United States District Court, D. Connecticut
INITIAL REVIEW ORDER
MICHAEL P. SHEA UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Corey Doyle, incarcerated at the Corrigan-Radgowski
Correctional Center in Uncasville, Connecticut, filed this
case under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. The plaintiff names four
defendants, Director of Security Antonio Santiago, Lieutenant
Alexander, Hearing Officer Tracy King, and Warden Corsella.
He contends that the defendants denied him due process by
classifying him to the Security Risk Group
(“SRG”) Program and continuing him on that status
for tattoos that were on his body when he previously was
classified to and completed the SRG Program. The plaintiff
seeks damages and an order that defendant Santiago return him
to general population.
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. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A. This requirement
applies to all prisoner filings regardless whether the
prisoner pays the filing fee. Nicholson v.
Lenczewski, 356 F.Supp.2d 157, 159 (D. Conn. 2005)
(citing Carr v. Dvorin, 171 F.3d 115 (2d Cir. 1999)
(per curiam)). Here, the plaintiff is proceeding in forma
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 plausible 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. “A claim has facial plausibility when a plaintiff
pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the
reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the
misconduct alleged.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678
(internal quotation marks and citation omitted).
courts must interpret a pro se complaint liberally, the
complaint will be dismissed unless it includes sufficient
factual allegations to meet the standard of facial
plausibility.” See Harris v. Mills, 572 F.3d
66, 72 (2d Cir. 2009) (citations omitted).
February 15, 2018, the plaintiff was housed at Carl Robinson
Correctional Institution as a level 2 prisoner. ECF No. 11.
¶ 1. He received a Class A disciplinary report for
self-mutilation and was sent to the restrictive housing unit
(“RHU”). Id. ¶ 2. Lieutenant
Alexander told the plaintiff that he would be sent to the SRG
Program for his tattoos. Id. ¶ 3. The plaintiff
stated that he received the tattoos when he previously was in
the SRG Program and complained that Lieutenant
Alexander's actions were not fair. Id. ¶ 4.
Lieutenant Alexander merely said, “life isn't fair,
you will remain in RHU.” Id. ¶ 5.
February 22, 2018, the plaintiff attended an SRG hearing
before Hearing Officer King. Id. ¶ 6. The
plaintiff stated that the disciplinary report was for
self-mutilation; he did not receive written notice of any
charges for SRG affiliation. Id. ¶ 7. The
plaintiff pleaded guilty. Id. ¶ 15. Officer
King did not permit the plaintiff to express his views about
admission to the SRG Program. Id. ¶ 16.
February 29, 2018, the plaintiff was admitted to Phase 2 of
the SRG Program. Id. ¶ 17. As he previously
completed the SRG Program on August 14, 2015, the plaintiff
must remain in the Program for two years before he can be
returned to general population. Id. ¶ 18.
Phase 2 of the Program at Walker Correctional Institution,
the plaintiff was subjected to the following conditions.
Id. ¶ 21. He was not eligible to earn good-time
credit or for parole, transitional supervision, or other
re-entry programs. Id. ¶ 22. He was not
permitted to have the television, CD player, and hot pot that
he purchased from the commissary. Id. ¶ 23.
There was no hot water to prepare food he purchased from the
commissary. Id. ¶ 24. He was only permitted to
spend $35.00 per week in the commissary while inmates in
general population could spend $75.00 per week and $150.00
during the holidays. Id. ¶ 25. He spent 23
hours per day in his cell with one hour of recreation on
weekdays, and all day in his cell on weekends. Id.
¶ 26. There was no indoor recreation, so inmates had to
go outside in inclement weather or forfeit the recreation
period. Id. ¶ 27. He could receive visits only
from immediate family. Id. ¶ 28. He could
shower only 3 times per week. Id. ¶ 29. Unlike
inmates in general population, the plaintiff had no access to
religious or educational programs. Id. ¶ 30. He
was permitted only 3 phone calls per week. Id.
¶ 31. There were no rehabilitative programs.
Id. ¶ 32. Inmates in Phase 2 had no access to
books. Id. ¶ 33. Medical and mental health
staff were insufficient to meet the needs of all the inmates.
Id. ¶¶ 36-38. The plaintiff did not have
access to a brush to clean the toilet in the cell.
Id. ¶ 39.
plaintiff is subjected to the following conditions in Phase 3
of the Program at Corrigan Correctional Center. Id.
¶ 42. He continues to be ineligible for good time
credit, parole, halfway house placement, and transitional
supervision. Id. ¶ 43. “Social contact
between doors” is prohibited. Id. ¶ 44.
There is no hot water in the cell to prepare food.
Id. ¶ 45. The plaintiff can spend $40.00 per
week in the commissary. Id. ¶ 46. He is
permitted only 3 phone calls per day. Id. ¶ 47.
He still can receive visits only from immediate family.
Id. ¶ 48. He can now have a television and CD
player but no hot pot. Id. ¶ 49. He is
permitted one day of vigorous exercise in the gym.
Id. ¶ 50. There are no programs or congregate
religious services in Phase 3. Id. ¶¶
51-52, 54. Inmates have no access to books. Id.
¶ 53. The plaintiff still has no access to a toilet
brush. Id. ¶ 55. When there is a fight in the
unit, the entire unit is locked down for a week and all
inmates are punished by denying them commissary and showers.
Id. ¶ 56. This does not happen after a fight in
general population. Id. ¶ 57. Medical and
mental health treatment is inadequate in Phase 3.
Id. ¶ 61. Phase 3 inmates go to the medical
unit for sick call only on certain days. Id. ¶
62. So many inmates request medical attention that the
plaintiff does not get to go. Id. As in Phase 2,
there is only one mental health worker for about 100 inmates.
Id. ¶ 63. Cells of inmates in Phase 3 are
searched more frequently than cells of prisoners in any other
correctional facility. Id. ¶ 64. As a result of
participation in the Program, the plaintiff suffers from
paranoia, PTSD, depression, and anger issues. Id.
plaintiff asserts the following claims for violation of his
rights to substantive and procedural due process under the
Fifth and Fourteenth Amendment, and Article first, sections 8
and 9 of the Connecticut Constitution: (1) Lieutenant
Alexander issued a disciplinary report for self-mutilation,
placed him in RHU for the tattoos, and conspired to place him
in the SRG Program; (2) Officer King conducted a hearing on
charges of self-mutilation and SRG affiliation without notice
of the SRG affiliation charge and threatened him with maximum
sanctions if he did not plead guilty; (3) Director Santiago
did not conduct meaningful periodic reviews of the
plaintiff's SRG designation; and (4) Warden Corsella
cannot articulate a valid reason for imposing such harsh
penalties. Plaintiff also challenges the constitutionality of
the directive requiring him to serve two years in the SRG
Program before he can be considered for return to general
of Correction records show that the plaintiff was sentenced
on May 1, 2014.
(last visited September 30, 2019). Thus, he was a sentenced
prisoner at all time relevant to this action.
Fifth Amendment Claims
plaintiff asserts federal due process claims under both the
Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments. However, the defendants all
are state actors. The Due Process Clause of the Fifth
Amendment protects only against actions by federal government
actors. See Dusenbery v. United States, 534 U.S.
161, 167 (2002) (Fifth Amendment's Due Process Clause
only protects citizens against conduct of federal government
officials, not state officials); see also Pena v.
Aldi, No. 3:19-cv-124(KAD), 2019 WL 2193465, at *5 (D.
Conn. May 21, 2019) (same). Thus, the plaintiff's due
process claims are cognizable only under the Due Process
Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. Any Fifth Amendment due
process claims are dismissed pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §
Procedural Due Process
plaintiff contends that his placement in the SRG Program
violated his right to procedural due process. In
Wilkinson v. Austin, 545 U.S. 209 (2005), the
Supreme Court considered the process due inmates in
connection with their classification and transfer to
Ohio's highest security prison. Before any particular
process is required, an inmate must demonstrate that he has a
protected liberty interest in avoiding the classification at
issue. Id. at 221 (before invoking procedural
protections of the Due Process Clause, inmate must establish
deprivation of an interest in life, liberty, or property).
The United States Constitution does not create a liberty
interest in avoiding transfer to more adverse conditions of
confinement. Id. (citing Meachum v. Fano,
427 U.S. 215, 225 (1976)).
liberty interest may arise under state regulations, but only
if the restraint imposed “while not exceeding the
sentence in such an unexpected manner as to give rise to
protection by the Due Process Clause of its own force,
nonetheless imposes atypical and significant hardship on the
inmate in relation to the ordinary incidents of prison
life.” Id., at 222-23 (quoting Sandin v.
Conner, 515 U.S. 472, 483-484 (1995) (internal quotation
marks omitted)). Thus, the Court must consider the nature of
the restrictions the plaintiff faced in the SRG Program and
the severity of those conditions in relation to the ordinary
incidents of prison life, not any specific procedural
requirements in the prison directives. Id. at 223
(citing Sandin, 515 U.S. at 484).
Second Circuit has held that the Sandin analysis
should be applied to determine whether placement in
non-punitive administrative segregation implicates a liberty
interest. Arce v. Walker, 139 F.3d 329, 334-35 (2d
Cir. 1998). To determine whether conditions of segregated
confinement constitute an atypical and significant hardship,
the district court should consider the duration of the
inmate's confinement in segregation as well as the
conditions of segregated confinement. Palmer v.
Richard, 364 F.3d 60, 64 (2d Cir. 2004).
plaintiff alleges that, because this is his second time in
the SRG Program, he must remain in the Program for two years
before he can be considered for return to general population.
Doc. No.11 ¶ 18. He describes the conditions he was and
is subjected to in Phases 2 and 3 of the Program. The Second
Circuit had held that confinement in segregation for more
than 305 days satisfied the Sandin standard. See
Colon v. Howard, 215 F.3d 227, 231 (2d Cir. 2000)
(citation omitted). As the plaintiff alleges that he must
remain in the SRG program for two years, the Court will
assume, for purposes of this review, that he has a protected
liberty interest and consider whether he was afforded all
Hewitt v. Helms, 459 U.S. 460 (1983), the Supreme
Court considered the process required to place an inmate in
administrative segregation. The inmate “must merely
receive some notice of the charges against him and an
opportunity to present his views [either orally or in
writing] to the prison official charged with deciding whether
to transfer him to administrative segregation.”
Id. at 476; see also Wilkinson, 545 U.S. at
229 (Hewitt sets forth the standard of due process
for transfer to administrative segregation as some notice of
charges and opportunity to be heard). The ...