United States District Court, S.D. Illinois
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
M. YANDLE U.S. District Judge
James Courtney, previously incarcerated at Menard
Correctional Center (“Menard”), has brought this
pro se civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C.
§ 1983. Plaintiff claims that the defendants violated
his state and federal constitutional rights of due process,
equal protection and freedom from cruel and unusual
punishment by incarcerating him beyond the date he was
eligible for mandatory supervised release
(“MSR”). Plaintiff is no longer incarcerated.
Therefore, this Court will conduct a preliminary review of
the Complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B),
any filing fee, or any portion thereof, that may have been
paid, the court shall dismiss the case at any time if the
court determines that . . . the action or appeal -
i. is frivolous or malicious;
ii. fails to state a claim on which relief may be granted; or
iii. seeks monetary relief against a defendant who is immune
from such relief.
action or claim is frivolous if “it lacks an arguable
basis either in law or in fact.” Neitzke v.
Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 325 (1989). Frivolousness is an
objective standard that refers to a claim that “no
reasonable person could suppose to have any merit.”
Lee v. Clinton, 209 F.3d 1025, 1026-27 (7th Cir.
2000). An action fails to state a claim upon which relief can
be granted if it does not plead “enough facts to state
a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.”
Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570
(2007). The claim of entitlement to relief must cross
“the line between possibility and plausibility.”
Id. at 557. Conversely, a complaint is plausible on
its face “when the plaintiff pleads factual content
that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that
the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.”
Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009).
the Court is obligated to accept factual allegations as true,
see Smith v. Peters, 631 F.3d 418, 419 (7th Cir.
2011), some factual allegations may be so sketchy or
implausible that they fail to provide sufficient notice of a
plaintiff's claim. Brooks v. Ross, 578 F.3d 574,
581 (7th Cir. 2009). Additionally, Courts “should not
accept as adequate abstract recitations of the elements of a
cause of action or conclusory legal statements.”
Id. At the same time, however, the factual
allegations of a pro se complaint are to be
liberally construed. See Rodriguez v. Plymouth Ambulance
Serv., 577 F.3d 816, 821 (7th Cir. 2009).
Complaint (Doc. 1), Plaintiff alleges that 6 months prior to
his projected release date, he submitted a request to Field
Services seeking approval of the residence of Faye Milburn or
placement in a halfway house at a specified address in East
St. Louis upon his release. (Doc. 1, p. 7). Plaintiff alleges
that, despite these requests, on October 7, 2013, he was told
that he was “violated” and he would not be
allowed to leave on MSR. Id. Plaintiff claims he
immediately wrote to Defendants Godinez, Harrington and
Butler complaining of his illegal incarceration and demanding
he be released on MSR. Id. Plaintiff also claims
that he found out later that other prisoners, who became
eligible for MSR after Plaintiff, were sent to halfway houses
before Plaintiff. He wrote Godinez, Harrington and Butler to
complain about this practice as well. Id. Plaintiff
allegedly received no response to his complaints.
alleges that he was discriminated against by each of the
defendants due to “what [he is] labeled.”
Id. To support this contention, Plaintiff indicates
that the Illinois Department of Corrections
(“IDOC”) and its employees could have sent him to
another halfway house or Ms. Milburn's house, but they
chose not to do so. Id. He contends that the
aforementioned facts constitute a violation of the Fifth
Amendment Due Process Clause,  the Eighth Amendment prohibition
against cruel and unusual punishment and the Fourteenth
Amendment Equal Protection Clause of the United States
Constitution. (Doc. 1, p. 8). Plaintiff also claims that his
rights under the Illinois Constitution and the Universal
Declaration of Human Rights have been violated. (Doc. 1, pp.
8-9). He seeks monetary damages. (Doc. 1, p. 10).
order for Plaintiff to proceed with his case, his Complaint
must suggest that one or more of the defendants violated his
constitutional rights. The Complaint fails to meet this
threshold. Three possible constitutional claims are suggested
by Plaintiff's allegations in light of the relevant case
Count 1 - Defendants subjected Plaintiff to
cruel and unusual punishment contrary to the Eighth Amendment
by failing to release him on his expected MSR date;
Count 2 - Defendants deprived Plaintiff of a
liberty interest without due process, in violation of the
Fourteenth Amendment, when they failed to release him on his
expected MSR date; and
Count 3 - Defendants violated
Plaintiff's Fourteenth Amendment Equal Protection rights
by releasing prisoners with later MSR eligibility dates to
halfway houses before releasing Plaintiff.
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