United States District Court, W.D. Virginia, Roanoke Division
JASON R. JORDAN, Plaintiff,
EARL BARKSDALE, et al., Defendants.
Elizabeth K. Dillon United States District Judge
Jason R. Jordan, a Virginia inmate proceeding pro
se, filed this civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C.
§ 1983, alleging that the defendants violated his rights
by placing him in the segregation unit at Red Onion State
Prison (“Red Onion”). Upon review of his
complaint, the court finds that Jordan has failed to state a
claim upon which relief may be granted and, therefore,
dismisses his complaint without prejudice pursuant to 28
U.S.C. § 1915A(b)(1).
alleges that on August 30, 2016, he was transferred from
general population to segregation within Red Onion, after
being charged with lewd or obscene acts directed toward or in
the presence of another. Jordan remained in segregation
awaiting his disciplinary hearing. At the disciplinary
hearing, Jordan was found guilty and a $12 fine was imposed.
Jordan argues that his prehearing detention in segregation
was in violation of Virginia Department of Corrections policy
and unlawful because it amounted to “double
punishment” for his disciplinary conviction. Jordan
states that the approximately two weeks that he spent in
segregation caused him “emotional distress, mental
anguish, personal injuries, and deprivation of [his]
property.” Jordan seeks $25, 000 in damages.
Cruel and Unusual Living Conditions
extent Jordan asserts that his approximately two-week
confinement in the segregation unit constitutes cruel and
unusual living conditions in violation of the Eighth
Amendment, the claim fails. Although the Eighth Amendment
protects prisoners from cruel and unusual living conditions,
an inmate is not entitled to relief simply because of
exposure to uncomfortable, restrictive, or inconvenient
conditions of confinement. “To the extent that such
conditions are restrictive or even harsh, they are part of
the penalty that criminal offenders pay for their offenses
against society.” Rhodes v. Chapman, 452 U.S.
337, 347 (1981); see also In re Long Term Admin.
Segregation of Inmates Designated as Five Percenters,
174 F.3d 464, 471-72 (4th Cir. 1999) (long-term placement in
segregation or maximum custody is not cruel and unusual
punishment). To state a claim of constitutional significance
regarding prison conditions, a plaintiff must allege that the
living conditions violated contemporary standards of decency
and that prison officials were deliberately indifferent to
those conditions. Wilson v. Seiter, 501 U.S. 294
(1991). In addition, a plaintiff must allege facts sufficient
to show either that he has sustained a serious or significant
mental or physical injury as a result of the challenged
conditions or that the conditions have created an
unreasonable risk of serious damage to his future health.
Strickler v. Waters, 989 F.2d 1375, 1380-81 (4th
Cir. 1993); Helling v. McKinney, 509 U.S. 25 (1993).
While being confined in the segregation unit may have been
uncomfortable, restrictive, and inconvenient, Jordan has not
alleged anything to suggest that the conditions violated
contemporary standards of decency or that the defendants were
deliberately indifferent to those conditions. Accordingly,
the court finds that Jordan has failed to state a claim under
the Eighth Amendment.
extent Jordan claims that his confinement in the segregation
unit constitutes a violation of his due process rights under
the Fourteenth Amendment, this claim also fails. To prevail
on a procedural due process claim, an inmate must first
demonstrate that he was deprived of “life, liberty, or
property” by governmental action. Beverati v.
Smith, 120 F.3d 500, 502 (4th Cir. 1997). Although
prisoners are afforded some due process rights while
incarcerated, liberty interests are limited to “freedom
from restraint which, while not exceeding the sentence in
such an unexpected manner as to give rise to protection by
the Due Process Clause of its own force, nonetheless imposes
atypical and significant hardship on the inmate in relation
to the ordinary incidents of prison life.” Sandin
v. Conner, 515 U.S. 472, 484 (1995); see also
Beverati, 120 F.3d at 502 (holding that a six-month term
in segregation did not impose an atypical hardship and,
therefore, implicated no liberty interests when the inmates
alleged that their cells were infested with vermin and
smeared with urine; that no outside recreation was permitted;
that there were no religious services available; and that
food was served in considerably smaller
portions).Changes “in a prisoner['s]
location, variations of daily routine, changes in conditions
of confinement (including administrative segregation), and
the denial of privileges [are] matters which every prisoner
can anticipate [and which] are contemplated by his original
sentence to prison.” Gaston v. Taylor, 946
F.2d 340, 343 (4th Cir. 1991). Further, prisoners do not have
a constitutionally recognized liberty interest in a
particular security classification or a constitutional right
to be confined in a particular prison. Hewitt v.
Helms, 459 U.S. 460, 468 (1983); Meachum v.
Fano, 427 U.S. 215, 224 (1976). The conditions in the
segregation unit at Red Onion may in fact be more restrictive
than those applied to inmates in the general population or at
other facilities; however, Jordan has failed to allege facts
showing that the hardship is so significant or atypical that
he has a liberty interest in remaining out of segregation.
Accordingly, the court finds that Jordan has failed to state
a claim under the Fourteenth Amendment.
stated reasons, Jordan's complaint is dismissed without
prejudice pursuant to § 1915A(b)(1) for failing to state
a claim upon which relief may be granted.
appropriate order will be entered.