United States District Court, D. Connecticut
WILLIAM I. GARFINKEL United States Magistrate Judge
Plaintiff Almighty Supreme Born Allah ("Allah") brings this civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 alleging that defendants violated his Fourteenth Amendment rights to substantive and procedural due process by confining him to Administrative Segregation as a pretrial detainee. Allah‘s constitutional claims arise out of the defendants‘ decision to return him to Administrative Segregation after he had been released from a prior term of incarceration while on that status. During the time giving rise to Plaintiff‘s allegations, defendant Jason Cahill was a Shift Commander at Northern Correctional Institution ("Northern"), defendant Brian Griggs was a Supervisor in the Offender Classification and Population Management Unit, and defendant Lynn Milling was the Director of Offender Classification and Population Management.
A bench trial was held on December 2 and 3, 2015. At trial, Plaintiff testified on his own behalf. Defendants Cahill, Griggs, and Milling also testified. The evidence adduced at trial is summarized below as necessary to explain the Court‘s findings and conclusions. For the reasons that follow, the Court enters judgment in favor of the plaintiff.
FINDINGS OF FACT
Each inmate under State of Connecticut Department of Correction ("DOC") custody must be placed in a facility appropriate for that inmate‘s security and treatment needs. This placement procedure is known as the classification process. In the classification process, inmates are assigned an overall risk score of one to five, with one being the lowest security level and five being the highest. Any inmate with an overall risk score of five will be assigned to Administrative Segregation. State of Connecticut Department of Correction Administrative Directive ("Administrative Directive") 9.2(8)(A) requires consideration of the following factors when assessing an inmate‘s risk: history of escape; severity and/or violence of current offense; history of violence; length of sentence; presence of pending charges, bond amount and/or detainers; discipline history; and security risk group membership.
In determining an inmate‘s placement, DOC officials also consider an inmate‘s health needs, education needs, community resource needs, and sex offender status. The goal of the classification process is to place inmates appropriately based upon the risk they present and their needs.
When an inmate who has been released from a prior term of incarceration re-enters DOC custody as a pretrial detainee, a classification assessment is made. When, however, a pretrial detainee was released from a prior term of incarceration with an overall risk score of five, that person will be automatically placed on Administrative Detention pending a hearing to decide whether placement in Administrative Segregation is appropriate. In such a scenario, the risk factors enumerated in Administrative Directive 9.2(8)(A) are not considered by DOC personnel in assignment placement.
The DOC has several placement categories for inmates. Among these are restrictive housing statuses. Punitive Segregation, Administrative Detention, and Administrative Segregation are three types of restrictive housing statuses. Inmates are assigned to a restrictive housing status typically because they have been determined to pose a threat to the safety and security of a general population facility. Inmates on restrictive housing status are not permitted access to the same programs and privileges afforded to inmates in the general population. Programs and privileges afforded to the general population include the following: attending general population recreation including outside yard, dayroom, gymnasium, and library; attending work assignment; attending school if under twenty-one years of age; attending social visits; attending collective religious services; attending addiction services programs; using the telephone; receiving commissary; showering; attending meals with the general population; and retaining a television and/or radio in one‘s cell. Further, an inmate in Administrative Segregation will not earn or receive statutory good time credit while on that status. Inmates on restrictive housing status may earn back access to limited privileges based upon satisfactory behavior.
Punitive Segregation is a component of the disciplinary process; it is a consequence for an infraction committed by an inmate which results in placement in a restrictive housing unit at any facility. Punitive Segregation typically lasts for a short, circumscribed period of time.
Administrative Detention is also a temporary restrictive housing status: an inmate is placed in Administrative Detention after being removed from the general population and is held there pending a hearing or disciplinary disposition determining whether continued restrictive status is appropriate.
Administrative Segregation, as opposed to a brief and/or temporary placement, is a three phase program. During the period at issue, the program was implemented at Northern, which is a maximum security prison. Administrative Segregation is designed to remove problematic inmates from the general population, usually based on an incident that occurred while the inmate was in the general population, for safety and security reasons. Its programming aims to provide coping and anger management skills so that inmates can return to the general population better adjusted to that setting. In Phase I, an inmate is typically alone in his cell for twenty-three hours per day. Phase I lasts for a minimum of four months. There are no programming components in this phase. Phases II and III, which each last for approximately three months, contain some programming where inmates address anger management and coping skills in a group setting. The program becomes less restrictive as inmates are offered more privileges and opportunities as they successfully progress through it. While an inmate is in Administrative Segregation, he is reviewed for progression through the program, which is contingent upon successful completion of the prior phase.
The DOC has delineated provisions and management standards for the restrictive housing statuses. These standards do not differentiate between pretrial detainees and post-conviction prisoners. An inmate in Punitive Segregation or Administrative Detention is required to be handcuffed behind the back before being removed from his cell, except when making a telephone call, at which time he is handcuffed in the front. The inmate must be escorted on a one staff, one inmate basis when out of his cell. Inmates on these two statuses are entitled to a minimum of three fifteen-minute showers per week. They may have work assignments, but are limited to cleaning and food service assignments in the housing unit. Meals are eaten inside their cell. Recreation is allowed for one hour per day, five days a week, in a controlled area. Counseling, chaplaincy, and health services will tour the unit at least once every seven days. Visits are generally not allowed. Inmates on these two statuses will be entitled to legal visits as needed and approved by a unit administrator. They may send and receive mail, but may only retain five letters in their cells. These inmates are limited to retaining two books or periodicals at a time. Legal materials are provided upon an inmate‘s request to address a legal issue that requires immediate attention. Telephone calls are not allowed unless approved by the Unit Administrator. Finally, an inmate in Punitive Segregation or Administrative Detention is not allowed a television or radio in his cell.
As for Administrative Segregation, an inmate in Phase I must be handcuffed behind the back and put in leg irons before being released from his cell. If the inmate will be making a phone call, he will be handcuffed in front and also put in leg irons. The inmate must be escorted on a one staff, one inmate basis when out of his cell. Inmates are entitled to three fifteen-minute showers per week. When the inmate is in Phase I of Administrative Segregation, he is taken to the shower area in handcuffs and in leg irons; upon arrival at the secure shower area, the handcuffs are removed and the inmate must shower with the leg irons on. Phase I inmates are not allowed to have work assignments. Meals are eaten inside their cells. Recreation is permitted one hour per day, five days per week. Handcuffs are required during recreation unless the inmate is in a secure individual recreation area. The secured recreation area at Northern is a space approximately 50 x 20 feet in size, divided into three enclosures. Each enclosure is a fenced area when an inmate can recreate without restraints. There is no sporting equipment in the recreation area. Inmates are permitted to exercise in their cells. Program opportunities are provided only in-cell during Phase I, and religious and counseling programs are available on a limited basis. Inmates are allowed one thirty-minute non-contact visit per week with an immediate family member. Extended family is not allowed to visit. Non-contact visits require a physical barrier to be placed between the inmate and his visitor. Legal visits are allowed as needed and approved. Inmates may send and receive mail, but may only retain five letters in their cells. Reading materials, including legal materials, may not exceed four cubic feet of total allowable property. One fifteen-minute telephone call is permitted per week, except for legal telephone calls as approved by a supervisor or counselor. An inmate is not allowed a television, but is permitted to have a radio in his cell.
Some of these restrictions are alleviated in Phase II of Administrative Segregation. For example, after the inmate has been in Phase II for thirty days, restraints are not required when the inmate is transported within the unit. Inmates may have a work assignment within the unit. For recreation, handcuffs in the front are required for the first thirty days, and no restraints are required thereafter. Program opportunities are provided out of cell after the first thirty days of Phase II, but inmates remain in restraints and in a secured area. In Phase II, inmates can retain more than five letters, but their total possessions may not exceed four cubic feet. Visits and telephone calls are increased to two per week.
Restrictions are lessened further in Phase III of Administrative Segregation. For example, restraints are not required for movement within the unit. Meals are eaten outside of the cell but within the housing unit. No restraints are required during recreation. Program opportunities are provided out of cell in a secured area, and inmates are not restrained. Telephone calls and visits are increased to three per week.
Defendant Griggs testified about the programming component of Administrative Segregation. In Phases II and III, inmates, in groups, complete several modules of a program called "Thinking for a Change, " which is designed to improve anger management and coping skills. The defendants testified that the program allows the inmate to gradually interact with other Administrative Segregation inmates as he progresses through the phases with the goal of returning to the general population. According to the defendants, the integrity of the program is maintained by inmates successfully completing all three phases.
Inmates progress through the Administrative Segregation phases contingent upon successful completion of specific program components. A panel of DOC officials reviews each inmate‘s progress and makes a recommendation as to whether an inmate should move on to the next phase. If an inmate refuses to progress after a recommendation is made, the inmate can be issued a disciplinary report for Violation of Program Provisions. If such a disciplinary report is issued, the inmate will be retained in Phase I. There is no differentiation between a pretrial detainee and a post-conviction prisoner with respect to the consequences of accepting or rejecting progression.
According to DOC policy, all inmates who were released from incarceration while on Administrative Segregation must be placed on Administrative Detention upon readmission pending review of continuance of Administrative Segregation status within fifteen days of readmission. If continuance of Administrative Segregation is recommended, a classification hearing must be held within thirty days. Inmates cannot be placed into Administrative Segregation without notice and a hearing. Written notice of the hearing and the reasons for the hearing must be provided to the inmate at least two business days prior to the hearing. The purpose of the hearing is to consider the classification assignment to Administrative Segregation by examining "evidence to support the classification, " including statements by the inmate and/or any witnesses. Administrative Directive 9.4(12).
In December 2009, Allah was incarcerated at Carl Robinson Correctional Institution ("Carl Robinson"), which is an open campus dormitory-style facility that is medium security. Allah was assigned to dormitory five of Carl Robinson.
On December 22, 2009, Allah was standing with approximately fifty other inmates in his dormitory around the control station awaiting their turn to visit the commissary to purchase items that are sold only during the holiday season. Another thirty inmates were in other parts of dormitory five. Prison officials decided to permit inmates in dormitory six to go to the commissary before the inmates in dormitory five. Allah asked the correctional officer in the control station if he could speak to a lieutenant about this. There were only two correctional officers in dormitory five at the time. One of the correctional officers perceived the request to talk to a lieutenant as an attempt to incite other inmates to unite and protest the delay in visiting the commissary. The correctional officer summoned additional staff to the dormitory. A lieutenant responded to the building with other prison staff and dogs. Because of a history of riots at Carl Robinson, prison officials considered any disturbance or demonstration involving several inmates to pose a serious threat to safety and security. Past incidents had resulted in severe harm to inmates and staff
After the December 22, 2009 incident, Allah received a disciplinary report for Impeding Order. He pled guilty to the charge. Prison officials held a hearing on January 19, 2010, to determine whether Allah should be sent to Administrative Segregation at Northern, and Allah was in fact assigned to Administrative Segregation on February 11, 2010 to complete the three-phase program. Allah was discharged from DOC custody on March 25, 2010. At that time, he had completed only three months of Phase I of Administrative Segregation.
Administrative Directive 9.4(17)(A), which was in effect at the time of Allah‘s discharge, provided that if an inmate was discharged from custody while in the Administrative Segregation Program, upon readmission to the Department of Correction, he would be placed on Administrative Detention pending a ...