United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, South Bend Division
OPINION AND ORDER
P. SIMON, JUDGE
Wesley Elkins, a prisoner without a lawyer, filed a complaint
against St. Joe County Jail raising several allegations. A
filing by an unrepresented party “is to be liberally
construed, and a pro se complaint, however inartfully
pleaded, must be held to less stringent standards than formal
pleadings drafted by lawyers.” Erickson v.
Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007) (quotation marks and
citations omitted). Nevertheless, pursuant to 28 U.S.C.
§ 1915A, I must review the merits of a prisoner
complaint and dismiss it if the action is frivolous or
malicious, fails to state a claim upon which relief may be
granted, or seeks monetary relief against a defendant who is
immune from such relief.
alleges he is not receiving the same medications for his
mental health he was taking before he was incarcerated. He
also alleges he is not receiving grief counseling. However, a
prisoner “is not entitled to demand specific care [nor]
entitled to the best care possible.” Forbes v.
Edgar, 112 F.3d 262, 267 (7th Cir. 1997).
alleges he has been placed in solitary confinement. However,
Elkins is a segregation because “[d]iscipline by prison
officials in response to a wide range of misconduct falls
within the expected parameters of the sentence imposed by a
court of law.” Sandin v. Conner, 515 U.S. 472,
485 (1995). He says solitary confinement is making his mental
illness worse, but he does not say how. More importantly, he
does not say who knows about his mental health problems. The
only defendant is the jail, but the jail is a building. It is
not a suable entity. Smith v. Knox County Jail, 666
F.3d 1037, 1040 (7th Cir. 2012). To state a claim, Elkins
must name an individual who personally knows about his need
for mental healthcare and is deliberately indifferent because
“public employees are responsible for their own
misdeeds but not for anyone else's.” Palmer v.
Marion Cty., 327 F.3d 588, 596 (7th Cir. 2003).
alleges jail officials are reading his mail. However, that
alone does not violate the First Amendment. See Gaines v.
Lane, 790 F.2d 1299, 1304 (7th Cir. 1986) (upholding the
inspection of non-legal mail for contraband and listing
examples of prohibited topics for letters, including
“threats of physical harm, blackmail, extortion; plans
to escape; [and] coded letters . . ..”). He also
alleges they throw away his mail and only give him notes of
what the letters said. A jail may “confiscate an
inmate's mail if confiscation ‘is reasonably
related to legitimate penological interests.'”
Williams v. Hansen, 837 F.3d 809, 810 (7th Cir.
2016) (quoting Turner v. Safley, 482 U.S. 78, 89
(1987)). However, in order to overcome a First Amendment
challenge, a defendant must present “some evidence to
show that the restriction is justified.” King v.
Fed. Bureau of Prisons, 415 F.3d 634, 639 (7th Cir.
2005). So Elkins may be able to state a claim based on the
destruction of his letters if he can identify a proper
alleges he is subject “to strip searches by open
homosexuals.” ECF 1 at 4. Strip searches and even body
cavity searches may be constitutional depending on the
circumstances. See Florence v. Bd. of Chosen Freeholders
of Cty. of Burlington, 566 U.S. 318, 322 (2012). Here,
Elkins does not allege the searches are conducted improperly
or for improper reasons. He does not allege who conducts the
searches. He merely alleges they are conducted by “open
Guards take control of where and how prisoners live; they do
not retain any right of seclusion or secrecy against their
captors, who are entitled to watch and regulate every detail
of daily life. After Wolfish and Hudson,
monitoring of naked prisoners is not only permissible . . .
but also sometimes mandatory. . . .
Surveillance of prisoners is essential, as Wolfish
establishes. Observation of cells, showers, and toilets is
less intrusive than the body-cavity inspections
Wolfish held permissible. Guards do the
surveillance. Male guards and female guards too . . .. . . .
[F]emale guards . . . see male prisoners in states of
undress. Frequently. Deliberately. Otherwise they are not
doing their jobs.
Johnson v. Phelan, 69 F.3d 144, 146 (7th Cir. 1995).
So too do openly gay prison guards. And there is nothing
unconstitutional about that. Therefore these allegations do
not state a claim.
alleges his calls for emergency help are ignored and he is
told by guards they do not have time for him. He does not say
when he called for help, why, or who ignored him or responded
inappropriately. This allegation might state a claim if
Elkins provided more facts and named an appropriate
defendant, but as alleged it does not because a complaint
must contain sufficient factual matter to “state a
claim that is plausible on its face.” Bell Atlantic
Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007).
alleges his grievances are returned late or thrown away.
However, being denied access to a prison grievance system
does not state a claim. Kervin v. Barnes, 787 F.3d
833, 835 (7th Cir. 2015).
alleges he has been refused prescription medication by a
nurse. However, he does not say when, he does not name the
nurse, and he does not name the medication nor say when and
by whom it was prescribed. As before, the complaint simply
does not contain sufficient facts to state a claim.
he alleges he has been denied religious materials. However,
he does not say what materials, when or by whom. He does not
clearly identify his religious beliefs nor explain why the
lack of access to those materials substantially burdens his