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Prendota v. Walker

March 18, 2009


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


This cause is before the court for consideration of Defendant Jennifer Melvin's motion for summary judgment. [d/e 36].


The pro se plaintiffs, state prisoners, filed their complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §1983 claiming their constitutional rights were violated at Pontiac Correctional Center. The plaintiffs have named three defendants: Illinois Department of Corrections Director Roger Walker, Illinois Department of Corrections Regional Director Guy Pierce and Pontiac Correctional Center Warden Eddie Jones.

The plaintiffs allege that the defendants violated their Eighth Amendment rights when they did not provide the plaintiff's with adequate winter clothing from December of 2005 through the Spring of 2006. The plaintiffs say on several occasions they were forced to choose between yard time and being outside in extreme temperatures without proper clothing. They say they were forced to go outside to attend school or participate in visitation. The plaintiffs say they were told they could buy hats, gloves and other winter clothing in the commissary, but the plaintiffs say they are indigent and could not afford the needed clothing.

The defendants originally filed a motion for summary judgment on September 17, 2007. [d/e 30] and the plaintiffs filed a response. [d/e 33]. However, both parties had also filed motions to compel. Each side was ordered to provide additional information to the other. Therefore, the court struck the original dispositive motions and gave the parties additional time to file or renew their motions. See March 7, 2008 Court Order.

The defendants filed their renewed motion for summary judgment on April 17, 2008. [d/e 36] The plaintiffs were notified of the motion, but have filed no response. Since the plaintiffs are proceeding pro se and the defendants renewed their earlier motion, the court will also consider the plaintiffs initial response to the motion. [d/e 33].


Correctional Lieutenant Dennis Dahlbach says he has been with the Department of Corrections at Pontiac Correctional Center since 1985. Dahlback maintains that department policy requires that inmates receive clothing that is suitable for the season. (Def. Memo, Dahl. Depo, p. 1)

Department of Corrections records demonstrate that Plaintiff Prendota entered Pontiac Correctional Center on September 21, 2005 and Plaintiff Galen Denler arrived on November 2, 2005. Both were housed in South Protective Custody. Each plaintiff was issued the following clothing upon arrival: 3 pairs of pants, 3 shirts, 3 T-shirts, 3 briefs, 3 socks, 1 pair of shoes and 1 coat. (Def. Memo, Ex. 2, 3). Dahlback states that inmates may also purchase additional items such as ear warmers, thermal tops and bottoms, sweatpants, sweatshirts and gloves from the Commissary. (Def. Memo, Dahl. Depo, p. 1). The parties have provided documentation showing that ear warmers can be purchased for $1.62, gloves for $1.25, sweatshirts for $8.57 to $20.60, sweat pants for $8.56 to $27.04, Thermal shirts from $5.73 to $9.01 and thermal pants from $5.48 to $9.01. (Def. Memo, Ex. 1, Plain. Resp. Ex D).

Dahlbach states that prior to being escorted outside the cell house, each inmate and the clothing he intends to wear are search for contraband.

Offenders are not permitted to wear multiple layers of the same clothing items outside of their cells to ensure the safety and security of all offenders and staff. In the past, offenders have tried to conceal weapons, drugs, money, and other dangerous contraband within multiple layers of the same type of clothing. Offenders have also attempted to create defense apparel by placing cardboard or magazines in between multiple layers of the same clothing items. (Def. Memo, Dahl. Depo, p. 1).

Dahlbach says inmates that are in protective custody, such as the plaintiffs, receive 8 to 10 hours of recreation weekly in four sessions that last 2 1/2 hours each. Inmates are not required to go outdoors. Dahlbach says those that choose to stay inside have adequate space to do sit-ups, push-ups, stretches, calisthenics and they can also run in place. (Def. Memo, Dahl. Depo, p. 2).

Dahlbach says the visitation room at Pontiac Correctional Center is located in the Administrative Building. The distance between the South Cell House to this building is approximately two blocks. "On average, it takes approximately seven minutes to escort an offender from the South Protective Custody Unit to the Administrative Building." (Def. ...

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