United States District Court, D. Connecticut
INITIAL REVIEW ORDER
A. Dooley, United States District Judge.
James Pena (“Pena”), currently confined at
MacDougall-Walker Correctional Institution in Suffield,
Connecticut, filed this complaint pro se under 42
U.S.C. § 1983. Pena asserts claims for punishment as a
pretrial detainee in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment,
an unnecessary lack of privacy in violation of the Fourth
Amendment, and denial of adequate access to the courts in
violation of the Sixth Amendment. Pena names four defendants:
Scott Semple, John Aldi, A. Santiago, and Miaga. Pena
seeks damages and injunctive relief. The complaint was
received on February 22, 2019, and Pena's motion to
proceed in forma pauperis was granted on February
section 1915A of title 28 of the United States Code, the
Court must review prisoner civil complaints and dismiss any
portion of the complaint that is frivolous or malicious, that
fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or
that seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune
from such relief. Id. In reviewing a pro se
complaint, the Court must assume the truth of the
allegations, and interpret them liberally to “raise the
strongest arguments [they] suggest.” Abbas v.
Dixon, 480 F.3d 636, 639 (2d Cir. 2007). see also
Tracy v. Freshwater, 623 F.3d 90, 101-02 (2d Cir. 2010)
(discussing special rules of solicitude for pro se
litigants). Although detailed allegations are not required,
the complaint must include sufficient facts to afford the
defendants fair notice of the claims and the grounds upon
which they are based and to demonstrate a right to relief.
Bell Atlantic v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555-56
(2007). Conclusory allegations are not sufficient.
Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). The
plaintiff must plead “enough facts to state a claim to
relief that is plausible on its face.”
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570.
times relevant to this action, Pena was a pretrial detainee.
In late 2013, while Pena was previously incarcerated, he was
re-designated as a member of the Security Risk Group
(“SRG”) Blood based on a composition book
containing fictitious rap songs using street slang.
Correctional officials determined that the street slang
constituted “gang moniker or gang languages.”
Doc. No. 1, ¶ 17. Pena disputes the validity of the
re-designation because the word “language” was
not added to the definition of the offense of SRG Affiliation
until 2018. Pena served the remainder of his sentence in the
SRG Program. He was discharged from custody on January 28,
October 2017, Pena was arrested and sent to New Haven
Correctional Center. He was immediately separated from
general population inmates and assigned to a restrictive
housing unit. Pena was handcuffed when he left his cell,
strip searched, denied telephone access, forced to eat in his
cell, limited to three showers per week and two changes of
clothes, and denied visits.
was designated a Blood and transferred to an SRG block at
Corrigan Correctional Institution (“Corrigan”)
because he had not completed the SRG Program before his
release in 2015. He was not given a hearing before his
re-designation and transfer.
Corrigan, Blood members tried to extort payment from Pena and
told him he could not live among them when he refused to pay.
Pena told the defendants that his life was in danger because
he was no longer an SRG member and requested placement in
protective custody. Pena was placed in restrictive housing
after he was assaulted by a Blood member for refusing to pay
the extortion money.
received a disciplinary report. He again asked to be
transferred to protective custody. Instead, “without
disposition, ” he was sent to the SRG Program in the
Walker building at MacDougall-Walker Correctional
Institution. Doc. No. 1, ¶ 30. In the SRG Program, Pena
is permitted only three phone calls per week. This limits his
ability to obtain witnesses in his favor, prepare his defense
with his attorney, prepare for sentencing, and post bond.
Pena is subject to forfeiture of Risk Reduction Earned Credit
and is ineligible for community release. Only immediate
family members are permitted to visit him. Pena is housed
with convicted inmates. He is permitted only three showers
per week, is strip searched every time he leaves his cell,
and denied access to a law library.
submitted a grievance complaining that he had inadequate
access to his attorney because of the restrictions on
personal phone calls and the limitation on legal calls and an
unnecessary lack of privacy because of the excessive body
cavity searches. He received no response. On January 2, 2019,
Pena submitted an inmate request to the four defendants
describing his conditions of confinement and claiming that
his SRG placement as a pretrial detainee was
unconstitutional. No. defendant responded. Pena submitted an
inmate request to defendant Miaga seeking a transfer.
Defendant Miaga did not respond.
Aldi told Pena that he was going to designate Black P Stone
members as Bloods and did not care whether Black P Stone was
on the SRG list or Watch Group list or whether it was a
subgroup of the Bloods. Although he does not state that he is
a member of Black ...