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Stricklin v. Stark

United States District Court, E.D. Arkansas, Pine Bluff Division

May 31, 2019

JOSHUA STRICKLIN, ADC #138119 PLAINTIFF
v.
KENNETH STARK, et al. DEFENDANTS

          RECOMMENDED DISPOSITION

         I. Procedures for Filing Objections

         This Recommended Disposition (Recommendation) has been sent to Chief Judge Brian S. Miller. Any party to this suit may file written objections with the Clerk of Court. To be considered, objections must be filed within 14 days. Objections should be specific and should include the factual or legal basis for the objection.

         If parties do not file objections, they risk waiving the right to appeal questions of fact. And, if no objections are filed, Judge Miller can adopt this Recommendation without independently reviewing the record.

         II. Background

         Mr. Stricklin alleges that Defendants violated his constitutional rights while he was held in punitive isolation at the Cummins Unit of the Arkansas Department of Correction (ADC). (Docket entry #2) Specifically, he alleges that he had no access to television, news, educational services, personal property, air conditioning, or heating while serving his sentence for a disciplinary violation in punitive isolation. (#2) He also alleges that he was held in punitive isolation beyond the time that he was sentenced to serve, from December 21, 2017 until March 23, 2018, [1] and again from June 18, 2018, until August 2, 2018.[2] (#2) In his deposition, Mr. Stricklin alleged that Defendants further violated his rights by failing to provide him with a 48-hour relief period after being housed in punitive isolation for 30 days.[3] (#28-1, p.7)

         Defendants have moved for summary judgment, arguing that Mr. Stricklin has failed to state a constitutional claim; asserting sovereign and qualified immunity; and failure to exhaust administrative remedies regarding the 48-hour relief period. (#27) Mr. Stricklin has not responded, and the time for doing so has passed.

         III. Standard

         Summary judgment means that the court rules in favor of a party without the need for a trial. A moving party is entitled to summary judgment if the evidence, viewed in the light most favorable to the party on the other side of the lawsuit, shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any fact that is important to the outcome of the case. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56; Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322B23 (1986); Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 246 (1986).

         Pursuant to Local District Court Rule 56.1, all material facts set forth in the statement filed by the moving party are deemed admitted unless controverted by a statement of facts filed by the non-moving party. Because Mr. Stricklin failed to respond to the Defendants' motion for summary judgment, the Court deems the Defendants' version of the facts admitted.

         IV. Facts

         Inmates sentenced to punitive isolation are not allowed access to newspapers, magazines, or personal property. (#28-2, p.2) Inmates serving 30 consecutive days in punitive isolation sentences receive a 48-hour period of relief at the end of 30 days, during which the restrictions are lifted. (#28-2, p.2)

         On November 27, 2017, Mr. Stricklin was sentenced to punitive isolation and started serving his time after a disciplinary conviction.[4] (#28-1, p.2) He alleges that he should have been released to general population sometime in December of 2017. (#28-1, p.6) On December 22, 2017, he was assigned to the hoe squad, and his access to newspapers, magazines, and his personal property was restored. (#28-1, pp.4-5; #28-2, p.2) He remained in in punitive isolation, however, until March 23, 2018, due to overcrowding at the Cummins Unit. (#28-1, pp.4-5; #28-2, p.2)

         It is undisputed that Mr. Stricklin did not receive a 48-hour relief period after December 22, 2017. (#28-2, p.2) It is also undisputed, however, that after December 22, 2017, he was no longer subjected to the restrictions normally imposed in isolation. (#28-2, pp.2-3)

         On May 25, 2018, Mr. Stricklin was again admitted to punitive isolation to serve a sentence for a disciplinary conviction. (#28-2, p.3) On June 18, 2018, he was assigned to the hoe squad, and his access to newspapers, magazines, and his personal property was restored. (#28-2, p.3) He remained in punitive isolation until August 3, 2018, due to overcrowding at the Cummins Unit. (#28-2, p.3) It is undisputed that Mr. Stricklin did not receive a 48-hour relief period after June 18, 2018. (#28-2, p.3) It is also undisputed that, although Mr. Stricklin was ...


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