United States District Court, S.D. Illinois
TONY W. HARDEN, Plaintiff,
ROB JEFFREYS, J.B. PRITZKER, DANIEL Q. SULLIVAN, and SARAH BROWN, Defendants.
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
J. ROSENSTENGEL, CHIEF U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE
Tony W. Harden, an inmate of the Illinois Department of
Corrections (“IDOC”) who is currently
incarcerated at Big Muddy River Correctional Center
(“Big Muddy”), brings this action for
deprivations of his constitutional rights pursuant to 42
U.S.C. § 1983. In the Complaint, Plaintiff alleges his
constitutional rights as a civil detainee under the Illinois
Sexually Dangerous Persons Act (“SDPA”), 725 ILCS
205/1.01 et seq., have been violated repeatedly by
the defendants. He asserts claims against the defendants
under the Fourteenth Amendment. Plaintiff sues the defendants
in their official capacities only and seeks declaratory and
case is now before the Court for preliminary review of the
Complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A. Under Section
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 a 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).
the Court must independently evaluate the substance of
Plaintiff's claims to determine if the correct statute -
in this case 42 U.S.C. § 1983 or 28 U.S.C. § 2254 -
is being invoked. A petition for a writ of habeas corpus is
the proper route “[i]f the prisoner is seeking what can
fairly be described as a quantum change in the level of
custody-whether outright freedom, or freedom subject to the
limited reporting and financial constraints of bond or parole
or probation.” Graham v. Broglin, 922 F.2d
379, 381 (7th Cir. 1991). If, however, the prisoner “is
seeking a different program or location or environment, then
he is challenging the conditions rather than the fact of
confinement and his remedy is under civil rights law.”
Id.; see also Pischke v. Litscher, 178 F.3d
497, 500 (7th Cir. 1999).
Plaintiff's claim alleges that he is being improperly
held and seeks immediate release. (Doc. 1, p. 17 and 49). To
the extent he challenges the fact of his confinement and
seeks immediate release, Plaintiff has a single federal
remedy-a petition for writ of habeas corpus. Section 1983
provides him with no avenue to this relief. He cannot pursue
his request for immediate release in this action. To the
extent that he seeks declaratory and injunctive relief for
the conditions and care that he is receiving under the SDPA,
the Court will review his claims pursuant to Section 1915A.
Complaint is long, rambling, and difficult to read. The Court
has done its best to summarize Plaintiff's claims in his
Complaint as follows: Plaintiff is a civilly committed
pretrial detainee at Big Muddy who has been incarcerated as a
sexually dangerous person under the SDPA since 1998. (Doc. 1,
p. 6). Plaintiff was ordered released from custody on
conditional release conditions on February 26, 2014, but
remained at Big Muddy for 37 months beyond his release date
because the IDOC Director would not provide him with the
necessary conditions needed for release including proper
housing, living expenses, and outside care. (Id. at
pp. 6, 19-20, 23, and 31). He was finally released when his
family and friends provided the necessary conditions.
(Id. at p. 20). On release he was treated like a
convicted offender and required to wear a GPS monitor and
obtain prior approval for movement outside the home.
(Id. at pp. 10 and 32). Due to the failure to
provide Plaintiff with adequate release conditions, he was
eventually revoked and returned to Big Muddy. (Id.
at pp. 7, 21, and 23).
his return to Big Muddy, Plaintiff has been subject to a
system which he describes as “punitive, inadequate,
ineffective, non-therapeutic, harmful, and
detrimental.” (Doc. 1, p. 40). Plaintiff alleges that
the defendants, in their official capacities, have put in
place policies and practices which are inadequate for the
treatment of Plaintiff, as a civilly committed SDP.
(Id. at p. 18). He asserts that he is treated like
an ordinary prisoner and is not provided with proper care.
he shares facilities and resources with general population
inmates and is subjected to the same strip searches,
lockdowns, shakedowns, disciplinary tickets, and harassment
from guards as the convicted inmates. (Doc. 1, p. 6, 9, 33).
He is locked in his cell from 8:00 a.m. to 9:30 p.m.
(Id. at p. 26). He is also required to purchase all
of his clothing and supplies from the commissary like other
convicted inmates. (Id. at pp. 27 and 38). He also
receives the same diet as inmates in general population.
(Id. at p. 51).
funding for the SDP program comes from the general funds for
Big Muddy, and the program receives “peanuts”
which limits the care that Plaintiff receives. (Id.
at p. 9 and 35). The program is unlicensed, lacks any exit
strategy, is severally understaffed, lacks any assistance
once released, and is designed to be punitive. (Id.
at pp. 19 and 26). There is no qualified oversight or liaison
to represent Plaintiff. (Id. at p. 36). Plaintiff
receives no individualized treatment, and his treatment is
not designed to hasten his release. (Id. at p. 24).
He receives only one hour per week of group therapy, and
because the groups are so large, he may have to wait 8 to 12
weeks to attend a group. (Id.). His current
therapist, Jessica Stover, is biased and bases her
evaluations of Plaintiff on personal opinions rather than
scientific criteria and an independent evaluation.
(Id. at p. 25). His assessments are not tailored to
SDPs and, thus, reflect deceptive scoring. (Id. at
p. 36). He does not have access to college, vocational, or
other rehabilitative services. (Id. at p. 26).
Although he suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder
(PTSD) and depression, he does not receive treatment for
those conditions, nor is he offered alcohol and drug
treatment. (Id. at p. 8 and 29-30). Despite
completing all of his required psychiatric treatments, he is
kept in custody and “recycled through treatment [he
has] already…received.” (Id. at pp. 22
now sues J.B. Pritzker (Governor of Illinois), Rob Jeffreys
(IDOC Director), Daniel Q. Sullivan (Warden of Big Muddy),
and Sarah Brown (SDP Program Administrator) in their official
capacities for violating his rights as an SDP.
on the allegations in the Complaint, the Court finds it
convenient to divide the pro se action into
the following three counts:
Count 1: Defendants violated Plaintiff's right to receive
treatment and rehabilitation for his mental illnesses and