This is an appeal by an inmate of the Cummins Unit of the Arkansas Department of Correction. Tommy F. Ray filed suit in the United States District Court for the
In his complaint Ray alleged that in May of 1976 he was given Class I Trusty status and his work assignment was changed from garden squad to the garage. He now is "flat man" and his duties include repairing various flat tires, pushing non-operative machinery, and other manual labor. He alleged that he works 90 to 120 hours per week including Sunday work, and further stated that he cannot do the hard labor assigned to him because he is physically disabled. Finally, he contends that he is constantly cursed and threatened by prison supervisors. Petitioner sought an injunction relieving him from working excessive hours, from working on Sundays, and from being compelled to perform duties beyond his physical capabilities.
On appeal Ray contends that his work requirements constitute involuntary servitude, and that his complaint, therefore, states a claim under the Thirteenth Amendment. He further contends that his allegations regarding excessive working hours, overly arduous tasks, and abusive treatment state a claim of cruel and unusual punishment. Finally, Ray maintains that compelling him to work on Sundays violates his freedom of worship.
Ray's contention that his work requirements constitute involuntary servitude in violation of the Thirteenth Amendment is without merit. Compelling prison inmates to work does not contravene the Thirteenth Amendment. See Draper v. Rhay, 315 F.2d 193, 197 (9th Cir.), cert. denied, 375 U.S. 915, 84 S.Ct. 214, 11 L.Ed.2d 153 (1963); Howerton v. Mississippi County, Ark., 361 F.Supp. 356, 364 (E.D. Ark. 1973); Holt v. Sarver, 309 F.Supp. 362, 369-72 (E.D. Ark. 1970), aff'd, 442 F.2d 304 (8th Cir. 1971).
However there are circumstances in which prison work requirements can constitute cruel and unusual punishment. See Jackson v. Bishop, 268 F.Supp. 804, 816 (E.D. Ark. 1967), vacated on other grounds, 404 F.2d 571 (8th Cir. 1968); Talley v. Stephens, 247 F.Supp. 683, 687 (E.D. Ark. 1965). Cf. Wilbron v. Hutto, 509 F.2d 621 (8th Cir. 1975). The court in Talley stated:
247 F.Supp. at 687, quoted in Jackson v. Bishop, supra, 268 F.Supp. at 816.
Under these principles petitioner's contentions, if proven, could constitute cruel and unusual punishment.
Petitioner's religious claim is too conclusory to state a claim for relief. Ray does not allege that he is a follower of a religion which prohibits working on Sunday, or that his work deprives him of an opportunity to spend some part of Sunday in worship. However, in light of our remand on the cruel and unusual punishment claim, the district court may review Ray's religious claim at the same time.