United States District Court, D. Maryland
Catherine C. Blake United States District Judge
February 18, 2015, Warren Chase, a Maryland Division of
Correction (“DOC”) long-term disciplinary
segregation prisoner incarcerated at the North Branch
Correctional Institution in Cumberland, Maryland
(“NBCI”), filed a civil rights action seeking
money damages and injunctive relief mandating his removal
from disciplinary segregation housing. The complaint,
accompanied by a motion and affidavit seeking in forma
pauperis status (ECF No. 2), was granted subject to
assessment of an initial partial filing fee and subsequent
partial payments required pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §
1915(b)(1) and (2).
complaint proceeded solely against Warden Frank Bishop, Jr.,
regarding plaintiff's claim that his indefinite placement
on disciplinary segregation status has impacted his mental
health. (ECF No. 4 at p. 2). Despite plaintiff's status
as a “three strikes” litigant under 28 U.S.C.
§ 1915(e), the claim proceeded as it arguably fell under
the “imminent danger of serious physical injury”
exception provided in § 1915(g). (ECF No. 1; ECF No. 4
at p. 2). Defendant was ordered to clarify how long plaintiff
is likely to remain on segregation; whether his stay on
disciplinary segregation status is actually for an indefinite
period of time; whether regular review of plaintiff's
placement on disciplinary segregation has occurred and will
occur in the future; and whether plaintiff has been provided
access to mental health services during his confinement.
defendant's response (ECF No. 9), preliminary injunctive
relief mandating plaintiff's immediate release from
disciplinary segregation status was denied and defendant was
ordered to analyze plaintiff's disciplinary segregation
confinement in light of recent Fourth Circuit decisions,
including Prieto v. Clarke, 780 F.3d 245 (4th Cir.
2015), and Incumaa v. Stirling, 791 F.3d 517, 531
(4th Cir. 2015), as amended (July 7, 2015). (ECF No.
11 at pp. 2-3). Defendant has complied, filing an
unopposed motion to dismiss or, in the alternative,
motion for summary judgment. (ECF No. 15). A hearing in this
matter is unnecessary. See Local Rule 105.6 (D. Md.
2016). For reasons set forth herein, the motion, construed as
a motion for summary judgment, shall be granted and the case
asserts that his indefinite stay on disciplinary segregation
since 2008 has caused “extreme social isolation”
and impacted his mental health. Plaintiff also claims that he
has not been permitted to take part in programming such as
the Behavior Management Program (BMP) or for anger
management, he has not had any of his disciplinary
segregation time cut, he has not been protected from harm, he
cannot exhaust administrative remedies because he is provided
no forms, and mental health care is inadequate. He seeks
declaratory and injunctive relief removing him from
disciplinary segregation and 50 million dollars in damages.
Warden Richard Miller avers that plaintiff in fact is serving
a defined, long-term assignment to disciplinary segregation
status. (ECF No. 15-2, Miller Decl. at ¶ 5). Plaintiffs
current release date from disciplinary segregation is January
18, 2032. (ECF No. 15-6, Inmate Data Manager). Plaintiff has
accrued numerous institutional infractions during his
incarceration. (ECF No. 15-3, Randy Durst Records Decl.
at ¶ 5; ECF No. 15-6, Rule Violations Summary).
warden has authority to suspend any and all of a disciplinary
segregation sentence if deemed appropriate. Although
plaintiff had his disciplinary sentence reduced on March 22,
2013 (ECF No. 15-7), this option typically is not triggered
because plaintiff continues to exhibit behavior detrimental
to the security of the institution. (ECF No. 15-2 at
is housed on NBCI Housing Unit 1 in a single cell. (ECF No.
15-2 at ¶ 7; ECF No. 15-8; ECF No. 15-3, Durst Decl. at
¶ 9). Due to his history of assaultive behavior, he is
classified as a Maximum II inmate, the highest security
classification. (ECF No. 15-3, Durst Decl. at ¶ 9). His
cell is situated between other cells and plaintiff is free to
communicate with the occupants of those cells.
(Id.). He has all the privileges afforded those on
disciplinary segregation as outlined in Division of
Correction Directive 110-6. (ECF No. 15-2 at ¶
7; ECF No. 15-3, DCD 110-6 at pp. 61-67).
on disciplinary segregation receive two showers each week, a
weekly change of bed linen, monthly haircuts, out-of-cell
activity, health care, and monthly reviews by case management
staff. (ECF No. 15-2 at ¶ 7; ECF No. 15-3, DCD 110-6
(IV)(D)(1-3)(H, I, J) at pp. 63-64). Cell lights are
generally turned off at night, with prisoners in control of
the lights inside the cell. An exception is made for special
housing inmates, who must rely on an officer to turn off the
lights. (ECF No. 15-4, Bradly Wilt, Housing Unit 1 Manager,
Decl. at ¶ 3). Out-of-cell activity is scheduled for at
least five days each week for an hour, and is held outdoors,
weather permitting. (ECF No. 15-3, DCD 110-6 (VI)(H) at p.
64; ECF No. 15-4 at ¶ 3).
care includes mental health and dental care. (ECF No. 15-3,
DCD 110-6(VI)(I) at p. 64). Disciplinary segregation
prisoners have access to educational services if provided by
the Maryland State Department of Education, library services,
legal reference materials, access to a chaplain for religious
assistance, mail, commissary, and the material to clean their
cells at least once each week. (ECF No. 15-3, DCD
110-6(VI)(K-M, O, Q-S) at pp. 64-66).
may discuss his status monthly with NBCI case management
staff. (ECF No. 15-8 at ¶ 7). A review of case notes for
2015 shows that on most occasions plaintiff attended those
meetings. (Id; ECF No. 15-9, Confidential Case
Notes). Plaintiff is seen by NBCI mental health, social work,
medical, and case management staff on a regular basis. (ECF
No. 15-8 at ¶ 8).
offers both psychological and psychiatric treatment upon
request, and mental health staff, medical staff, and
corrections personnel may also refer a prisoner for mental
health services if it appears necessary. (ECF No. 15-5, Decl.
of Bruce Liller, MS, LCPC, NBCI Mental Health Program
Manager, at ¶ 2). Appropriate medications may be
prescribed or discontinued at the psychiatrist's
direction. (Id.). Correctional personnel receive
training about mental health issues and they are directed to
seek mental health intervention for prisoners when
appropriate. (Id.). In addition, as part of the
mental health contract with a private entity, a nurse makes
rounds in the Disciplinary/Administrative Segregation Housing
weekly as another means to assess worsening mental health
has a Special Needs Unit (SNU) which houses those with
serious mental illnesses. (ECF No. 15-5 at ¶ 3).
Plaintiff is not housed there because his poor conduct is
deemed to stem mainly from behavioral maladjustment, rather
than mental illness. (Id.). In the year following
the filing of this lawsuit, plaintiff has been regularly
monitored by medical and mental health staff and is deemed
competent and responsible, with no worsening of his mental
illness. (Id.). A review of medical and mental
health records between February, 2014, and February, 2015,
shows that he was physically seen and evaluated by health
care and mental health personnel on numerous ...