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Lackey v. Cradduck

United States District Court, W.D. Arkansas, Fayetteville Division

October 31, 2017




         This is a civil rights action filed by Plaintiff pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. He proceeds pro se and in forma pauperis.

         Plaintiff is currently incarcerated in the East Arkansas Regional Unit of the Arkansas Department of Correction (ADC). The events that are the subject of this action occurred while Plaintiff was incarcerated in the Benton County Detention Center (BCDC).

         The case is before the Court on the Motion for Summary Judgment (ECF No. 32) filed by the Defendants. On June 8, 2017, a hearing was held to allow Plaintiff to testify in response to the Motion. Plaintiff appeared by video conference from the ADC. At the conclusion of the hearing, the Motion was taken under advisement pending preparation of this report and recommendation.

         I. BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff was booked into the BCDC on May 13, 2014, on a charge of sexual assault. ECF No. 34-2 at 1. He was classified as a sex offender. Id. Sex offenders were housed separately for their protection. ECF No. 34-6 at 16. Sex offenders were housed in E-104 or E-107. Id. at 15.

         Plaintiff testified at the hearing that he had been at the BCDC for several months before he learned about the General Equivalency Degree (GED) program. Defendants submitted an affidavit from Lieutenant Robin explaining that from 2014 through early 2016, Lieutenant Jesus Martinez was the liaison for certain volunteer programs including the GED program. ECF No. 34-1 at 2. The GED program was offered as a result of volunteers from the local community college, NorthWest Arkansas Community College (NWACC). Id. The volunteers set the time and date of the classes and the class size. Id. Generally, classes were limited to ten inmates. Id. The materials were donated. Id. The classes were "sporadically offered based on the availability and willingness of the volunteers." From the Fall of 2015 through at least November of 2016, "no GED classes were offered because there were no volunteers to provide the classes." Id. An inmate stayed in the GED class until he felt ready to take the test. ECF No. 34-1 at 3. The volunteers administered the test.Id. Once an inmate passed the test, he was moved out of the class and another inmate moved in. Id.

         The BCDC:

did not decide who was in the class except to the extent that a particular class member would not be allowed if his/her presence was a safety risk for other members of the class or for him/herself. For example, an individual being held in protective custody would not be placed in the class because of the security risk to that person. All sex offenders are held in protective custody.

ECF No. 34-1 at 2. This concept was applied to "any volunteer offerings . . . where the volunteer would be in a setting with multiple detainees at once." Id. The volunteer was free to meet with an individual but that was up to the volunteer to make a commitment for individual offerings. Id. at 3.

         Plaintiff testified that beginning in July of 2014, he asked to join the GED program. Jail records show that on July 24, 2014, Plaintiff asked if it was true you could get your GED while at the BCDC. ECF No. 34-3 at 1. Sergeant Sharp responded: "you can attend classes yes." Id.

         On July 25, 2014, Plaintiff requested a GED book to study for class. ECF No. 34-3 at 2.

         Sergeant Sharp responded that Plaintiff would need to ask the teacher at his next class. Id.

         On July 30, 2014, Plaintiff requested schedule and enrollment information for the GED program. ECF No. 34-3 at 4. He was told to resubmit the request to Lieutenant Martinez. Id. Plaintiff did so the next day. Id. at 5. In response, Lieutenant Martinez indicated the program would start again in three weeks.[1] Id.

         On August 10, 2014, Plaintiff stated he would like to enroll in the GED class and asked how to do that. ECF No. 34-3 at 6. In response, Sergeant Lara stated Plaintiff would be put on the list. Id.

         Plaintiff testified he left it at this, thinking that he would be told when the next enrollment was. After about a month, Plaintiff inquired again. He was told it was too late to enroll in the current program and that he would be put on the list. Plaintiff asked for a GED book and was told inmates did not get the book until they were in the program.

         On August 25, 2014, Plaintiff submitted a request indicating he was just checking on the GED classes. ECF No. 34-3 at 7. In response, Sergeant Lara indicated she would talk to Lieutenant Martinez. Id.

         On August 29, 2014, Plaintiff asked that he at least be provided a GED book if he could not get into the GED classes. ECF No. 34-3 at 8. Sergeant Lara stated it was too late for the current class but that Plaintiff was on the list for next time. Id.

         Later that same day, Plaintiff submitted the following request:

I understand that it is now to[o] late for the GED class. I have been asking about the class for better than a month. I was told on 8-2 that the class would start back in 3 weeks at that point. Then I was told on 8-11 that I would be put on the list. Now I[']m told it's to[o] late and I would be put on the list for next time. I just would really appreciate a GED book if there is any extra. I would really like to use my time here to try and better myself rather than just take up space.

         Sergeant Lara responded that Plaintiff was on the list for next time but that the detention center did not control when the teachers came.

         On September 11, 2014, Plaintiff asked when the next GED class would begin. ECF No. 34-3 at 9. Sergeant Monday responded that he was "not sure at this time." Id.

         On September 15, 2014, Plaintiff asked when the next GED class started. ECF No. 34-3 at 10. He was told to send a request to Lieutenant Martinez. Id.

         On September 20, 2014, Plaintiff asked how long it would be until the next GED class. ECF No. 34-3 at 11. He also asked for a GED book. Id. Plaintiff indicated he had been checking the book cart but had no luck obtaining one. Id. Sergeant Sharp responded: "ok."

         On September 25, 2014, Plaintiff stated he had submitted the September 20, 2014 request to the attention of Lieutenant Martinez.[2] ECF No. 34-3 at 12. He pointed out that Officer Sharp had answered "ok, " and Plaintiff stated he did not know what this meant and he had not been given any more information. Id. He asked for more information. Id. Sergeant Monday responded saying that Plaintiff would be considered for the GED class once one started again. Id. Sergeant Monday also indicated that the jail did not supply the GED books to inmates but that Plaintiff could have someone bring him one. Id.

         Plaintiff testified he also asked Deputy Wilkins if there was a GED book on the book cart.

         According to Plaintiff, Deputy Wilkins told him to forget about it because he was not going to get into the GED program because he was a sex offender.

         On October 30, 2014, Plaintiff submitted a request asking about the GED class. ECF No. 34-3 at 13. He was told to submit a request to Lieutenant Martinez. Id.

         On October 31, 2014, Plaintiff submitted a request asking what was "up with the GED classes?" ECF No. 34-3 at 14. He was informed the request would be passed along to Lieutenant Martinez. Id.

         On December 2, 2014, Plaintiff asked if the next GED class was coming up soon. ECF No. 34-3 at 15. He stated he had asked about the program for several months and would like an honest answer. Id. In response, he was told that the program would not start until after the first of the year. Id.

         Plaintiff testified that despite the GED class being offered several times, he was never put into the class. In addition to being in the sex offender pod, Plaintiff testified there were also occasions during his stay at the BCDC when he was on suicide watch and would have been unavailable to take the class. On ...

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