United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, South Bend Division
OPINION AND ORDER
Edward Harris, Jr., a prisoner without a lawyer, filed a
complaint against Warden Julie Lawson alleging he is being
held at the St. Joseph County Jail instead of an Indiana
Department of Correction facility, and that he is therefore
denied access to programs that would allow him to earn a time
cut, including educational programs. He further alleges that
he is housed in conditions akin to maximum security when, if
he were at an IDOC facility, he would be placed in a
minimum-security facility. 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, the court 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.
Eighth Amendment requires prison officials to “provide
humane conditions of confinement, . . . ensure that inmates
receive adequate food, clothing, shelter, and medical care,
and to “take reasonable measures to guarantee the
safety of the inmates.” Farmer v. Brennan, 511
U.S. 825, 832 (1994) (quotation marks and citations omitted).
A prison official is liable under the Eighth Amendment only
if he “knows of and disregards an excessive risk to
inmate health or safety.” Id. at 837.
Conditions of confinement must be severe to support an Eighth
Amendment claim; “the prison officials' act or
omission must result in the denial of ‘the minimal
civilized measure of life's necessities.”
Id. at 834. The Eighth Amendment only protects
prisoners from conditions that “exceed contemporary
bounds of decency of a mature, civilized society.”
Jackson v. Duckworth, 955 F.2d 21, 22 (7th Cir.
1992). In other words, “[a]n objectively sufficiently
serious risk is one that society considers so grave that to
expose any unwilling individual to it would offend
contemporary standards of decency.” Christopher v.
Buss, 384 F.3d 879, 882 (7th Cir. 2004) (quotation marks
and citations omitted). Denying Harris access to programs
that he might qualify for if he were instead housed at an
IDOC facility does not even come close to implicating the
claim fairs no better when considered under the Fourteenth
Amendment. The Fourteenth Amendment provides that State
officials shall not “deprive any person of life,
liberty, or property, without due process of law . .
..” However, a criminal conviction provides due process
for the loss of liberty caused by the incarceration of a
prisoner. So in the prison context, the Fourteenth Amendment
only requires additional due process when punishment extends
the duration of confinement or imposes “an atypical and
significant hardship on him in relation to the ordinary
incidents of prison life.” Sandin v. Conner,
515 U.S. 472, 484 (1995). “After Sandin, it is
clear that the touchstone of the inquiry into the existence
of a protected, state-created liberty interest in avoiding
restrictive conditions of confinement is not the language of
regulations regarding those conditions but the nature of
those conditions themselves in relation to the ordinary
incidents of prison life. Wilkinson v. Austin, 545
U.S. 209, 223 (2005) (quotation marks and citation omitted).
In the ordinary incidents of prison life “[t]here is no
constitutional mandate to provide educational,
rehabilitative, or vocational programs, in the absence of
conditions that give rise to a violation of the Eighth
Amendment.” Zimmerman v. Tribble, 226 F.3d
568, 571 (7th Cir. 2000) (internal quotation omitted). As
explained, there is no Eighth Amendment violation here.
Consequently, the denial of access to programs that could
reduce the amount of time Harris must serve does not
implicate a protected liberty interest. Id. See also
Soule v. Potts, 676 Fed.Appx. 585, 586 (7th Cir. 2017).
it is usually necessary “to give pro se litigants one
opportunity to amend after dismissing a complaint[, ]
that's unnecessary where, as here, it is certain from the
face of the complaint that any amendment would be futile or
otherwise unwarranted.” Carpenter v. PNC Bank, Nat.
Ass'n, 633 Fed.Appx. 346, 348 (7th Cir. Feb. 3,
2016) (quotation marks omitted); Luevano v.
Wal-Mart, 722 F.3d 1014 (7th Cir. 2013); Hukic v.
Aurora Loan Servs., 588 F.3d 420, 432 (7th Cir. 2009)
(“[C]ourts have broad discretion to deny leave to amend
where . . . the amendment would be futile.”).
these reasons, this case is DISMISSED pursuant to 28 U.S.C.
§ 1915A ...