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Childress v. Walker

United States Court of Appeals, Seventh Circuit

May 21, 2015

CRAIG A. CHILDRESS, Plaintiff-Appellant,
ROGER E. WALKER, JR., et al., Defendants-Appellees

Argued: February 20, 2015.

Page 434

Appeal from the United States District Court for the Southern District of Illinois. No. 3:12-cv-01230-JPG -- J. Phil Gilbert, Judge.

For Craig A. Childress, Plaintiff - Appellant: Scott Jared Fisher, Attorney, Eric Youngbin Choi, Attorney, Neal, Gerber & Eisenberg Llp, Chicago, IL.

For Attorney General of Illinois, Invitee: Stephen Soltanzadeh, Attorney, Office of The Attorney General, Criminal Appeals Division, Chicago, IL.

Before RIPPLE, KANNE, and TINDER, Circuit Judges.


Page 435

Ripple, Circuit Judge.

Craig Childress brought this action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against numerous administrators and individuals affiliated with the Big Muddy River Correctional Center (" BMRCC" ) in Ina, Illinois. He alleged that those individuals had violated his rights under the Eighth Amendment and the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. Specifically, he claimed that, upon completion of a prison-sponsored reentry program, the program instructor delivered a computer disk containing Mr. Childress's resume to the property officer, who in turn placed it in Mr. Childress's property box.

Page 436

Mr. Childress later was discharged on mandatory supervised release (" MSR" ); one of the terms of his release was that he could not possess any computer-related material. Following his release, a routine inspection of his living quarters revealed the envelope containing the computer disk, and his release was revoked.

After serving his extended sentence, Mr. Childress, acting pro se, filed this action. The district court, on initial review under the Prison Litigation Reform Act (" PLRA" ), 28 U.S.C. § 1915A, dismissed the suit. On reconsideration, the court determined that Mr. Childress was not a prisoner within the meaning of the PLRA but that his action nevertheless should be dismissed on in forma pauperis review pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii).

The district court's dismissal of Mr. Childress's complaint was premature. His complaint set forth sufficient facts to proceed against at least one of the defendants. Moreover, he should have been granted the opportunity to amend his complaint to cure any deficiencies in the remainder of his claims. Finally, the district court failed to consider adequately Mr. Childress's request to recruit counsel. For these reasons, we reverse the court's judgment and remand the case for further proceedings.




While Mr. Childress was serving a sentence at BMRCC for attempted aggravated sexual assault, he participated in a Lifestyle Redirection Program. The three-week program is intended to assist inmates with reentry into the community and with finding employment. Defendant Danalyn Wilson is the program instructor. It is the " policy, practice, and procedure" of the program to provide each participant with a hardcopy of the participant's resume and cover letter and to forward a computer disk with those materials to the BMRCC property room.[2] This practice is known to BMRCC administrative staff. Consistent with this practice, when Mr. Childress completed the program on August 10, 2010, a computer disk containing his cover letter and resume was sent to the property room to be placed with his other belongings.

Mr. Childress was released from custody on August 19, 2010. One of the conditions of his release was that he not " possess[] ... computer related items." [3] Upon his release, Mr. Childress was provided with his personal property, including an envelope that contained the computer disk from the Lifestyle Redirection Program. The sealed envelope did not bear any markings that indicated or suggested that it contained a computer disk.

Fifteen days later, on September 3, 2010, agents of the Illinois Department of Corrections (" IDOC" ) conducted an inspection of Mr. Childress's immediate living area. During that inspection, they discovered the still unopened envelope containing the computer disk from the

Page 437

Lifestyle Redirection Program. Mr. Childress was taken into custody for violating the conditions of his release. He initially was housed at the Statesville Correctional Center but, on November 16, 2010, was transferred back to BMRCC. When Mr. Childress arrived at BMRCC, he was greeted by the Assistant Warden of Programs, Ty Bates, who told Mr. Childress that there had been two other incidents in which inmates had been taken back into custody after follow-up inspections uncovered ...

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