United States District Court, E.D. Arkansas, Northern Division
following Recommended Disposition
("Recommendation") has been sent to United States
District Judge D.P. Marshall Jr. You may file written
objections to all or part of this Recommendation. If you do
so, those objections must: (1) specifically explain the
factual and/or legal basis for your objection; and (2) be
received by the Clerk of this Court within fourteen (14) days
of the date of this Recommendation. If you do not file
objections, Judge Marshall can adopt this Recommendation
without independently reviewing all of the evidence in the
record. By not objecting, you may waive the right to appeal
questions of fact.
Kymyra Khaliza McDonald ("McDonald”) is a prisoner
in the McPherson Unit of the Arkansas Department of
Correction ("ADC"). She has filed this pro
se § 1983 action alleging that Defendants Warden
Darryl Golden (“Golden”) and ADC Assistant
Director Dexter Payne (“Payne”) violated her
equal protection rights when they denied her request for a
furlough to attend her mother's funeral.Docs. 2 &
have filed a Motion to Dismiss and a Brief in Support.
Docs. 12 & 13. In those papers, Defendants argue
that they are entitled to sovereign and qualified immunity.
McDonald has filed a Response. Doc. 18.
relevant facts, as pled by McDonald, are as
October 2016, McDonald was a Class IV inmate, housed in
punitive isolation at the McPherson Unit. She was on
“minimum” security status, and was a non-violent
offender serving a six-month parole violation sentence.
Doc. 2, at 6; Doc. 7, at 2.
October 15, 2016, McDonald's mother died. Doc. 2, at
October 16, 2016, McDonald was informed of her mother's
death. She submitted an Inmate Request Form, seeking approval
for an “emergency furlough” to attend her
mother's funeral on October 21 in Little Rock. Id. at
18 & 25.
McDonald's family agreed to pay the necessary expenses
for her to attend the funeral. The details were “all
worked out” by the chaplain, the major and mental
health staff, and arrangements were made for the Pulaski
County Sheriff to provide transportation. Id. at
Golden denied McDonald's request for a furlough based on
her “disciplinary history, ” and Golden's
belief that “her mental state was a risk that [might
cause her to] get out and harm [her]self.” Id. at
5, 10 & 18.
October 19, 2016, McDonald filed a grievance because she had
“been denied the opportunity to go to [her]
mother's funeral by Warden Golden … for no
reason.” Id. at 10. On October 26, 2016,
Golden responded to the grievance, stating that her furlough
request had been denied “based on [her] punitive
status, suicide history, mental health and concerns from
Chaplain Lang.” Id. at 12. While Golden
acknowledged that “it is possible other inmates who
have been assigned to Segregation have been allowed to go on
furloughs to family funerals, ” he stated that
“all [such furlough requests] have been reviewed for
the same criteria in order to make a determination for
approval/disapproval.” Id. McDonald appealed.
November 9, 2016, Payne found McDonald's appeal to be
“without merit.” Id. at 13.
the time of McDonald's furlough request, she was not
housed in the unit for mentally unstable prisoners, was on no
mental health medications other than anti-depressants, and
had seen mental health providers only two times. Although she
had been on “suicide watch” one time several
months earlier, she was not on suicide precautions at the
time of her furlough request. Id. at 5, 12 & 20; Doc.
7, at 4 & 12.
According to Chaplain Lang, her “only concern was
[McDonald's] punitive time in segregation” and she
“did [her] best to prepare and arrange all details and
paperwork” to ...