United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, Indianapolis Division
ORDER SCREENING AND DISMISSING COMPLAINT AND
DIRECTING FURTHER PROCEEDINGS
WALTON PRATT, JUDGE
James Johnson, an inmate at the Correctional Industrial
Facility (“CIF”) in Pendleton, Indiana, brings
this action alleging that he was removed from a prison
program in violation of his rights to due process and equal
protection. Because Mr. Johnson is a “prisoner, ”
the Court must screen his complaint before service on the
defendants. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a), (c).
Court must dismiss the complaint if it is frivolous or
malicious, fails to state a claim for relief, or seeks
monetary relief against a defendant who is immune from such
relief. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b). In determining whether the
complaint states a claim, the Court applies the same standard
as when addressing a motion to dismiss under Federal Rule of
Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). See Cesal v. Moats, 851
F.3d 714, 720 (7th Cir. 2017). To survive dismissal,
[the] complaint must contain sufficient factual matter,
accepted as true, to state a claim for relief that is
plausible on its face. A claim has facial plausibility when
the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to
draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable
for the misconduct alleged.
Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). Pro se
complaints like Mr. Johnson's are construed liberally and
held to a less stringent standard than formal pleadings
drafted by lawyers. Perez v. Fenoglio, 792 F.3d 768,
776 (7th Cir. 2015).
complaint names five defendants: (1) Wendy Knight, (2) D.
Ritchie-Gardener, (3) Evelyn McDonald, (4) Correctional
Officer Lt. Bryant, and (5) Unit Team Manager Mr. Hunt.
Johnson alleges that McDonald, Bryant, and Hunt removed him
from CIF's Recover While Incarcerated program without due
process and in violation of his equal protection rights. He
alleges that Knight delegated his classification appeal to
Ritchie-Gardener, who denied the appeal.
Johnson seeks damages and injunctive relief.
Johnson's due process claim for removal from the Recover
While Incarcerated program is dismissed for failure
to state a claim on which relief can be granted. An
inmate does not have a liberty interest in admission to an
educational program, even if the program allows for potential
sentence credit. See Zimmerman v. Tribble, 226 F.3d
568, 571-72 (7th Cir. 2000) (finding no due process
protection because “the successful completion of a
program is not inevitable” and thus “denying [an
inmate] the opportunity to earn good credit time does not
‘inevitably affect the duration of the sentence,'
and does not deprive him of constitutional guarantees”
(quoting Higgason v. Farley, 83 F.3d 807, 809-10
(7th Cir. 1996)). Accordingly, the defendants were not
required to provide due process before removing Mr. Johnson
from the program.
same reason, Mr. Johnson's due process claim based on his
classification appeal is dismissed for failure to
state a claim on which relief can be granted.
“Prison grievance procedures ... do not by their very
existence create interests protected by the Due Process
Clause.” Owens v. Hinsley, 635 F.3d 950,
953-54 (7th Cir. 2011).
Johnson's equal protection claim also is
dismissed for failure to state a claim on which
relief can be granted. To state an equal protection
claim, Mr. Johnson would have to allege that (1) he was a
member of a protected class, (2) he was treated differently
from a similarly situated member of an unprotected class, and
(3) the defendants were motivated by a discriminatory
purpose. Alston v. ...