a person acting under color of state law. West v. Atkins, 487 U.S. 42, 48 (1988). Generally, confinement of pretrial detainees may not be punitive, because "under the Due Process Clause, a detainee may not be punished prior to an adjudication of guilt." Bell v. Wolfish, 441 U.S. 520, 535 (1979). Thus, conditions of pretrial confinement must be "reasonably related to a legitimate governmental objective." Id. at 539. See also Murphy v. Walker, 51 F.3d 714, 717 (7th Cir. 1995); Brownell v. Figel, 950 F.2d 1285 (7th Cir. 1991). At the same time, "[t]he conditions of imprisonment, whether of pretrial detainees or of convicted criminals, do not reach even the threshold of constitutional concern until a showing is made of 'genuine privations and hardship over an extended period of time.'" Duran v. Elrod, 760 F.2d 756, 759 (7th Cir. 1985).

COUNT 1

Plaintiff states that after an "altercation" with a guard in the Madison County Jail in March 2005, he was placed in "the hole," and remained there for over one year. The ant-infested cell in segregation had inadequate lighting, inadequate ventilation, no hot water, no mirror, no toilet paper, and the walls were smeared with urine, feces, and pepper spray. He was stripped of all of his clothing, and given only a "suicide suit" to wear and a "suicide blanket" for sleeping. He was not allowed any legal materials, mail, or phone privileges for two months, until May 2005. He had to sleep on the concrete floor until he was issued a mattress in July 2005. He was denied clothing until August 2005, and then he was allowed only the Madison County Jail jumpsuit. He was denied underwear until December 2005. He was denied any correspondence from family until November 2005. He was denied correspondence to his family or his attorney, all writing materials, commissary privileges, and cleaning supplies for one year, until March 2006. Visitation with both family and his attorney ...


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