United States District Court, C.D. Illinois
JERRY L. GATES, Plaintiff,
LYNNE SHELTON, et al., Defendants.
MERIT REVIEW - SECOND AMENDED COMPLIANT
BILLY McDADE, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
proceeding pro se, and detained at the Rushville
Treatment and Detention Center, was granted leave to file a
second amended complaint and to proceed in forma
pauperis (“IFP”) under 28 U.S.C. §1915
(a)(1). Section 1915 (a)(1) “is designed to ensure
indigent litigants meaningful access to the federal
courts.” Christophel v. Brandl, No. 08-755,
2008 WL 5429658, at *1 (E.D. Wis. Dec. 31, 2008) citing
Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 327 (1989). A
court must, however, dismiss cases proceeding in forma
pauperis "at any time" if the action is
frivolous, malicious, or fails to state a claim, even if part
of the filing fee has been paid. The Court has determined
that Plaintiff's allegations of poverty are true and now
reviews the complaint to determine whether it is frivolous,
fails to state a claim, or seeks monetary relief against a
defendant immune from suit. 28 U.S.C. §1915(e)(2).
reviewing the second amended 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).
is civilly detained in the Rushville Treatment and Detention
Center pursuant to the Illinois Sexually Violent Persons
Commitment Act, 725 ILCS 207/1, et seq.
Plaintiff's identified religion is New Orleans Voodoo
Hoodoo and he believes he is the only such adherent at
Rushville. Plaintiff has filed a muddled complaint against 12
Defendants in which he complains of being double-celled,
though it is not clear whether he asserts this only in
support of his First Amendment, Religious Land Use and
Institutionalized Person Act (RLUIPA), and state-law
Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress
(“IIED”) claims, or whether this is asserted as
an independent inhumane condition of confinement.
asserts that Rushville has a policy in response to space
limitations, under which residents must share rooms.
Plaintiff asserts that the cells at Rushville were originally
intended for a single occupant and are 12' x 7' x
12' in dimension, with a sink and toilet unit and a
four-drawer. He alleges that while cells are usually shared,
some exceptions are made in the case of residents who are
aggressive and who sexually act out. In addition, some
residents are single celled by request, and others by Court
September 6, 2016, Plaintiff submitted a Room Change Request,
requesting a single room as, if he were to share a room with
another, he would have to take down his altar several times a
day. Plaintiff does not indicate the size of his altar or
where it is located in the cell or explain why it could not
remain in place. On October 18, 2016, his request was denied
with the finding that removing and replacing the altar did
not warrant placement in a single cell. It was recommended
that Plaintiff seek a cellmate who was gone most of the day,
either in assigned tasks or group meetings.
January 19, 2017, Plaintiff submitted a request to the
Religious Committee, requesting a single cell in furtherance
of his religious practice, the particulars of the practice
not explained. The request was denied on February 2, 2017.
Plaintiff thereafter submitted a request to the Facility
Director, the Clinical Director, and the Secretary of the
Department of Human Services without result. Plaintiff also
filed an emergency grievance, asserting that his cellmate was
acting in an intimidating manner, not otherwise specified,
and that this was inhibiting his religious practice.
April 7, 2017, Plaintiff filed a housing request, asking that
his roommate be moved and replaced with someone who
understood his religious beliefs and practices. The request
went to the Housing Committee which approved it on April 12,
2017. On April 19, 2017, Plaintiff's new roommate moved
in. For unexplained reasons, this roommate was moved out
several months later.
pled that he enjoyed being by himself and things were going
well but, despite this, he was assigned another roommate.
Plaintiff indicates that he had negative issues with this
roommate which “almost came to a fight
situation.” Plaintiff filed an emergency grievance and
the allegedly troublesome roommate was removed. Plaintiff
indicates that the next roommate “was a good
one.” While Plaintiff claims his religious freedoms
were infringed, he pleads sparse facts in support. He
indicated that he would have to relocate his altar several
times a day. He also claims that, at Rushville, there are
limitations placed on his possessing books, oils and
“ritual things, ” not otherwise identified. He
alleges, generally, that Defendants have violated his
religious freedoms and “have failed to offer or help
Plaintiff with some sort of relief or resolve of any
kind.” Plaintiff wants his own cell and claims that he
knows of 48 cells which are not used, though confusingly
claiming that there are residents in some of them. He
alleges, further, that not all of these cells have
electricity or cable. Plaintiff requests declaratory and
injunctive relief. The requested injunctive relief is in the
form of an order preventing the largely unspecified actions
by Defendants, and an order placing him in a single cell,
with power and cable, which is to be near the area where he
participates in group treatment.
in custody have a First Amendment right to reasonable
opportunities to practice their religion, subject to the
legitimate penological concerns of the prison. Maddox v.
Love, 655 F.3d 709 (7th Cir. 2011); Ortiz v.
Downey, 561 F.3d 664, 669 (7th Cir. 2009). The Free
Exercise Clause of the First Amendment prohibits the
government from imposing a “substantial burden”
on a “central religious belief or practice.”
Isby-Israel v. Lemmon, No. 13-172, 2016 WL 3072177,
at *4 (S.D. Ind. June 1, 2016) (internal quotation omitted).
In addition, under RLUIPA, officials may not substantially
burden a detainee's religious exercise unless there is a
compelling government interest at stake. If such an interest
exists, prison officials must use the least restrictive means
of achieving it. 42 U.S.C. § 2000cc-1(a).
Plaintiff fails to identify either an inability to practice,
or a substantial burden on his religious exercise. “[A]
substantial burden on the free exercise of religion ... is
one that forces adherents of a religion to refrain from
religiously motivated conduct, inhibits or constrains conduct
or expression that manifests a central tenet of a
person's religious beliefs, or compels conduct or
expression that is contrary to those beliefs.”
Isby-Israel, 2016 WL 3072177, at *4 quoting
Koger v. Bryan, 523 F.3d 789, 798-99 (7th Cir.
does not provide specific information as to how his religious
freedoms have been infringed and falls woefully short of
pleading a First Amendment or RLUIPA claim. See Korte v.
Sebelius, 735 F.3d 654, 671 (7th Cir. 2013)
(governmental action burdens religious exercise if it
“bears direct, primary, and fundamental responsibility
for rendering a religious exercise…effectively
impracticable. ”) citing Civil Liberties for Urban
Believers v. City of Chicago, 342 F.3d 752, 761 (7th
Cir. 2003). Plaintiff's claim that he must move his altar
several times a day, and that there are restrictions as to
the number of religious articles he may possess, fail to
establish that he has effectively been prevented from
practicing his religion.
not clear whether Plaintiff asserts that the double-celling
is merely a factor which has inhibited his religious practice
or whether it is also asserted as an inhumane condition of
confinement. If it goes only to religious practice, the
allegation is insufficient to state a claim, as discussed. If
it is asserted as an independent condition of confinement
claim, it also fails. To prevail on such a claim, Plaintiff
as a detainee, must make an objective showing that the
conditions were sufficiently serious and a that Defendants
acted with deliberate indifference in response to the
conditions. Darnell v. Pineiro, 849 F.3d 17, 29 (2d
Cir. 2017). To violate the constitution, the conditions must
amount to extreme deprivation. Hudson v. McMillian,
503 U.S. 1, 9 (1992). Conditions which are “restrictive
and even harsh” do not ...