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Upchurch v. Prewitt

April 23, 2007

ANTHONY UPCHURCH, PLAINTIFF,
v.
GLEN PREWITT, SANDRA FUNK AND SUE REDSHAW, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Harold A. Baker United States District Judge

Order

This only issue remaining in this case is whether Defendants Funk and Redshaw were personally responsible for Plaintiff's inability to practice his religion during his incarceration in Western Illinois Correctional Center in part of 2003.

Plaintiff asserts he has always been African Hebrew Israelite, but that his identification card incorrectly listed him as Christian, which prevented him from practicing his true religion. Defendant Prewitt allegedly refused to allow Plaintiff to correct his religious designation, which precluded Plaintiff from practicing his true religion. However, Defendant Prewitt died November 21, 2004, and he was subsequently dismissed in both his individual and official capacities. See 8/29/06 Order and 9/21/06 text entry. Before the court is the motion for summary judgment by Defendants Funk and Redshaw, which is granted for the reasons below.

Undisputed Facts

The Court adopts the undisputed facts set forth in its prior summary judgment order (d/e 30), which are set forth below to the extent necessary, along with additional undisputed facts taken from the motion before the court.

1. In October, 2003, the plaintiff met with defendant Prewitt, then the Chaplain at Western, and asked to change the religion listed on his identification card from Christian to Hebrew Israelite. Prewitt denied the request.

2. The plaintiff filed a grievance challenging Prewitt's decision, asking again to change his stated religion to Hebrew Israelite.

3. The counselor's response to the grievance states:

Chaplain Prewitt states he spoke to you on 10/21/03. You stated to him that you are now a Christian, of the Apostolic faith. You also stated that if "House of Yahweh" services were offered, you would not attend. You stated you grew up in the "House of Yahweh" religion and did not realize there is no similarity between "House of Yahweh" & Hebrew religion.

4. Defendant Redshaw, the grievance officer, repeated the counselor's response and recommended denial of the plaintiff's grievance, for the stated reason that "staff follow[ed] established institutional policy and procedures as it relates to inmate's religion."

5. On December 15, 2003, the Administrative Review Board denied the plaintiff's appeal, repeating the counselor's findings and stating:

Per Department Rule 425.30(e) committed persons shall be requested to designate their religious affiliation during the orientation process. Department Rule 425.30(h) stated that any committed person desiring to designate their religious affiliation after the orientation process or desiring to change their designated religious affiliation shall submit the written request to the facility chaplain. The facility chaplain may refuse to change the affiliation if it is determined that the change is being requested for other than religious reasons. The determination may be based, among other matters, on the frequency of changes or a pattern of changing religious affiliation prior to a particular faith group's scheduled holiday or celebration.

6. The plaintiff wrote a letter to the Warden in December, 2003, denying that he had told Prewitt that he was a Christian. The plaintiff wrote that he had worshiped as an African Hebrew Israelite before his incarceration, and only wished to continue to do so. He stated that Prewitt had referred to the plaintiff's request as a "step backward" from Christianity. The plaintiff wrote, "I feel like I'm being forced to be a Christian." He asked ...


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