A schizophrenic prisoner was sent to disciplinary segregation and claims violation of due process. Court disagrees. Ninja is in reference to the style of shoes provided to prisoners in segregation – “ninja-style soft shoes”


Civil No. 10-1002 (DWF/LIB)


2012 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 39029

Decided February 14, 2012

Opinion by US Magistrate Judge Leo I. Brisbois:

Facts Relating to Plaintiff

Plaintiff suffers from paranoid schizophrenia and schizoaffective disorder. (Amended Compl. [Docket No. 15], p. 2.) Initially, Plaintiff was incarcerated in MCF-St. Cloud in December 2008. (Id). Plaintiff has been incarcerated at MCF-Oak Park Heights (MCF-OPH) and MCF-Stillwater since January 2009. (McComb Aff. [Docket No. 41], Ex. A). While at MCF-OPH and MCF-Stillwater, Plaintiff spent time in the administrative control unit. Id.

Throughout his time incarcerated, Plaintiff has received a number of disciplinary violations. (Green Aff. [Docket No. 80], Ex. D). From December 2008 to the filing of Plaintiff complaint on March 29, 2010, Plaintiff has been involved in 19 separate disciplinary incidents. Id. These violations have resulted in lengthy stays in disciplinary segregation for the Plaintiff. Id. One violation that occurred on November 23, 2009 required Plaintiff to spend 240 days in disciplinary segregation. Id. Other punishments, however, have been shorter. Plaintiff only received five days in administrative segregation for one of his violations. Id. [Footnote1: Plaintiff’s major disciplinary violations have also added approximately 370 days to his incarceration. (Green Aff.)]

Regarding due process claims:

the Court finds that this case mirrors the claim in Johnson v. Beard, 2008 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 113616, 2008 WL 2594034 (M.D. Pa. June 27, 2008). In that case, the prisoner raised an identical claim to that of the Plaintiff’s now before this Court. Specifically, the prisoner in Johnson alleged that “Defendants violated his due process rights by placing him in punitive segregation lock-down for at least 1090 days as punishment for the symptoms of his mental illness.” Johnson, 2008 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 113616, 2008 WL 2594034, at * 6. However, the Court found that placing a prisoner in punitive segregation, even if he suffered from a mental illness, did not constitute an atypical and significant hardship creating a liberty interest protected by the due process clause. 2008 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 113616, [WL] at * 7. In the instant case, like in Johnson, the Plaintiff contends that his placement in punitive segregation for 19 months was punishment for having a mental illness. But, such placement does not create a protected liberty interest.

Plaintiff has not presented any admissible evidence that his time spent in punitive segregation was so restrictive that it was atypical and significant in relation to the ordinary incidents of prison life. [Footnote4: Plaintiff contends that the restrictions of punitive segregation are more onerous than those of administrative segregation and prisoners in punitive segregation are allowed $20 dollars to purchase items from the canteen, only receive “county jail-like ‘pajama’ clothes,” receive “ninja-style soft shoes,” must use communal underwear and socks, are not allowed photographs, newspapers, and magazines, and cannot receive visits. (Pl’s Mem. in Opp’n, p. 18). However, these limitations do not give constitute a significant and atypical hardship. See Emil v. Crawford, 125 Fed.Appx. 112, 112-13 (9th Cir. 2005) (finding that the denial of canteen privileges does not trigger due process rights); Beverati v. Smith, 120 F.3d 500, 502 (4th Cir. 1997) (holding that administrative segregation for six months with vermin; human waste; flooded toilet; unbearable heat; cold food; dirty clothing, linens, and bedding; longer periods in cell; no outside recreation; no educational or religious services; and less food was not so atypical as to impose significant hardship); Ind v. Colorado Dept. of Corrs., 2011 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 151833, 2012 WL 161418 (D. Colo. Jan. 19, 2012)(restrictions on books and magazines does not violate a constitutional right); Gordon v. Downs, 175 Fed.Appx. 798, 798-99 (9th Cir. 2006)(affirming district court’s finding that suspending visitation rights without a disciplinary hearing did not create an “atypical and significant hardship in relation to the ordinary incidents of prison life”); Ware v. Morrison, 276 F.3d 385, 387 (8th Cir. 2002) (“loss of visitation privileges is within the ordinary incidents of confinement and cannot be considered an atypical and significant hardship”).]

Plaintiff has, therefore, not created a genuine issue of material fact that he has a protected liberty interest to not be placed in segregated confinement for disciplinary infractions which would give rise to a right to due process before being placed in segregation. On this claim, the Court recommends that the Defendants’ summary judgment motion be granted.

The Magistrate Judge recommendations were adopted by District Judge Donovan Frank on 3/22/2012