United States District Court, W.D. Wisconsin
OPINION AND ORDER
D. PETERSON DISTRICT JUDGE
plaintiff and prisoner Jeffrey Burr is proceeding on a claim
that defendants Gary Boughton and Mark Kartman (the warden
and the security director of Wisconsin Secure Program
Facility) violated his constitutional right to intimate
association by restricting his visitation for 12 months.
Defendants have moved for summary judgment on the ground that
the restriction imposed was reasonably related to a
legitimate penological interest. Dkt. 21.
didn't respond to defendants' motion, so I must
accept their version of the facts as true. See Yancick v.
Hanna Steel Corp., 653 F.3d 532, 543 (7th Cir. 2011).
But I must still determine whether the undisputed facts show
that defendants are entitled to judgment as a matter of law.
See Doe v. Cunningham, 30 F.3d 879, 883 (7th Cir.
conclude that the undisputed facts provide adequate support
for defendants' decision to limit Burr's visitation.
In December 2017, Burr had a face-to-face visit with a woman
and several children. Dkt. 23, ¶ 4. (Defendants
don't identify Burr's relationship to the visitors.)
Burr kissed and embraced the woman repeatedly throughout the
45-minute visit. Id., ¶ 20. He also repeatedly
placed his hands inside the woman's clothes as well as
his own. Id., ¶ 23. Defendants determined that
Burr's conduct violated prison rules that prohibit
embracing and kissing (except at the end and the beginning of
the visit) and placing hands inside someone else's
clothes. Id., ¶ 24. The purpose of those rules
is to encourage socially acceptable behavior, reduce the
opportunity for exchanging contraband, and reduce the
likelihood of an assault. Id., ¶ 14. As a
result of Burr's violation of the rules, defendants
restricted Burr's face-to-face visitation for 12 months.
Id., ¶¶ 25-29. But Burr was still
permitted to make telephone calls and receive video visits.
Id., ¶ 31.
in this circuit evaluate restrictions on a prisoner's
visitation under the standard first articulated in Turner
v. Safley, 482 U.S. 78 (1987), which is whether the
restriction is reasonably related to a penological interest.
See Easterling v. Thurmer, 880 F.3d 319, 322-23 and
n.6 (7th Cir. 2018). But the Supreme Court has already upheld
as reasonable a ban on contact visits as a response to
concerns about contraband and assaultive behavior. See
Block v. Rutherford, 468 U.S. 576, 586 (1984). Because
those are the same concerns that defendants had in this case,
and defendants continued to allow Burr to have video visits
and telephone calls, Block suggests that
defendants' actions were reasonable.
Block isn't controlling, it is Burr's burden
to show that the restriction is unreasonable. See Overton
v. Bazzetta, 539 U.S. 126, 132 (2003) (“The burden
. . . is not on the State to prove the validity of prison
regulations but on the prisoner to disprove it.”). In
the absence of any evidence or argument from Burr, I cannot
say that imposing a 12-month restriction on contact visits as
a consequence of multiple violations of prison rules violates
the Constitution under the facts of this case. See
Robinson v. Palmer, 841 F.2d 1151, 1156-57 (D.C. Cir.
1988) (upholding permanent ban on face-to-face visits for
contraband violation); Hernandez v. McGinnis, 272
F.Supp.2d 223, 228 (W.D.N.Y. 2003) (upholding three-year
suspension of visitation privileges for violating prison
rules); Young v. Vaughn, No. CIV. A. 98-4630, 2000
WL 1056444, at *2 (E.D. Pa. Aug. 1, 2000) (upholding
six-month suspension of visitation privilege for improper
sexual contact during a visit). See also King v.
Frank, 371 F.Supp.2d 977, 984 (W.D. Wis. 2005) (granting
summary judgment to prison officials on visitation claim when
the plaintiff failed to rebut officials' evidence that
the restrictions were “designed to promote the
institution's interests in maintaining security and
rehabilitating inmates by awarding increasing levels of
privileges for good behavior”).
undisputed facts show that defendants are entitled to
judgment as a matter of law, so I will grant defendants'
motion for summary judgment.
ORDERED that the motion for summary judgment filed by
defendants Gary Boughton and Mark Kartman, Dkt. 21, is
GRANTED. The clerk of court is directed to enter ...