United States District Court, N.D. Mississippi, Greenville Division
M. VIRDEN UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
matter comes before the court on the pro se prisoner
complaint of Cameron Lennell Wooten, 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. The plaintiff has brought the instant case under
42 U.S.C. § 1983, which provides a federal cause of
action against “[e]very person” who under color
of state authority causes the “deprivation of any
rights, privileges, or immunities secured by the Constitution
and laws.” 42 U.S.C. § 1983. The plaintiff has
consented to Magistrate Judge jurisdiction in this case under
18 U.S.C. § 636(c).
plaintiff alleges that the defendants violated his right to
due process during prosecution of a Rule Violation Report,
for which he was punished by 18 months' loss of all
privileges and placement in long-term segregation. The court
conducted a hearing as set forth in Spears v.
McCotter, 766 F.2d 179 (5th Cir. 1985) on
September 25, 2018, to determine whether the plaintiff's
allegations state a claim under the Constitution or laws of
the United States. For the reasons set forth below, the
instant case will be dismissed for failure to state a claim
upon which relief could be granted.
plaintiff sets forth two distinct, but related due process
allegations: (1) that he was found guilty of a rule
violation; and (2) that he was placed in long-term
segregation without meaningful periodic review to determine
his eligibility to be placed in less restrictive housing. The
court will discuss both allegations below.
Finding on the Rule Violation
November 7, 2017, at the Mississippi State Penitentiary,
Cameron Wooten threw water in Commander Leather Williams'
face. She issued a Rule Violation Report, charging him with a
C-8 violation, for assaultive action where serious physical
injury occurred. He was found guilty of the infraction, and
he objects because he does not believe that Commander
Williams suffered serious physical injury from the incident.
Thus, he argues, his actions did not meet all elements of the
Rule Violation (C-8). As a result of the infraction, he lost
all privileges for 18 months and was placed in the Long-term
Segregation program, which lasts for a minimum of one year.
of Meaningful Periodic Review
Wooten initially believed that he was not being reviewed
periodically to see if he may be removed from segregation,
and he filed a grievance to that effect. In response to that
grievance, Case Manager Fipps pointed out that, in
Wooten's situation, his Case Manager is his
classification officer, so every time he meets with her, his
classification is being reviewed. According to Ms. Fipps,
Wooten meets with her “every time [his] incarceration
program has been changed to a new status in segregation and
whenever [his] one on one sessions are conducted.” He
began the program in April 2018, and if he successfully
completes it, he may be reclassified for less restrictive
housing in April 2019. If he incurs any Rule Violation
Reports during his stay in long-term segregation, however,
his stay there may be extended. Mr. Wooten complains that, so
far, his meetings with his Classification Officer (which
occur monthly) have been perfunctory, consisting only of
stating his name into a recorder. His current Case Manager is
Ms. January at the Wilkinson County Correctional Facility.
Mr. Wooten has filed a grievance regarding his placement in
segregation, and it was denied.
Process in the Prison Context
Wooten claims that the defendants denied him due process by
processing the Rule Violation Report as one more serious than
his actions would support and by failing to provide
meaningful review of his current custody status to determine
his eligibility for less restrictive housing. As discussed
below, neither of these allegations states a constitutional
the ruling in Sandin v. Conner, 515 U.S. 472 (1995),
the plaintiff has not set forth a valid claim for violation
of the Due Process Clause or any other constitutional
[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. The court found that this
discipline fell “within the expected parameters of the
sentence imposed by a court of law, ” and “did
not present the type of atypical, significant deprivation in
which a State might conceivably create a liberty
interest.” Id. at 2301 and 2300. Therefore,
neither the Due Process Clause itself nor State law or