United States District Court, E.D. Wisconsin
HOWARD F. WILLIAMS, Plaintiff,
WILLIAM POLLARD, ANTHONY MELI, CAPTAIN RADTKE, MS HAUTAMAKI, CAPTAIN O'DONOVAN, FRANCIS PALIEKARA, NEVIN WEBSTER, CO SPITTEL, CO BEASLEY, EDWARD F. WALL, and UNKNOWN, Defendants.
DECISION AND ORDER
Adelman District Judge
plaintiff, Howard F. Williams, is a prisoner proceeding
pro se on claims under the Religious Land Use and
Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA) and 42 U.S.C. §
1983 stemming from prison officials' confiscation of
materials related to and general treatment of Fruit of Islam,
a subgroup within the religious group Nation of Islam. He
also proceeds on claims that prison officials retaliated
against him in violation of the First Amendment because of
his religion and his role in establishing Nation of Islam in
Wisconsin's prisons. Before me now is defendants'
motion for summary judgment.
facts are primarily taken from defendants'
“Response to Plaintiff's Additional Proposed
Findings of Fact” (ECF No. 91) and “Reply to
Plaintiff's Response to Defendants' Proposed Findings
of Fact” (ECF No. 92), supplemented, as necessary, by
other materials in the record.
is a prisoner currently housed at New Lisbon Correctional
Institution. At all times relevant to this case, plaintiff
was housed at Waupun Correctional Institution (Waupun).
Defendants are Wisconsin Department of Corrections (DOC)
employees, most of whom worked at Waupun during the relevant
is a member of the religious group Nation of Islam (NOI). He
was involved in establishing NOI at Waupun and throughout DOC
in the 1990s. Fruit of Islam (FOI) is the male-only
paramilitary wing of NOI. FOI is organized in a military
structure with military-style ranks, it provides security to
NOI members, and its members adhere to a set of laws and
rules not sanctioned by DOC. Plaintiff generally disputes
this characterization of FOI, though documents from NOI,
including those confiscated from plaintiff, support it.
officials at Waupun and throughout DOC consider FOI to be a
security threat group (STG). Broadly, STGs are groups that
threaten, intimidate, coerce, or harass others or engage in
activities that violate or encourage the violation of
statutes, administrative rules, departmental policies, or
institutional procedures. STGs like FOI undermine the
authority of corrections officers and encourage violence.
Many STGs are at least nominally associated with a religion
or religious group.
previously had a zero-tolerance policy toward materials that
mention STGs, but since 2006, materials that only
incidentally mention an STG are allowed, while those that
advocate for or promote an STG are prohibited. Prison
officials review materials on a case-by-case basis to
ascertain whether they are prohibited and, therefore,
March 4, 2013, as part of a scheduled lockdown, during which
corrections officials search prisoner cells and common areas
for contraband, defendant Daniel Spittel, a Corrections
Officer, searched plaintiff's cell. He found hundreds of
pages of materials about NOI and several documents about FOI.
He was not sure which materials were allowed, so he seized
all of the documents that he thought might be contraband and
provided them to defendant Kelly Beasley, another Corrections
Officer, for further review. Beasley reviewed the materials,
consulted with other Waupun staff, and conducted research to
determine whether any of the materials were prohibited.
Defendant Cynthia Radtke, a Captain and STG Coordinator, also
reviewed the materials. All of plaintiff's materials were
returned to him except five pages that were deemed prohibited
STG materials because they advocated for or promoted FOI. Two
pages contain rules and laws that FOI members are required to
follow, two pages contain questions and answers about NOI and
FOI, and one page contains an NOI pledge card with
instructions to report to FOI training. Plaintiff asked
defendant Francis Paliekara, a Chaplain, for his help in
getting his FOI materials back. Paliekara told plaintiff that
NOI is allowed but FOI is not and that whether specific
material is considered contraband depends on its content.
met with plaintiff about the five pages of confiscated FOI
materials and told him that unless he sent the materials out
of the prison or destroyed them he would receive a conduct
report for possessing contraband. Plaintiff disagreed that
the materials were contraband so refused. Beasley issued him
a conduct report for violating DOC provisions of the
Wisconsin Administrative Code covering “group
resistance and petitions” and “possession of
contraband.” Defendant John O'Donovan, a Captain,
was the hearing officer for plaintiff's disciplinary
hearing. After taking evidence and considering testimony,
O'Donovan found plaintiff guilty. Plaintiff appealed the
decision to defendant William Pollard, the Warden, who
affirmed the decision.
that month, plaintiff sent defendant Nevin Webster, a
librarian, a request to make a photocopy of a memo from the
DOC's Division of Adult Institutions Security Chief from
2006 concerning STG materials. Webster noticed that the memo
was stamped “GP Library” in green, which
indicated to him that the document was from the general
population library at the Wisconsin Secure Program Facility
(Boscobel). Webster believed that the document was an
original that did not belong to plaintiff and that he had
removed it from the library at Boscobel, so he issued
plaintiff a conduct report for violating DOC provisions of
the Wisconsin Administrative Code covering
“theft” and “possession of
contraband.” O'Donovan was the hearing officer for
plaintiff's disciplinary hearing. O'Donovan found
plaintiff guilty of possessing contraband but not of theft
because the evidence showed another inmate may have given the
memo to plaintiff. Plaintiff appealed the decision to
Pollard, who affirmed the decision.
this time, plaintiff held a prison job in food service.
Prison job placements at Waupun generally only last two
years, and plaintiff's two years were up as of April
2013. Some inmates are granted extensions, but plaintiff was
not. Soon thereafter, plaintiff requested a new placement in
food service, which was denied. Defendants say this is
because prisoners are not allowed to start a new equivalent
job placement until two years after their previous placement
ends. Additionally, prison officials take a prisoner's
behavioral history and institutional adjustment into account
when considering a prisoner's request for a job
placement, and plaintiff had been issued multiple conduct
reports. Plaintiff claims he was denied the job in
retaliation for his religion. Plaintiff wrote a letter to
Pollard to which defendant Anthony Meli, the Security
Director, responded. Meli's response stated that
plaintiff was denied the job due to his conduct report
timely filed and properly appealed three inmate complaints
relevant to his claims in this case. Plaintiff complained
that Radtke had taken and refuses to return his religious
materials, that his religious materials are being wrongly
denied, and that he was denied the food service job because
of his religion. He brought this suit alleging numerous
violations of his rights under the Constitution and RLUIPA.
Broadly, he claims that NOI and FOI are indistinguishable
groups so restrictions on FOI burden his ability to practice
NOI and that prison officials at Waupun targeted him and
singled out NOI for negative treatment.