United States District Court, S.D. Illinois
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
MICHAEL J. REAGAN, UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
matter is currently before the Court on Defendants'
Motion for Partial Summary Judgment (Doc. 43). Levail Givens,
an inmate incarcerated at Lawrence Correctional Center
(“Lawrence”), filed the present lawsuit, acting
pro se. Plaintiff Givens alleges that Defendants,
who are officials at Lawrence and with the Illinois
Department of Corrections, violated certain rights afforded
him by the United States Constitution and the Religious Land
Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (“RLUIPA”).
Specifically, he alleges he has been precluded from
practicing certain aspects of his Hebrew Israelite religion.
their Motion for Partial Summary Judgment Defendants assert
that, as to some of his claims, Plaintiff has failed to
exhaust his administrative remedies prior to filing suit as
required by the Prison Litigation Reform Act. Plaintiff has
filed a response, and this matter is ripe for disposition. As
discussed below, the Court finds that Plaintiff has exhausted
his administrative remedies as to his kosher diet claims, but
has not exhausted as to any Hebrew Israelite ceremonies
specifically referenced in his grievances. Defendants'
Motion for Partial Summary Judgment (Doc. 43) is therefore
GRANTED in part and DENIED in part.
Factual and Procedural Background
December 19, 2014, Plaintiff Givens filed an institutional
grievance at Lawrence, seeking the establishment of Hebrew
Israelite services within Lawrence (Doc. 60-1, p. 4).
Plaintiff sought the establishment of Hebrew Israelite
services, and not African Hebrew Israelite services, which he
asserted are different (Id. at 4 - 5). In the
grievance, Plaintiff detailed his attempts to obtain such
services, to no avail, and claimed discrimination on the part
of Defendant Chaplain Keim, and others, in not allowing for
Hebrew Israelite services (Id.).
December 19 grievance was received by Plaintiff's
counselor on December 30, 2014, and a response was issued the
same day (Id. at 4). Though no Grievance Office
response is in the record, the grievance appears to have been
given a number by the Lawrence Grievance Office (See
id.). There is no record of an appeal to the
Administrative Review Board (“ARB”) or ARB
on December 23, 2014, Plaintiff submitted two more
grievances. In the first grievance, Plaintiff again
complained that he was unable to establish Hebrew Israelite
services, and among the relief requested, he asked that
Hebrew Israelite services be provided once a week
(Id. at 6). Plaintiff also attached a documented
entitled “First Amendment Religious Proposal” to
this grievance (Id. at 7, 8). In the proposal, he
requested weekly Hebrew Israelite services on Saturdays
(Id. at 8).
second December 23 grievance, Plaintiff again complained of
the lack of Hebrew Israelite services, as well as, a specific
incident with Defendant Vaughn, and alleged that the refusal
to establish Hebrew Israelite services was in retaliation for
Plaintiff filing grievances (Id. at 9 - 10). As with
the December 19 grievance, there is no indication of an
appeal of, or ARB response to, the December 23 grievances.
fired off another grievance on January 30, 2015, this time
grieving not receiving a kosher diet (Doc. 44-2, p. 1). In
that grievance, among other things, Plaintiff indicated that
he was a member of the Hebrew Israelite faith, and that on
January 30, 2015 he had been taken off of a kosher diet that
he had been receiving for the previous four years
(Id. at 2). He further elaborated that his faith
requires him to “eat a kosher diet in compliance with
the Hebrews Towrah…. (Id.).” Among the
relief requested, Plaintiff asked that he “be placed
back on my diet, Kosher. (Id. at 1)”.
counselor received the grievance on February 3, 2015 and
issued a response on March 30, 2015 (Id.). The
counselor indicated that Plaintiff was no longer receiving a
kosher diet per the IDOC Chief Chaplain (Id.). The
Lawrence Grievance Office received the January 30 grievance
on April 9, 2015, and it was reviewed on June 16, 2015
(Id. at 4). The Grievance Office recommended that
the grievance be denied. (Id.). The warden concurred
on June 18, 2015, and Plaintiff appealed his grievance to the
ARB on July 7, 2015 (Id.). The January 30 grievance,
which was numbered by the Grievance Office as
“04-15-75”, was received by the ARB on July 14,
2015, and the ARB denied the appeal on February 8, 2016
(Id. at 3, 4).
15, 2015, Plaintiff filed a grievance seeking Sabbath day
services and ceremonies, a ceremony for the Memorial Blowing
of the Trumpets, and a Day of Atonement Ceremony (Doc. 44-3,
p. 4 - 5). Attached to the grievance was a document entitled
“Religious Service and Ceremonies at the Lawrence Corr.
Ctr. for the Hebrew Israelites' Congregation.
(Id. at 6). In this document, Plaintiff laid out in
specific detail his request for Sabbath services on
Saturdays, a Memorial Blowing of the Trumpets ceremony, and a
Day of Atonement ceremony associated with Yom Kippur
(Id. at 7 - 10). Plaintiff's counselor responded
to the grievance the next day, on July 16, 2015 (Id.
at 4). Plaintiff also filed a similar grievance on July 16,
2015, also seeking Sabbath services and the Day of Atonement
and Memorial Blowing of Trumpets ceremonies (Id. at
2 - 3). The counselor responded to that grievance on July 17,
2015 (Id. at 2).
Grievance Office responded to both July 2015 grievances on
September 23, 2015, recommending denial, and the warden
concurred on September 24, 2015 (Id. at 11).
Plaintiff appealed the July 2015 grievances to the ARB on