United States District Court, W.D. Wisconsin
OPINION AND ORDER
WILLIAM M. CONLEY DISTRICT JUDGE
se plaintiff David Scott Clapp, a prisoner at Jackson
Correctional Institution (“JCI”), filed this
civil lawsuit under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against JCI staff
for allegedly inadequate compensation for his work there.
Clapp's complaint requires screening by this court under
28 U.S.C. § 1915A. Even construing plaintiff's
allegations generously, Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S.
519, 521 (1972), however, the court must dismiss his lawsuit
for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be
named three defendants who are employed at JCI: Morales and
Peterson, who work in the business office; and Sgt. Smetana,
a correctional officer.
was hired at JCI as the “mail runner” in a
full-time capacity under DOC Policy 309.55.01. Clapp alleges
that he was not paid the proper amount from January 27, 2017.
In particular, he alleges that Sgt. Smetana has been
deducting “20” hours from his pay every pay
period. Clapp further alleges that he asked Peterson and
Morales in JCI's business office about the payment
issues, and neither got back to him. Clapp next complained to
Smetana, who simply told him if he did not like it, he could
attached to his complaint multiple documents related to his
grievance and appeal process. (See dkt. #1-1.) Those
documents show that Clapp did, in fact, file a grievance
complaining that he was no longer being paid for 80 hours
each pay period. The documents also confirm that Clapp was
specifically advised that the reason for his not being paid
for 80 hours of work arose out of inmates in his position no
longer being authorized to work weekends. Thus, Clapp was
actually working a total of 60 hours during each two-week pay
court understands plaintiff to be seeking leave to proceed on
Fourteenth Amendment Due Process and Equal Protection Clause
claims against each defendant. However, the allegations in
his complaint do not support relief under either claim for
the reasons explained below.
Due Process Clause
Fourteenth Amendment due process claim requires him to prove
that: (1) he has a liberty or property interest with which
the state interfered; and (2) the procedures he was afforded
upon that interference were constitutionally deficient.
Ky. Dep't of Corr. v. Thompson, 490 U.S. 454,
460 (1989); Marion v. Columbia Corr. Inst., 559 F.3d
693, 697 (7th Cir. 2009); Scruggs v. Jordan, 485
F.3d 934, 939 (7th Cir. 2007). However, the Court of Appeals
for the Seventh Circuit has held that prisoners do not have a
liberty interest in a prison job. Vanskike v.
Peters, 974 F.2d 806, 809 (7th Cir. 1992)
(“[T]here is no Constitutional right to compensation
for such work; compensation for prison labor is “by
grace of the state.”) (citation omitted).
due process claim is a non-starter here for at least two
reasons. As an initial matter, his allegations and attached
materials suggest that he was compensated according to the
amount of time he worked. More importantly, he has no liberty
interest, as a matter of law, in receiving payment for his
work in prison. Accordingly, his allegations related to the
change in his payment amount do not articulate a claim upon
which relief can be granted.
Equal Protection Clause
“[p]risoners do not surrender their rights to equal
protection at the prison gate, ” Williams v.
Lane, 851 F.2d 867, 881 (7th Cir. 1988), different
treatment of prisoners is permissible so long as there is a
rational basis for it. Flynn v. Thatcher, 819 F.3d
990, 991 (7th Cir. 2016); May v. Sheahan, 226 F.3d
876, 882 (7th Cir. 2000) (“In the prison context, the
Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment requires
inmates to be treated equally, unless unequal treatment bears
a rational relation to a legitimate penal interest.”).
Moreover, in order to state a claim in this context,
plaintiff “must allege facts sufficient to overcome the
presumption of rationality that applies to government
classifications.” St. John's United Church of
Christ v. City of Chicago, 502 F.3d 616, 639 (7th Cir.
plaintiff does not allege any facts suggesting that the
defendants lacked a reason for changing his payment amount to
reflect that he was working 60 hours per week. To the
contrary, the records of plaintiff's grievance suggest
that the pay reduction was caused by the fact that
plaintiff was working less hours. ...