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Walker v. Mason

United States District Court, W.D. Wisconsin

March 25, 2019

LA'MONT WALKER, Plaintiff,
v.
SARAH MASON, TIMOTHY HAINES, GARY BOUGHTON, CAPTAIN L. BROWN, and JERRY SWEENY, Defendants.

          OPINION AND ORDER

          JAMES D. PETERSON DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Plaintiff La'mont Walker, a prisoner housed at the Wisconsin Secure Program Facility, is proceeding on claims that prison officials violated his due process rights by wrongfully designating him as a gang member and placing him in administrative confinement for more than three years. Before the court is defendants' motion for summary judgment. Dkt. 84. Because I conclude that defendants did not violate Walker's due process rights, I am granting defendants' motion.

         UNDISPUTED FACTS

         The following facts are drawn from the parties' summary judgment materials, and are undisputed unless noted otherwise.

         A. The parties

         Walker was incarcerated at the Wisconsin Secure Program Facility (WSPF) from December 21, 2010 until February 20, 2018. All defendants were employed at WSPF during the relevant time period: Timothy Haines was the warden from March 27, 2011 until March 22, 2014; Gary Boughton has been the warden since March 23, 2014; Lebbeus Brown was a captain and Security Threat Groups Coordinator; Sara Mason was captain of the Alpha Unit; and Jerry Sweeney was the security director.

         B. Initial placement and administrative confinement at WSPF

         When an inmate arrives at WSPF, an intake form is completed by various staff members which summarizes the inmate's conduct and security history and identifies any program needs. The unit team, consisting of the inmate's social worker, the unit manager, and the officers on duty that day, reviews the intake form and makes a recommendation regarding the inmate's status on the housing unit, including whether the inmate should be placed on administrative confinement. An inmate's initial placement is then reviewed and approved by the security director.

         Under Department of Corrections regulations, administrative confinement is an involuntary and restrictive status imposed on inmates whose presence in general population poses a risk to themselves, staff, or other inmates, or because their presence in general population compromises the security and orderly operation of the institution. See Wis. Admin Code Ch. DOC 308. Every 30 days, unit staff members assess the inmates on administrative confinement to evaluate their mental health and programming status and to determine whether a promotion or demotion is necessary. Unit staff members record their findings on a form titled, “Review of Offender in Program Segregation, Disciplinary Separation, or Administrative Confinement.” Staff recommendations are forwarded to the security director and then to the warden, who makes the final determination regarding whether the inmate should stay in restrictive status housing or move to general population.

         In addition to the monthly reviews, inmates in administrative confinement receive an administrative confinement review hearing every six months. At the hearing, an Administrative Confinement Review Committee considers evidence of the inmate's overall conduct, program participation, motivation, and progress. Inmates are invited to give a statement and present evidence. The committee then decides whether the inmate should remain on administrative confinement. If the inmate has been in administrative confinement for more than a year, the warden and the Division of Adult Institutions (DAI) Administrator automatically review the committee's decision and make separate determinations whether the inmate should be kept on or released from administrative confinement.

         Inmates on administrative confinement at WSPF are subject to the following conditions:

• 5-10 hours of out-of-cell activity each week, including outdoor and indoor recreation.
• individual classes and group activities, depending on the inmate's progress;
• daily contact with prison personnel, including when meal trays and medications are handed out, during shower times, and transports for appointments and visits;
• ability to participate in high school equivalency diploma programs and correspondence courses;
• at least three 15-minute phone calls ...

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