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Davis v. Peters

June 27, 2008


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Judge Rebecca R. Pallmeyer


Plaintiff Earl S. Davis is a civilly committed detainee in the custody of the Illinois Department of Human Services ("DHS"). Since 1998, he has been housed in the DHS's Treatment and Detention Facility ("TDF") pursuant to the Sexually Violent Persons Commitment Act, 725 ILCS 207/1. In this suit, Davis claims that the conditions of his confinement violate his constitutional rights to equal protection and substantive due process. He names the following Defendants:

(1) Timothy Budz, the former facility director of the TDF; (2) Thomas Monahan, the present TDF facility director; (3) former DHS Secretary Howard Peters, III; (4) former DHS Secretary Linda R. Baker; and (5) present DHS Secretary Carol L. Adams.*fn1

Davis alleges that Budz, Peters, and Baker violated his Fourteenth Amendment rights to substantive due process and equal protection of the laws by subjecting him to unjustifiably harsh conditions of confinement. The court has previously granted summary judgment against Davis on his claims that Defendants violated his constitutional rights by providing him with inadequate health care and drinking water, but determined that he was entitled to a trial on his claims regarding harsh security measures. (Minute Entry [310] in Case No. 99 C 2861, June 19, 2007.) Having heard evidence at a bench trial in June 2007, the court finds in Davis's favor in his claim against Budz, and awards him $1,102.50 in compensatory damages on this claim. Davis's claims against Baker and Peters are dismissed.


The following findings of fact are made pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 52(a), based upon the stipulated facts and the evidence presented at trial.

I. The Plaintiff's Background

On June 17, 2007, the day he testified in this case, Earl Davis was sixty-four years old and had been in prison or in civil confinement for most of his adult life. (Tr. at 144.) In 1962, Davis was incarcerated for an unidentified misdemeanor offense*fn2 for six months at the Vandalia Correctional Center, a minimum security facility managed by the Illinois Department of Corrections ("IDOC"). (Id. at 78, 149.) Starting in either 1962 or 1963, Davis served a 14.5 year term for an unknown crime in Menard Correctional Center, which is an IDOC maximum security facility. (Id. at 81.) After being released from Menard in approximately 1977, Davis was convicted of a crime in Arizona in 1981, where he spent "some time in prisons." (Id. at 73, 150.) He was convicted again in 1990 and spent fifty-five days in Graham Correctional Center, an IDOC maximum security prison, followed by a stint at Centralia Correctional Center, an IDOC minimum security facility. (Id. at 149.) Davis was released on parole in 1996, but violated parole the following year, and ended up back at Centralia. (Id. at 93, 148-49.) Davis was classified in the least restrictive category-an "A grade" inmate-throughout his time at the IDOC. (Tr. at 93.)

II. Davis's Commitment to the TDF

The Sexually Violent Persons Commitment Act ("SVPCA") defines a "sexually violent person" as someone who has "been convicted of a sexually violent offense, . . . adjudicated delinquent for a sexually violent offense, or . . . found not guilty of a sexually violent offense by reason of insanity" and who "suffers from a mental disorder that makes it substantially probable that the person will engage in acts of sexual violence." 725 ILCS 207/5(f). The Illinois Attorney General or an Illinois State's Attorney may bring a civil petition for a determination that an inmate in IDOC custody is a sexually violent person. 725 ILCS 207/15. If the state can prove this beyond a reasonable doubt, that individual may be indefinitely committed "until such time as the person is no longer a sexually violent person." 725 ILCS 207/35-40.

Davis was civilly committed pursuant to the SVPCA and assigned to the first TDF facility, located at the Sheridan Correctional Center ("the Sheridan TDF"), in September 1998. (Stipulation ¶¶ 1-2, 22, Section I of Final Pretrial Order [288] in Case No. 99 C 2861, April 20, 2007.) Budz became the facility director for the Sheridan TDF on January 4, 1999. (Id. ¶ 17.) In 2000, the TDF moved to a new location, an annex to the Joliet Correctional Center ("the Joliet TDF"). (Id. ¶ 28.) At the time of trial, Davis was detained at a new TDF in Rushville, Illinois. (Tr. at 74.) As Defendant Budz acknowledged, Davis was not involved in any serious disciplinary proceedings during his time at the TDF. (Tr. at 279.)

III. The 1999 Lockdown of the TDF

Budz testified that on October 23, 1999, sixty to seventy detainees were congregated in the yard of the Sheridan TDF, when approximately seventeen of them attempted to organize a collective action of resistance against the TDF staff. (Id. at 348, 351.) Their plans included work stoppages and a collective refusal to participate in treatment activities. (Id. at 348.) In an effort to gather additional support for this planned resistance, two detainees battered other detainees. (Id.) According to Budz, the participating inmates were "intimidating residents to refuse to participate in treatment." (Id.) Davis was not among the seventeen participants involved in the disturbance. (Id. at 352.)

In order to forestall further violence and protect TDF detainees, Budz, in collaboration with other TDF and DHS personnel, instituted a "lockdown" of the Sheridan TDF, in which detainees were initially confined to their cells for twenty-four hours per day, without access to showers. (Tr. at 121-22, 352-53.) After three days of interviews, the TDF staff had determined which detainees had been participants in the disturbance, and Budz modified the lockdown to restore some privileges to the detainee population, including access to showers. (Id. at 351-53.) Davis admitted that he was allowed to shower on November 1, 1994, nine days after the lockdown began. (Id. at 155.)

The length of the lockdown is disputed. According to Budz's testimony, Davis remained on lockdown, along with all the other detainees, for an additional seven days after the participants were identified. (Tr. at 352.) Davis, by contrast, testified that the lockdown lasted for close to thirty days. (Id. at 122.) In a report written in mid-November 1999, Budz stated that the lockdown had lasted for a total of twenty-one days, until November 12. (Morning Report, 11/10/99--11/15/99, at 1, Defs.' Ex. 42.)

IV. The Escape of TDF Residents Runge and Conley

On October 6, 2000, detainees Paul Runge and Greg Conley escaped while being transported in a van from the Sheridan TDF to a court appearance in Cook County. (Tr. at 252; Monthly Report, 11/1/2000, at 1, Pl.'s Ex. 1 at 0026.) Runge and Conley, along with a third detainee, George Timmons, were traveling to court wearing handcuffs, a waist chain, and leg irons. (Tr. at 252-53.) As a subsequent investigation revealed, TDF staff member Amber Wahler had previously provided Runge and Conley with both a handcuff key and mace spray, items they were able to keep in their possession despite a strip search prior to boarding the van. (Id. at 253-55; 258-59; Monthly Report, 11/1/2000, at 1.) Using the handcuff key and mace, Runge and Conley defeated their restraints, escaped from the van, and met with a former TDF staff member, Doris Harper, who provided them with a getaway car, another weapon, and a large sum of cash. (Id. at 255-56; Monthly Report, 11/1/2000, at 1.) The Naperville Police Department apprehended Runge and Conley "shortly thereafter." (Monthly Report, 11/1/2000, at 1.) There is no indication in the record as to whether any TDF staff members were injured during the escape.

V. Response to the Escape: The Black Box Policy

Before the escape, TDF residents being transported for court appearances were restrained by handcuffs, which were bolted to a waist chain, as well as leg irons. (Tr. at 252-53.) Davis found wearing these handcuffs uncomfortable; he had complained to Nurse Renee Vanderlin in June 2000 that these restraints caused him to suffer from swollen wrists and shoulder pain. (Progress Notes, 6/27/00, Defs.' Ex. 39, at 0604.) Vanderlin noted that Davis's wrists were indeed reddened, and prescribed Naproxen. (Id.)

Following the escape, Budz, as TDF facility director, was concerned that there might be additional handcuff keys in the possession of TDF detainees. (Tr. at 261.) In his view, TDF staff were incapable of making determinations regarding which detainees were escape risks; he noted that the staff had not viewed either Runge or Conley as an escape risk at the time they escaped.*fn3 (Id.) Budz had the facility searched for additional keys. (Id. at 257, 261-62.) None were located, but Budz still believed that other keys might be hidden within the TDF. (Id. at 262.) Accordingly, on October 10, 2000, Budz established a policy that all residents were to be restrained by use of a "black box" when being transported. (Tr. at 260; see Memo from Budz to Bukowski, Oct. 10, 2000, Defs.' Ex. 3.)

The black box is a rectangular device measuring approximately four inches by three inches. (Tr. at 129.) When placed over the chain of a pair of handcuffs, it both limits a prisoner's ability to move his hands, and prevents access to the handcuffs' keyholes. (Id. at 127, 260.) The following picture provides an illustration of the basic arrangement:, C&S Security Fifth Model Black Box Handcuff Cover, (last visited April 16, 2008).

While confined in this device, Davis's hands were restrained in front of his body in a fixed rotation and orientation, making it difficult to eat or use the bathroom. (Tr. at 129-131.) The handcuffs and black box were bolted to an O-ring on his waist chain; Davis also wore leg chains. (Tr. at 144.)

Davis testified that he had been required to wear the device for the entire duration of his tripsto court, which he said could last from 10.5 to16.5 hours in length.*fn4 (Tr. at 133.) Davis testified that, while wearing the black box, he found it impossible to eat the sack lunches provided for him, and he found it very difficult to use the restroom. (Id. at 131.) This difficulty lasted only for about four months, however; on February 13, 2001, Davis obtained an order from the Madison County Circuit Court requiring DHS to remove the black box and handcuffs whenever Davis was at the courthouse, in order to permit him to comfortably use the restroom. (Madison County Circuit Court Order, 2/13/01, Pl.'s Ex. 105.)

Davis did not specifically testify about the number of times he was transported to court between the implementation of the black box policy in October 2000 and the Madison County order in February 2001. He recalled that he traveled to court "every month" for a while, and then later reduced in frequency to "every other month," without explaining when this reduction in frequency occurred. (Tr. at 128.) The record includes a log noting the dates on which detainees were transported to court. (Writ Furlough Log, at 03168-03177, Pl.'s Ex. 99.) These records indicate that Davis traveled to court seven times over the four-month period from when the black box began to be used in October 2000 until he obtained a court order allowing him to take it off in the courthouse. (Id.; Madison County Circuit Court Order, 2/13/01, Pl.'s Ex. 105.) The court concludes that Davis was able to urinate and eat his lunch after obtaining this order, given his failure to testify otherwise. Accordingly, the court finds that the black box policy required Davis to endure seven periods of about twelve hours each during which he could not eat or comfortably use the bathroom, all occurring before February 13, 2001.

Although the February 2001 order relieved Davis while he was at court, he continued to wear the black box on his trips to and from court until January 2002. He testified that the combination of handcuffs and black box would chafe the skin on his wrists, that his wrists would sometimes swell, and that his shoulders and arms would ache from being in a fixed position for many hours. (Tr. at 134-35.) He claimed that the combination of his restraints during this period caused him to suffer from pinched nerves in his wrists, causing a persistent loss of feeling in his wrists and hands. (Tr. at 134.) He also claimed that the black box produced "knots" on both of his wrists; he described one of these knots as "a big gristle thing" that "stays ice cold" and lacks sensation. (Id.) He stated he suffered from muscle weakness and pain as a result of wearing the black box, causing him to have difficulty picking up objects such as a coffee cup. (Id.)

In his December 2001 grievance, Davis asserted that the use of the black box represented corporal punishment, because it caused "great pain in [his] wrists and hands," and reported that he had "a pinched nerve in [his] right wrist [and a] loss of feeling in [his] right thumb and finger." (Grievance, 12/6/01, at 1115; Pl.'s Ex. 96.) An unidentified grievance examiner reported that Nurse Carol Vance stated that Davis "has arthritis and his wrists can swell." (Tr. at 138; Grievance, 12/6/01, at 1119.) Other than this single, third-hand report, there is no other medical evidence confirming Davis's complaints of injuries caused by the black box.*fn5 Thus, the court finds that Davis suffered from chafed and swollen wrists, as well as sore arms and shoulders due to his arthritis, when he was made to wear the black box, but finds that he has failed to prove that he experienced persistent numbness, muscle weakness, or large knots as a result of wearing it. The court notes that the symptoms Davis suffered as a result of the black box were very similar to those he complained of when he was restrained only by handcuffs. (Progress Notes, 6/27/00, Defs.' Ex. 39, at 0604.)

Although the grievance examiner recommended denying Davis's grievance, Budz upheld it on January 7, 2002. (Grievance, 12/6/01, at 1119-20.) Budz ordered that his security staff transport Davis to court appearances without the use of the black box; Davis was to wear only the handcuffs, waist chain, and leg irons that had been standard practice before the escape. (Id. at 1120.) This relief was intended to be temporary; Budz also ordered that use of the black box be resumed once a physician confirmed that the swelling on Davis's wrists had decreased or stopped. (Id.) There is no evidence, however, that the TDF staff ever did reapply the black box to Davis after Budz sustained this grievance. Furthermore, Budz testified that if his staff had wished to reapply the black box to Davis, they would have had to clear it with him first, and that this never occurred. (Tr. at 716-17.)

The TDF's records regarding detainee transportation to and from court appearances show that Davis made the following trips to court during the time that the black box policy was applied to him:

* October 10-31, 2000: 1 trip.

* November 2000: 3 trips.

* December 2000: 2 trips.

* January 2001: 1 trip.

* February 2001: 2 trips.

* March 2001: 1 trip.

* April 1-10, 2001: 1 trip.

* April 11-30, 2001: 1 trip, lasting 8.5 hours.

* May 2001: 0 trips.

* June 2001: 0 trips.

* July 2001: 1 trip, lasting 11.25 hours.

* August 2001: 0 trips.

* September 2001: 0 trips.

* October 2001: 1 trip, lasting 11 hours.

* November 2001: 1 trip, lasting ...

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