United States District Court, D. Maryland
THEODORE D. CHUANG UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Jay Collins, an inmate at Brockbridge Correctional Facility
("BCF") in Jessup, Maryland, has filed a civil
rights complaint under 42 U.S.C. S 1983 alleging a violation
of his constitutional rights in connection with strip
searches conducted in February 2017. In response, Defendants
Warden Casey Campbell and Sergeant Melissa Vrolijk, the only
Defendants to have been properly served, have filed a Motion
to Dismiss or, in the Alternative, Motion for Summary
Judgment. Having reviewed the submitted materials, the Court
finds that no hearing is necessary. See D. Md. Local
R. 105.6. For the reasons set forth below, the Motion will be
GRANTED, and the claims against unserved Defendants will be
February 1, 2017, the Contraband
Interdiction Team ("CIT") and "Green
Team" at BCF executed a mass shakedown of the facility,
including strip searches of inmates. Compl. 4, ECF NO.1.
Collins, who was housed in the Kent Dorm in Bunk 40, was
strip-searched in the bunk area and subjected to a visual
body cavity search, both in the presence of the members of
the CIT and "all other inmates." Id.
According to Collins, he was ordered to stand naked
approximately 12 inches away from his bunkmate, who was
ordered to lie face-up on his bunk.
February 9, 2017, Collins filed a grievance pursuant to the
prisonss administrative remedy procedure ("ARP")
complaining about the strip search and about the handling of
his personal property, including legal mail. Sgt. Vrolijk,
the BCF Administrative Remedy Coordinator, returned Collinsss
ARP on February 12, 2017, with instructions to resubmit it
with only one complain.. On February 13, 2017, Collins
resubmitted the ARP, No. BCF-0083-17, in which he limited his
complaint to the strip search. On February 15, 2017, Sgt.
Vrolijk acknowledged receipt of this ARP.
to Collins, on February 17, 2017, Sgt. Vrolijk called him to
her office and explained that BCF correctional staff
"had no control over what the CIT and Green Team
did." Id. Sgt. Vrolijk told Collins that he was
wasting his time and encouraged him to withdraw the ARP.
Collins refused to do so and stated that he wanted to pursue
the matter because his rights had been violated.
February 28, 207,, before Collins received a response to his
ARP, the CIT and Green Team conducted another search of the
facility during which Collins was again subjected to a strip
search and visual body cavity search in the same manner as on
the prior occasion. On March 2, 2017, Collins filed another
ARP in which he complained that the searches violated
Division of Correction Directives ("DCDs") and
"PREA rules." ARP No. BCF-0105-17 at
1, Mot. Dismiss Ex. 2 at 20, ECF No. 19-4.
On March 4, 2017, Sgt. Vrolijk sent Collins a receipt
acknowledging the filing of the second ARP.
March 24, 2017, Collins was summoned to Sgt. Vrolijkss
office, where she told him that there was nothing she could
do about the way searches had been conducted and advised he
should not cite the DCDs when he did not know what they said.
Collins replied that he knew the search violated his
constitutional rights. Sgt. Vrolijk responded that there were
"grey areas" in the rules and that "they
didn't really have to follow them." Compl. 5. Sgt.
Vrolijk later reviewed the DCDs with Collins, including the
requirement that searches of housing units "shall be
conducted in a manner which will avoid unnecessary force,
embarrassmen,, or indignity to the inmate." Id.
[Sgt. Vrolijk again stated that there were "grey
areas," claimed that the DCDs did not necessarily have
to be followed, and asked Collins to withdraw the ARP.
Id. Collins declined to do so.
March 26, 2017, Collins asked Sgt. Vrolijk about the Wardenss
response to both of his ARPs. According to Collins, Sgt.
Vrolijk told him that she had not given the ARPs to the
Warden because it would be a waste of the Wardenss time do so
"because they can get away with doing what [they're]
doing." Id. Collins then wrote a letter
directly to the Warden and put it into the Wardenss mailbox.
Collins never received a response from Warden Campbel..
Furthermore, Warden Campbell did not provide a response to
the ARPs within the 45-day response period provided for under
Campbell and Sgt. Vrolijk do not deny that the strip searches
were conducted, but they deny that Collinsss ARPs were
ignored. Rather, Collins' ARPs were investigated and
dismissed as non-meritoriou..
first ARP, No. BCF-0083-17, was assigned by Sgt. Vrolijk to
Captain Kimberly Bey to conduct an investigation and submit a
report by March 5, 2017. As part of that investigation, Bey
interviewed three CIT leaders, Sgt. Sydney Jackson, Sgt.
Lander Walley, and Cpl. Brandon Wallace. In response to
Bey's inquiry, all three officers provided the same, form
written statement which stated that strip searches are
conducted in a restroom when space is available, but that
because the restrooms at BCF are too small for the safe
conduct of a strip search, CIT conducts strip searches in the
dormitories. No. women or cameras are present during strip
searches of male inmates.
April 12, 2017, Bey issued a report recommending dismissal of
the ARP as lacking merit because Collins was not touched by
staff, he was not strip searched in front of women, he was
not subjected to demoralizing or degrading conduct, and
"at no time was Inmate Collins made to feel
uncomfortable." Bey Report 1, Mot. Dismiss Ex. 2 at 14,
ECF No. 19-4. In Bey's view, "[s]taff performed a
job duty professionally and routinely as they always do when
activated for these interdictions." Id.
8, 2017, Warden Campbell adopted Bey's recommendation and
issued a response to the ARP in which he stated that
"[f]here is no proof that you were demoralized or
degraded by any staff member or members at any time during
your strip search." Wardenss Response 1, Mot. Dismiss
Ex. 2 at 12, ECF No. 19-4.
second ARP, No. BCF-0105-17, was also assigned to Captain Bey
for an investigation, to be completed by April 2, 2017. In
this ARP, Collins alleged that the strip searches violated
both the DCDs and the Prison Rape Elimination Act
("PREA",, 42 U.S.C. SS 15601-15609 (2012). Capt.
Bey's report on this ARP, dated April 12, 2017, is almost
identical to her report on the first ARP in that it relies on
the same form narrative provided by the CIT leaders and
reaches the same conclusions. Capt. Bey recommended that ARP
No. BCF-0105-17 be dismissed as repetitive of, and for the
same reasons underlying the dismissal of, ARP No.
BCF-0083-17. On May 8, 2017, Warden Campbell
issued a response to ARP ...