United States District Court, D. Connecticut
INITIAL REVIEW ORDER PURSUANT TO 28 U.S.C. §
Jeffrey Alker Meyer United States District Judge.
Brandon Scozzari is in the custody of the Connecticut
Department of Correction (“DOC”) and confined at
Corrigan-Radgowski Correctional Center in Uncasville,
Connecticut. He has filed a complaint pro se and
in forma pauperis under 42 U.S.C. § 1983
against several DOC officials in their individual and
official capacities, including Director of Security Antonio
Santiago; Security Risk Group Coordinator John Aldi; Warden
Stephen Faucher; Lieutenants Kelly, Paine, and Russell;
Disciplinary Investigator Acevedo; Officer Irizarry; and one
John Doe correctional officer. Doc. #1 at 1. Scozzari claims
that defendants violated his constitutional rights by placing
him in the DOC's security risk group program in violation
of the First, Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendments. Id.
at 24-26 (¶¶ 108-13). He seeks damages, as well as
declaratory and injunctive relief. Id. at 27
(¶¶ 114-22). For the reasons stated below, I will
dismiss Scozzari's complaint in part and reserve decision
on the preliminary injunction pending responses from certain
following facts are alleged in the complaint and are accepted
as true only for purposes of this ruling. In October of 2018,
Scozzari was confined in the S Unit at New Haven Correctional
Center (“NHCC”). Doc. #1 at 5 (¶ 1). In the
final week of that month, Lieutenants Paine and Russell, as
well as Officer Irizarry and Officer Doe, approached Scozzari
as he entered S Unit from the medical unit. Ibid.
(¶ 2). Paine told him, “[Y]ou'r[e] new to the
facility, since your family doesn't know that
you'r[e] here I'll let you go back to the block
(unit) [un]til Monday.” Ibid. (¶ 3).
Friday, Scozzari was brought to the Lieutenant's Office
where Paine asked him about allegedly being a gang member.
Id. at 5-6 (¶ 4). Scozzari was questioned by
Paine and others, who said he was a member of the Piru Bloods
gang. Id. at 6 (¶ 5). Scozzari told them he was
not a Piru Blood. Ibid. (¶ 6). Paine then
stated, “[I]f you[‘re] not a gang member, then
why did you put it on you [Facebook] page, ” and showed
Scozzari a Facebook page on a screen. Ibid. (¶
7). Scozzari told Paine he had no answer. Ibid.
(¶ 8). Paine then responded “then we're
designating you as a gang member.” Ibid.
(¶ 9). Scozzari told Paine “I'll be honest
with you I put it up there because a friend of mine that
passed away always put it on his page, so I put it up there
in memory of him.” Ibid. (¶ 10). When
Scozzari told Paine that he did not know the meaning of what
was written on the Facebook page, Paine said that he did not
believe him. Id. at 9 (¶¶ 11-13). Paine
then asked Scozzari if he wanted to make any statements.
Ibid. (¶ 15). Scozzari said “yes”
and started to write out “I am not a gang member”
with a pen and paper Paine had provided-but before he could
finish, Paine seized the paper from Scozzari, balled it up,
and threw it in the trash. Ibid. (¶¶
17-18). Paine told Scozzari he would return for him on
Monday. Ibid. (¶ 17). Before leaving the
office, Scozzari said that Paine had violated his rights, but
Paine responded that there was no violation because
“Facebook has an agreement with the [DOC].”
Ibid. (¶¶ 19-20). Scozzari then returned
to S Unit, and the following Monday, Paine came and took
Scozzari to the restrictive housing unit. Ibid.
Scozzari arrived at the restrictive housing unit, he did not
receive notice of the charges against him from Paine.
Id. at 10 (¶ 24). He also did not receive a
notice of charges from Investigator Acevedo. Ibid.
(¶ 25). Scozzari waited in restrictive housing from
October 31 to November 28, 2018. Ibid. (¶ 26).
There, he wrote to Security Risk Group (SRG) Coordinator Aldi
and Director of Security Santiago. Ibid. (¶
27). He has not yet received a response. Ibid.
claims never to have received a classification hearing prior
to being sent to Phase Three of the DOC's Security Risk
Group (SRG) program at Corrigan, which he alleges to be
“essentially administrative segregation.”
Id. at 10, 12 (¶¶ 26, 44). When he arrived
at Corrigan, he met five to six inmates who had been
designated because of their Facebook posts. Ibid.
(¶ 29). Scozzari accuses Lieutenants Paine and Russell
of “bamboozl[ing]” him and charging him with a
false offense for practicing his right to free speech.
Id. at 11 (¶ 32). While in the SRG program, he
“came to the presumption” that Santiago and Aldi,
who oversee the SRG program, were compelling their
subordinates to designate inmates based on their social media
pages in order to justify continued funding for the program.
Ibid. (¶ 34).
February 2019, Scozzari obtained his ticket history from his
counselor, and learned that there was no disciplinary report
for his Facebook post. Id. at 12 (¶ 41).
alleges that he is subject to a number of conditions in the
SRG program that he considers unfair and inhumane.
Id. at 15 (¶ 52). In the SRG program, he does
not receive good time credits, is allowed only three phone
calls per day rather than the ordinary six allowed to other
inmates, can only spend $40 in commissary while other inmates
can spend $75 in commissary, and is not receiving any
rehabilitative or educational programming. Id. at
15, 17 (¶¶ 53-56, 66-67). Commissary orders take an
extra week to arrive, id. at 17 (¶ 65), there
are no congregational religious services, ibid.
(¶ 68), and visitors are limited to immediate family,
ibid. (¶ 69).
alleges that inmates spend 22.5 hours per day in their cells
and only receive 90 minutes of recreation time. Id.
at 15 (¶ 58). The cells are unheated and have no hot
water. Id. at 18 (¶¶ 73, 77). When a fight
occurs, all inmates in the unit are kept on lockdown for 3-5
days, and are not allowed to receive a shower until the
fourth day. Id. at 16 (¶ 60). From January 24
to January 28, 2019, Scozzari was unable to shower-so that
when food was distributed on January 27, Scozzari vomited
from the odor in his cell after only a few bites.
Ibid. (¶¶ 61-62). Moreover, the January 26
cell cleanup was canceled due to the lockdown, so Scozzari
was unable to clean the soiled inside of his cell toilet.
Ibid. (¶ 63). Scozzari alleges that he is
always cold, shivering, and suffering from a runny nose.
Id. at 18 (¶ 74).
has spoken to unnamed officers and lieutenants about his
conditions of confinement. Id. at 16 (¶ 64).
They have ignored him. Ibid.
he is in the SRG program, when Scozzari goes to court he must
wear a white jumpsuit. Id. at 23 (¶ 101). This
shows the court, which has not yet sentenced him, that he is
a gang member. Ibid. (¶ 102-03). Had he
remained in the general population, Scozzari would have been
eligible for good time credit and possibly parole.
Ibid. (¶ 103). At the time of filing of his
complaint in this action, Scozzari was and remained a
to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A, the Court must review a
prisoner's civil complaint against a governmental entity
or governmental actors and “identify cognizable claims
or dismiss the complaint, or any portion of the complaint, if
the complaint-(1) is frivolous, malicious, or fails to state
a claim upon which relief may be granted; or (2) seeks
monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such
relief.” If the prisoner is proceeding pro se,
the allegations of the ...