Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Willis v. Commissioner of Indiana Department of Correction

United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, Indianapolis Division

June 28, 2017

WESLEY WILLIS, Plaintiff,
v.
COMMISSIONER OF THE INDIANA DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTION, in his official capacity, and SUPERINTENDENT OF THE PENDLETON CORRECTIONAL FACILITY, in his official capacity, Defendants.

          ENTRY ON CROSS-MOTIONS FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT

          TANYA WALTON PRATT, JUDGE United States District Court

         This matter is before the Court on the parties' cross motions for summary judgment. Plaintiff Wesley Willis (“Willis”) filed this action challenging the constitutionality of a prison regulation. Willis claims that the Indiana Department of Correction (“IDOC”) has wrongfully withheld a newspaper publication from him in violation of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution. Each party seeks resolution of the challenge through the entry of summary judgment. For the reasons explained in this Entry, Willis' Motion for Summary Judgment (Filing No. 26) is denied and the Defendants' Cross-Motion for Summary Judgment (Filing No. 31) is granted.

         I. FINDINGS OF FACT

         The material facts are undisputed. Willis, an inmate in the custody of the IDOC is confined at the Pendleton Correctional Facility (“Pendleton”). Defendants, the Commissioner of the IDOC and the Superintendent of Pendleton, are state officials sued in their official capacities only.

         Beginning in mid-2015, Willis subscribed, at an annual cost of $24.00, to the San Francisco Bay View National Black Newspaper (“the Newspaper”). The Newspaper is an independent publication that attempts to cover issues and current events that are unlikely covered by other media outlets. The Newspaper primarily reports cutting-edge articles and commentary that frequently pertain to civil rights, incarceration, and institutional reform. It also covers subject matter on the economy, politics, the arts, education, history, current events, health, and religion- with a particular emphasis on material that it believes to be relevant to the African-American community. The Newspaper relies heavily on contributions from volunteers-both to contribute material and assist in the Newspaper's publication and distribution. Among the volunteers that regularly contribute content are inmates incarcerated throughout the United States, as well as former inmates.

         For several years, the Newspaper has been allowed, without interruption, into facilities operated by the IDOC. In the past, Willis received copies of the Newspaper in accordance with IDOC policies governing prisoner correspondence. In fact, he received copies of the Newspaper from mid-2015 through November 2015, and is aware that other inmates have received the Newspaper for significantly longer periods of time. Beginning with the December 2015 edition of the Newspaper, however, Willis has been informed each month that IDOC personnel believe the Newspaper represents a threat to institutional security and they have therefore confiscated and refused to disseminate issues of the Newspaper to Willis, pursuant to IDOC's Inmate Correspondence Policy (“the Policy”). The Policy in question is Indiana Department of Correction Policy and Administrative Procedure No. 02-01-103. Filing No. 26-1 at 27-52.

         Pendleton operates a central mail room that provides mail services to the entire prison. The mail room has a staff of three (3) full time and one (1) part time employees. The hours of operation are from 6:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m., five days per week. Approximately 1, 250 incoming pieces of mail and 1, 500 pieces of outgoing mail are processed by Pendleton's mail room each day of operation. This total includes correspondence, books, packages, legal mail, publications, and any other miscellaneous mail items. All correspondence sent to an offender is to be opened by a staff person in order to permit verification and recording of receipt of property; and inspection for, and removal of, contraband or prohibited property. IDOC policy also prescribes that incoming offender correspondence is to be held no more than 24 hours for letters and 48 hours for packages.

         An inmate at Pendleton may not receive correspondence that is deemed by the IDOC to be “restricted correspondence.” “Restricted correspondence” is mail that is authored by a person:

A. held in a correctional facility (Federal, State, or local);
B. on parole;
C. sentenced to a community corrections program;
D. held in a county jail;
E. released from a Department correctional facility to county ...

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.