WESTEFER v. SNYDER
725 F.Supp.2d 735 (2010)
United States District Court, S.D. Illinois.
July 20, 2010.
Prison security, imperiled by the brutal reality of prison gangs, provides the backdrop of the State's interest. Clandestine, organized, fueled by race-based hostility, and committed to fear and violence as a means of disciplining their own members and their rivals, gangs seek nothing less than to control prison life and to extend their power outside prison walls. Murder of an inmate, a guard, or one of their family members on the outside is a common form of gang discipline and control, as well as a condition for membership in some gangs. Testifying against, or otherwise informing on, gang activities can invite one's own death sentence. It is worth noting in this regard that for prison gang members serving life sentences, some without the possibility of parole, the deterrent effects of ordinary criminal punishment may be substantially diminished.
Id. (citations omitted). The Court also noted Ohio's strong interest in prudently managing the state's limited resources. "The problem of scarce resources is another component of the State's interest. The cost of keeping a single prisoner in one of Ohio's ordinary maximum-security prisons is $34,167 per year, and the cost to maintain each inmate at OSP is $49,007 per year." Id. at 228, 125 S.Ct. 2384. "We can assume that Ohio, or any other penal system, faced with costs like these will find it difficult to fund more effective education and vocational assistance programs to improve the lives of the prisoners." Id. In view of these compelling state interests, the Court concluded, "courts must give substantial deference to prison management decisions before mandating additional expenditures for elaborate procedural safeguards when correctional officials conclude that a prisoner has engaged in disruptive behavior." Id.
After balancing the Mathews factors, the Wilkinson Court held that Ohio's policies governing placement of inmates of the state correctional system at the OSP adequately safeguard the liberty interest of such inmates in avoiding the conditions of confinement in supermax custody. The Court pointed out that in determining whether an inmate should be placed in supermax confinement, correctional officials must assess an inmate's whole prison record and make what amounts to a prediction of the inmate's conduct in the future, an inquiry that implicates both the
penological expertise of prison administrators and the overriding state interest in protecting the safety of other inmates and correctional personnel. In placing inmates at the OSP, the Court noted,
Ohio is not, for example, attempting to remove an inmate from free society for a specific parole violation, or to revoke good-time credits for specific, serious misbehavior, where more formal, adversary-type procedures might be useful. Where the inquiry draws more on the experience of prison administrators, and where the State's interest implicates the safety of other inmates and prison personnel,... informal, nonadversary procedures... provide the appropriate model.
Wilkinson, 545 U.S. at 228-29, 125 S.Ct. 2384 (citations omitted). In sum, because decisions about placing inmates in supermax confinement are ones that implicate the correctional expertise of prison administrators and the compelling state interest in the maintenance of prison security, such decisions necessarily are most susceptible of resolution through informal procedures.
To determine what process, under Wilkinson and Mathews, is constitutionally due IDOC inmates placed in the supermax prison at Tamms, the Court must address three issues regarding existing IDOC procedures for placing inmates in Tamms: first, whether the administrative grievance procedures created by IDOC regulations provide a constitutionally adequate means of protecting the liberty interest of IDOC inmates in avoiding confinement at Tamms; second, whether for inmates assigned to Tamms in disciplinary segregation, who under current IDOC regulations are not entitled to a hearing to review their transfer to Tamms until such time as they have completed their sentence of segregation, the hearing that they receive on the disciplinary charge resulting in their segregation placement adequately protects the liberty interest of segregation inmates in avoiding confinement at Tamms; and third, whether for inmates assigned to Tamms in administrative detention status, the framework of periodic transfer review hearings furnished under current IDOC regulations adequately protects the liberty interest of those inmates in avoiding confinement at Tamms. After these three matters are resolved, the Court will examine the constitutional adequacy under Wilkinson and Mathews of the procedures for placing inmates at Tamms outlined in IDOC Director Randle's Ten-Point Plan.2. Challenging Placement at Tamms through IDOC Grievance Procedures