United States District Court, N.D. Mississippi, Greenville Division
May 26, 2015
NORA DUCKSWORTH, Plaintiff,
J. BOBO, ET AL., Defendants,
GLEN H. DAVIDSON, Senior District Judge.
This matter comes before the court on the pro se prisoner complaint of Nora Ducksworth, who challenges the conditions of his confinement under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. For the purposes of the Prison Litigation Reform Act, the court notes that the plaintiff was incarcerated when he filed this suit. Ducksworth alleges that he was falsely accused and found guilty of two prison rule infractions. For the reasons set forth below, the instant case will be dismissed for failure to state a claim upon which relief could be granted.
Ducksworth, who is serving a life sentence in the custody of the Mississippi Department of Corrections for armed robbery and murder, alleges that he has been falsely found guilty of two Rule Violation Reports involving a stabbing incident. The first Rule Violation Report charged him with assaultive action resulting in serious bodily injury; the second charged that he gave support to the Gangster Disciples prison gang. The punishment for each infraction was 30 days' loss of privileges.
Under the ruling in Sandin v. Conner, 515 U.S. 472, 115 S.Ct. 2293, 132 L.Ed.2d 418 (1995), the plaintiff has not set forth a valid claim for violation of the Due Process Clause or any other constitutional protection. Though "[s]tates may under certain circumstances create liberty interests which are protected by the Due Process Clause, ... these interests will be generally limited to freedom from restraint which, while not exceeding the sentence in such an unexpected manner as to give rise to protection by the Due Process Clause of its own force... nonetheless imposes atypical and significant hardship on the inmate in relation to the ordinary incidents of prison life." Id. 115 S.Ct. at 2300 (citations omitted). In Sandin, the discipline administered the prisoner was confinement in isolation. This discipline fell "within the expected parameters of the sentence imposed by a court of law, " id. at 2301, and "did not present the type of atypical, significant deprivation in which a State might conceivably create a liberty interest." Id. Therefore, neither the Due Process Clause itself nor State law or regulations gave rise to a liberty interest providing the procedural protections set forth in Wolff v. McDonnell, 418 U.S. 539, 41 L.Ed.2d 935 (1974). See also Malchi v. Thaler, 211 F.3d 953, 958 (5th Cir. 2000) (holding prisoner's thirty-day loss of commissary privileges and cell restriction due to disciplinary action failed to give rise to due process claim).
In the present case, the plaintiff's punishment was 30 days' loss of privileges for each infraction. Such punishment clearly lies "within the expected parameters of the sentence imposed by a court of law, " id. at 2301, and "did not present the type of atypical, significant deprivation in which a State might conceivably create a liberty interest." Id. As such, the plaintiffs allegations regarding violation of his right to due process are without merit, and the instant case will be dismissed for failure to state a claim upon which relief could be granted.