United States District Court, S.D. Illinois
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
R. HERNDON, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Harden, a state prisoner, has filed the instant petition for
writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254.
Harden challenges his continued confinement as a sexually
dangerous person (“SDP”) at Big Muddy River
Correctional Center, and seeks immediate release. On February
26, 2014, the state trial court ordered his conditional
release. However, respondent (the Director of the Illinois
Department of Corrections) has failed to facilitate
Harden's discharge from custody.
April 1998, in Sangamon County Case Number 97-CF-1104, Harden
stipulated to being a SDP, in lieu of facing criminal
prosecution (Doc. 1, pp. 1-2). The trial judge ordered him to
be confined pursuant to the Sexually Dangerous Persons Act
(“SDPA”), 725 Illinois Compiled Statutes 205/0.01
et seq. During his confinement, Harden was to
receive treatment until such time as he was determined to no
longer be dangerous.
petition is now before the Court for review pursuant to Rule
4 of the Rules Governing § 2254 Cases in United States
District Courts. Rule 4 provides that upon preliminary
consideration by the district court judge, “[i]f it
plainly appears from the petition and any attached exhibits
that the petitioner is not entitled to relief in the district
court, the judge must dismiss the petition and direct the
clerk to notify the petitioner.” After carefully
reviewing the petition, the Court concludes that this action
is subject to dismissal.
instant petition raises the following grounds for relief: (1)
Harden has continued to be confined under the SDPA despite
the state court's February 26, 2014, order of conditional
release (Doc. 5-1, pp. 1-6); (2) The SDP Program is
unconstitutional as applied to Harden, and violates the
Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”) because
of its systemic failures; (3) Harden's indefinite
confinement since the state court ordered his release
violates his rights under the Eighth and Fourteenth
Amendments; (4) Harden's ongoing confinement and
treatment as if he were a convicted prisoner amounts to cruel
and unusual punishment in violation of the Eighth Amendment
(Doc. 1, pp. 3-4). Harden names John Baldwin, the Director of
the Illinois Department of Corrections (“IDOC”),
as the respondent, because Baldwin is his court-appointed
guardian under the SDPA. Harden notes that he has filed a
petition in state court for judicial review of his case, as
well as a mandamus action (Doc. 1, p. 4; Doc. 5-1, pp. 11-17;
Doc. 5-4, pp. 4-10). However, the petition does not include
further information on the status of those matters.
to filing the habeas action, Harden filed three motions with
this Court seeking to add exhibits to his pleading: a
“Motion Submitting Evidence” containing 91 pages
of exhibits (Doc. 5), a second motion to submit evidence,
including a motion for immediate release (Doc. 8), and a
third motion submitting evidence (Doc. 13), which included a
12-page report prepared for a civil rights case now pending
before this Court under Case No. 14-cv-844-SMY-RJD,
which Harden was one of the original plaintiffs. He also
filed a motion for declaratory and injunctive relief (Doc.
12), and another motion for immediate release from
confinement (Doc. 9).
Submitting Additional Evidence (Docs. 5, 8, & 13)
motion at Doc. 5, Harden expands on his argument that the SDP
Program is inadequate to effect his recovery and is out of
compliance with the SDPA, because there are no transitional
facilities or assistance to facilitate homeless and indigent
SDP's to re-enter society once they have been
conditionally released or discharged (Doc. 1, p. 3; Doc. 5,
p. 2). As a result, he must remain confined indefinitely.
This system violates his constitutional rights. His court
order for conditional release came after two experts found
him to no longer be dangerous (Doc. 5, p. 4). He claims that
the IDOC has made no efforts to obtain transitional housing
that would comply with Harden's conditions of release,
and his family does not have the means or the responsibility
to find such housing (although they are attempting to assist
him) (Doc. 5, p. 9).
the exhibits submitted along with the motion at Doc. 5 are a
pro se “Motion Requesting Court to Modify
Conditions of Release, ” filed in the Sangamon County
Circuit Court, Case No. 97-CF-1104, on June 18, 2015 (Doc.
5-2, pp. 1-4). The motion requests a ruling on the
constitutionality of Harden's continued confinement, a
review of the conditions of his release, and seeks his
release from custody. On July 9, 2015, Harden, this time by
counsel, filed another Motion to Modify Conditions of Release
(Doc. 5-2, pp. 5-7), requesting the court to order the IDOC
to show what efforts had been made to find an approved
residence for him. According to a letter from Harden's
counsel, the court then ordered the IDOC to provide updates
every 15 days regarding its efforts to find suitable housing
for him (Doc. 5-2, p. 12). He includes several
letters/reports submitted between January and April 2016,
documenting that the IDOC was waiting to see if his brother
would purchase a home where Harden could reside (Doc. 5-2,
pp. 13-17; Doc. 5-3, pp. 1-8).
exhibit consists of the aforementioned “Petition of
Mandamus” which was submitted to the Jefferson County
Circuit Court on or about June 23, 2016 (Doc. 5-4, pp. 4-10).
In it, Harden seeks an order requiring IDOC Director Baldwin
to provide him with transitional housing so that he could be
motion to submit evidence at Doc. 8 reiterates Harden's
claim that the SDP program cannot effect his recovery, and
presents three documents: a letter from the John Howard
Association offering the opinion that “the SDP program
is effectively a life sentence with the possibility of
parole, and its residents are effectively prisoners that were
imprisoned absent a criminal trial.” Also included is a
letter from Harden's counsel and a forwarded letter from
the IDOC advising that as of September 13, 2016, there was
still no change in the status of its efforts to find
acceptable housing for Harden.
motion at Doc. 13 again asserts that Harden's Eighth and
Fourteenth Amendment rights are being violated by his
continued confinement, where the SDP program does not comply
with the SDP Act, and fails to provide for him to be
discharged in compliance with the conditions of his release.
He presents the Court with a report prepared by Dean Cauley,
who was retained to evaluate the effectiveness of the SDP
program at Big Muddy River, in connection with the civil
rights action in this Court brought by Harden and several
other SDP detainees. Howe, et al., v. Holt, et al.,
Case No. 14-cv-844-SMY (S.D. Ill. filed July 25, 2014)
(Harden was allowed to voluntarily dismiss his claims in that
case without prejudice on July 1, 2015, in anticipation of
his release; see Doc. 73 in Howe). Mr.
Cauley opines that the SDP treatment program at Big Muddy:
[C]annot fulfill a goal to “treat and release after the
briefest time possible”. Instead, the inherent flaws in
the program result in treatment that is slow, repetitive, and
not catered to the mission of treating the men and returning
them to the community as quickly as possible. Also, the
program has not focused on creating a therapeutic milieu, but
instead is restrictive, limited, and adversarial.
(Doc. 13-1, p. 3 (Doc. 124-1, p. 15 in Case No.
for Release from Custody ...