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McKinley v. Atchinson

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

December 5, 2016

BENARD McKINLEY, # R-30033, Plaintiff,


          MICHAEL J. REAGAN Chief Judge.

         Now before the Court for consideration is the First Amended Complaint (“amended complaint”) (Doc. 19) filed pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 by Plaintiff Benard McKinley, an inmate who is currently incarcerated at Stateville Correctional Center (“Stateville”). In the amended complaint, Plaintiff alleges that fifteen officials[1] at Menard Correctional Center (“Menard”) were responsible for the decision to hold him in administrative detention for 1, 096[2] days or more from 2012-15 (Doc. 19, pp. 9-30). Plaintiff maintains that his prolonged placement in administrative detention gives rise to claims against the defendants under the First, Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendments (id. at 9). In connection with these claims, he seeks declaratory judgment, monetary damages, and expungement of his administrative detention records (id. at 31).

         Merits Review Under 28 U.S.C. § 1915A

         This matter is before the Court for preliminary review of the amended complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A. Under Section 1915A, the Court is required to promptly screen prisoner complaints, including amended complaints, to filter out nonmeritorious claims. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a). The Court must dismiss any portion of the amended complaint that is legally frivolous, malicious, fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or asks for money damages from a defendant who by law is immune from such relief. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b). The amended complaint survives preliminary review under this standard.

         First Amended Complaint

         According to the allegations in the amended complaint, Plaintiff was incarcerated at Menard from 2004-16 (Doc. 9, p. 11). The events giving rise to this action occurred from 2012-15, when Plaintiff was held in administrative detention continuously for nearly 1, 100 days (id. at 9-30). He claims that all fifteen defendants were directly involved in the three constitutional violations described in his amended complaint (id.).

         On July 18, 2012, Plaintiff was called to Menard's internal affairs office for an interview in an ongoing investigation (id. at 18). When several unidentified internal affairs officers asked him to answer questions in connection with the investigation, Plaintiff could not do so. He simply did not know the answers to their questions. When he explained this to the officers, they sent him back to his cell.

         A week later on July 25, 2012, Plaintiff was taken from his job assignment and placed in “investigation confinement segregation” (id.). On August 2, 2012, he was interviewed a second time by the internal affairs officers. When Plaintiff again explained that he lacked the knowledge necessary to answer their questions, the officers told him that they could “be his best friend or wors[t] nightmare” (id.). Plaintiff lost his job on August 6, 2012.

         Beginning on August 24, 2012, Plaintiff returned to “investigation confinement segregation” for approximately one month (id.). He was interviewed a third time on October 16, 2012. Once again, he could not answer the questions posed by the internal affairs officers.

         Warden Atchinson made the decision to place Plaintiff in administrative detention on October 25, 2012. Joshua Schoenbeck carried out the order by placing him in the North Two Segregation Unit, where Plaintiff remained until October 27, 2015. During this time, Plaintiff progressed from Phase I through Phase III of the program and, in doing so, slowly regained some privileges (id.).

         Plaintiff repeatedly accused Warden Atchinson of retaliating against him by placing him in administrative detention. The warden admitted that he was responsible for the placement decision (id. at 19). Plaintiff had no way to challenge it. He filed grievances, but they were denied. Placement decisions were deemed to be administrative in nature and subject to the discretion of Wardens Atchinson, Butler, and Harrington. Until July 2014, Plaintiff received no hearing to address his continued placement in administrative detention (id.).

         On approximately ten separate occasions between October 2012 and October 2015, the wardens decided that Plaintiff's continued confinement in administrative detention was appropriate. At four hearings that took place between July 2014 and October 2015, the other twelve defendants, who were each members of Menard's Administrative Detention Review Committee (“ADRC”), affirmed these decisions (id. at 20-21). At the ADRC hearings, Plaintiff accused the ADRC members of retaliating against him because he was unable to serve as an informant. The defendants responded by telling Plaintiff that his continued placement in administrative detention was clearly warranted (id.).

         Plaintiff describes each of the ADRC hearings as a “sham” (id. at 12, 16). He was given no notice regarding the hearings or the “potential charges against him” (id.). The defendants withheld the reasons for his placement in administrative detention at each hearing. Plaintiff's placement term was repeatedly extended for reasons unknown to him.

         Plaintiff remained in administrative detention for at least 1, 096 days. He characterizes his time spent there as “three years in extreme isolation” (id. at 15, 26). He was allegedly treated the “same” as ...

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