United States District Court, S.D. Illinois
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
J. ROSENSTENGEL Chief U.S. District Judge.
Marcus Jenkins, an inmate of the Illinois Department of
Corrections (“IDOC”) who is currently
incarcerated at Pinckneyville Correctional Center, brings
this action for deprivations of his constitutional rights
pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. In the Complaint,
Plaintiff alleges that Illinois Public Act 10-1182 violates
the Constitution. He asserts claims against the defendants
(in their official capacities only) under the Fourteenth and
Eighth Amendments and seeks declaratory judgment 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).
makes the following allegations in his Complaint (Doc. 1):
Illinois Public Act 100-1182 was signed into law on April 1,
2019 (Doc. 1, p. 8). The Act established a new parole system
for youth offenders under the age of twenty-one (21)
(Id.). The Act does not apply retroactively
(Id.). Although youths sentenced after June 1, 2019,
will benefit from the Act's provisions, including more
parole opportunities, those individuals who were sentenced as
youths prior to the Act do not benefit from the new parole
opportunities. Plaintiff alleges that he is one such inmate
as he was sentenced at the age of 16 (Id. at p. 9).
He alleges that the new Act violates his equal protection
rights because it treats juveniles like himself, who were
sentenced prior to the Act, differently from those juveniles
sentenced after the Act without any rational justification
for the different treatment (Id. at pp. 9-10). He
also alleges that Act constitutes cruel and unusual
punishment (Id.). He sues all of the defendants in
their official capacities.
on the allegations in the Complaint, the Court finds it
convenient to divide the pro se action into
the following two counts:
Count 1: Public Act 100-1182 violates
Plaintiff's equal protection rights under the Fourteenth
Count 2: Public Act 100-1182 is
unconstitutional because it constitutes cruel and unusual
punishment under the Eighth Amendment.
parties and the Court will use these designations in all
future pleadings and orders, unless otherwise directed by a
judicial officer of this Court. Any other claim that
is mentioned in the Complaint but not
addressed in this Order should be considered dismissed
without prejudice as inadequately pled under the
Twombly pleading standard.
Court finds that, at least at this early stage of the case,
Plaintiff has stated viable claims in Counts 1 and 2.
Plaintiff alleges that the Act treats youth offenders
sentenced prior to the Act differently than those sentenced
after the Act without a rational basis for treating the two
categories of offenders differently. At this stage, that is
enough to state a claim. See Murdock v. Walker, No.
2014 WL 916992, at *13 (N.D. Ill. 2014) (an equal protection
claim is based on the principle that “under like
circumstances and conditions,' people must be treated
alike, unless there is a rational reason for treating them
differently”) (quoting LaBella Winnetka, Inc., v.
Vill. of Winnetka, 628 F.3d 937, 941 (7th Cir. 2010));
Srail v. Vill. of Lisle, Ill., 588 F.3d 940, 943
(7th Cir. 2009) (“In the absence of deprivation of a
fundamental right or the existence of a suspect class, the
proper standard of review is rational basis.”). He also
adequately alleges that the Act constitutes cruel and unusual
punishment. See Ingraham v. Weight, 430 U.S. 651,
667-68 (1997) (Eighth Amendment “limits the kinds of
punishment that can be imposed on those convicted of crimes;
second, it proscribes punishment grossly disproportionate to
the severity of the crime; and third, it imposes substantive
limits on what can be made criminal and punished as
such.”). Plaintiff alleges that, unlike new youth
offenders, he is not given a mid-sentence parole
consideration which means he will serve a longer prison term
(Doc. 1, p. 9-10).
Plaintiff only seeks declaratory and injunctive relief, the
Court finds that the proper defendant is J.B. Pritzker (in
his official capacity only). All other defendants are also
sued in their official capacities and, thus, the claims
against them are redundant. Wallace v. Baldwin, No.
18-cv-1513-NJR, 2019 WL 6036742 (S.D. Ill. Nov. 14, 2019).
the motion for counsel (Doc. 3), Plaintiff attaches letters
from several lawyers who declined to take his case. Given the
early stage of the litigation, however, it is difficult to
accurately evaluate the need for the assistance of counsel.
See Kadamovas v. Stevens, 706 F.3d 843, 845 (7th
Cir. 2013) (“[U]ntil the defendants respond to the
complaint, the plaintiff's need for assistance of counsel
... cannot be gauged.”). Further, counsel is not needed at
this time because the defendants have not yet been served and
a discovery schedule has not been entered. Thus,