United States District Court, S.D. Illinois
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
M. YANDLE UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
Ronald Lee Medlin, currently incarcerated at Shawnee
Correctional Center (“Shawnee”), brings this
pro se civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C.
§ 1983. Plaintiff claims that his constitutional rights
have been violated because the prison where he is housed does
not offer the same amenities as other prisons of the same
classification within the Illinois Department of Corrections
(“IDOC”). The Complaint is now before the Court
for a preliminary review pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A.
§ 1915A, the Court is required to screen prisoner
Complaints to filter out non-meritorious claims. See
28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a). Any portion of the 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 must be
dismissed. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b).
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.
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 Arnett v. Webster, 658 F.3d
742, 751 (7th Cir. 2011); Rodriguez v. Plymouth Ambulance
Serv., 577 F.3d 816, 821 (7th Cir. 2009).
fully considering the allegations in Plaintiff's
Complaint, the Court concludes that this action is subject to
Plaintiff was sent to the Northern Receiving Center of the
Illinois Department of Corrections, his security
classification was determined to be “Medium.”
(Doc. 1, p. 5). He was then transferred to Shawnee. He has
not incurred any disciplinary tickets or incidents.
references a November 1, 2011, Consent Decree that was
incorporated into IDOC Administrative Directive 05.06.110.
(Doc. 1, pp. 5, 11-14). Facilities that were formerly
designated as “Level Two, Level Three, and Level
Four” were deemed to be “Medium” under the
classification system set forth in that directive. (Doc. 1,
p. 5). Plaintiff alleges that despite the discontinuation of
the former classifications, Shawnee is still being run as a
“Level Two ‘Punishment Prison.'”
Id. Plaintiff further alleges that consequently, he
is being arbitrarily “discriminated against and treated
differently” from other IDOC prisoners classified as
Medium, who are housed in Graham, Centralia, Danville, and
other “Medium” security prisons. Id.
contrasts the conditions at Shawnee primarily with those at
Graham and Centralia: He is locked in his cell most of the
day, while Graham/Centralia prisoners are out of their cells
all day except for chow lines. (Doc. 1, p. 5). Plaintiff does
not have a key to his cell, and gets only 2 hours of dayroom
per day. Prisoners at Graham and Centralia have a key to
enter and exit their cells “all day long, ” and
may use the dayroom at any time of the day, 7 days a week.
Id. Plaintiff is limited to 30-45 minutes of gym, 5
days a week, while Graham/Centralia prisoners have yard and
gym 3 times per day. Plaintiff may access the Shawnee
commissary only once or twice per month, and purchases are
capped at $150.00 per visit; there is no such restriction at
Graham, Centralia, or Danville, where prisoners may shop at
commissary once per week. Shawnee prisoners may use the
laundry twice a week, have telephone access for one hour
twice a day, and may get ice once a day for 20 minutes. In
contrast, Centralia and Graham have unlimited access to these
amenities at any time. Those prisons have a television in the
dayroom, but Shawnee does not.
on these differences, Plaintiff asserts that he is denied
equal treatment under an “illegal classification
system” that violates the Consent Decree and the
Administrative Directive 05.06.110. (Doc. 1, p.5). He claims
although he has not violated any rules, he has been subjected
to more harsh conditions of confinement than he would face if
he were in one of the other medium-security prisons. He
argues that this “punishment” has been imposed
without due process of law, because he was not afforded a
hearing before being placed at Shawnee. (Doc. 1, pp. 5-6).
Plaintiff also raises a “class of one” equal
seeks injunctive relief to “disband” the Level
system, apply equal treatment and policies to all prisoners
classified as medium-security in the IDOC system, and for
IDOC to adhere to the Moorhead Consent Decree. (Doc.
1, p. 7). He also requests compensatory and punitive damages.
Review Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A
on the allegations of the Complaint, the Court finds it
convenient to divide the pro se action into the
following counts. The parties and the Court will use these
designations in all future pleadings and orders, unless
otherwise directed by a judicial officer of this Court. The
designation of these counts does not constitute an opinion as
to their merit. Any other claim that is mentioned in the
Complaint but not addressed in this Order should be
considered dismissed without prejudice.
Count 1: Plaintiff's placement in
Shawnee has subjected him to unequal treatment in violation
of the Fourteenth Amendment's Equal Protection Clause,
because Shawnee does not have the same programs, policies, or
access to ...