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Ginger v. Illinois Department of Corrections

United States District Court, C.D. Illinois, Springfield Division

March 27, 2018

ROY C. GINGER, Plaintiff,
v.
ILLINOIS DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS; JOHN BALDWIN, Acting Director; CRAIG FOSTER, Warden, Graham Correctional Center, Defendants.

          MERIT REVIEW OPINION

          SUE E. MYERSCOUGH UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Plaintiff filed this case pro se from the Graham Correctional Center. The case is before the Court for a merit review pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A. This statute requires the Court to review a complaint filed by a prisoner to identify the cognizable claims and to dismiss part or all of the complaint if no claim is stated.

         In reviewing the Complaint, the Court accepts the factual allegations as true, liberally construing them in Plaintiff's favor. Turley v. Rednour, 729 F.3d 645, 649 (7th Cir. 2013). However, conclusory statements and labels are insufficient. Enough facts must be provided to "'state a claim for relief that is plausible on its face.'" Alexander v. U.S., 721 F.3d 418, 422 (7th Cir. 2013)(quoted cite omitted).

         On March 20, 2018, Plaintiff filed a Complaint (d/e 1) pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against the Illinois Department of Corrections (IDOC); John Baldwin, Acting Director; and Craig Foster, Warden, Graham Correctional Center. The Court construes the claims against Baldwin and Foster as being brought against them in their official capacity.

         The IDOC website shows that Plaintiff was sentenced to 54 months' imprisonment for aggravated child pornography to be followed with a term of mandatory supervised release of three years to life. According to the website, Plaintiff is still incarcerated, and his projected parole date is May 1, 2018. https://www2.illinois.gov/idoc/Offender/Pages/InmateSearch.aspx (last visited March 27, 2018).

         In his Complaint, Plaintiff alleges that, “once [his] discharge date came, ” he was contacted by persons working in the Field Services Office at the Graham Correctional Center. These officials asked for Plaintiff's release address, which he provided. Plaintiff was informed that his original site was denied, and he was asked to provide alternative options. Plaintiff provided alternative options, but those sites did not meet the statutory requirements and were summarily denied as unacceptable locations. Plaintiff asked the Clinical Services Office and the Field Services Office on numerous occasions for assistance in locating a suitable site for Plaintiff's release, but to no avail. Plaintiff alleges he is being held unconstitutionally after the completion of his sentence because he does not have a suitable parole site or the financial resources with which to obtain one. (Plaintiff uses the term “parole” but “parole” and “mandatory supervised release” are distinct, even though courts tend to use the terms interchangeably. See Crayton v. Duncan, No. 15-cv-399-NJR, 2015 WL 2207191, at *5 n.3 (S.D. Ill. May 8, 2015)). Plaintiff requests that he be immediately released from custody and/or receive immediate assistance to locate suitable placement or housing so that he can be released.

         To state a claim pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, Plaintiff must allege (1) the deprivation of a right secured by the Constitution or laws of the United States; and (2) the alleged deprivation was committed by a person acting under the color of state law. Rodriguez v. Plymouth Ambulance Serv., 577 F.3d 816, 822 (7th Cir. 2009). IDOC is not a proper Defendant because states and state agencies are not “persons” that can be sued under § 1983. Johnson v. Supreme Court of Ill., 165 F.3d 1140, 1141 (7th Cir. 1999) (noting that “states and their agencies are not ‘persons' subject to suit under 41 U.S.C. § 1983”); Glispie v. Ill. Dep't of Corrections, No. 12-2060, 2012 WL 6761522, at *1 (C.D. Ill. Oct. 24, 2012) (“No matter what relief Plaintiff seeks against Defendant IDOC, his claim against IDOC is barred because IDOC, as a state agency, is not a “person” that may be sued under § 1983.”) report and recommendation adopted by 2013 WL 42306 (C.D. Ill. Jan. 3, 2013). Therefore, IDOC is dismissed from this lawsuit with prejudice.

         In addition, Plaintiff cannot bring his request for immediate release in the context of a civil rights case under § 1983. Simpson v. Nickel, 450 F.3d 303, 307 (7th Cir. 2006). Instead, he must bring a petition for habeas corpus relief under § 2254. Id. (stating that “any challenge to the fact or duration of custody must proceed under § 2254 or an equivalent statute”); see also Crayton, 2015 WL 2207191, at *2.

         As for Plaintiff's request that he receive immediate assistance to locate a suitable placement or housing so that he can be released, such a claim falls within the bounds of a § 1983 action. Id. That is, Plaintiff's claim can be construed as a challenge to the state procedures used to deny him his release. See Murphy v. Madigan, No. 16 C 11471, 2017 WL 3581175, at *6 (N.D. Ill. Aug. 18, 2017) (finding that the plaintiffs' claim that IDOC officials are using unconstitutional rules when deciding whether a prisoner will be released on mandatory supervised release was properly brought under § 1983); Crayton, 2015 WL 2207181, at *2; see also Murdock v. Walker, No. 08 C 1142, 2014 WL 916992, *5 (N.D. Ill. Mar. 10, 2014) (finding that the plaintiffs' challenge was not to the fact or duration of confinement but to the procedures used to deny them release; that is, they “seek relief that will render invalid the state procedures used to deny parole eligibility . . . and parole suitability”).

         In Murphy v. Madigan, a class of indigent sex-offenders remained imprisoned indefinitely because they could not find approved housing. Murphy, 2017 WL 3581175, at *1. The court held that the plaintiffs' challenge to the constitutionality of the procedures the defendants applied to determine whether the plaintiffs would be released on mandatory supervised release stated a substantive due process claim, an Eighth Amendment claim, an equal protection claim, and a procedural due process claim.

         In light of Murphy, and liberally construing Plaintiff's complaint, the Court will order service on Defendants Baldwin and Foster but afford them the opportunity to file a motion to dismiss.

         IT IS THEREFORE ORDERED:

         1) Defendant IDOC is dismissed from this cause of action with prejudice.

         2) This case is now in the process of service on Defendants Baldwin and Foster. Plaintiff is advised to wait until counsel has appeared for Defendants before filing any motions, in order to give Defendants notice and an opportunity to respond to those motions. Motions filed before Defendants' counsel has filed an appearance will generally be denied as ...


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