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Hall v. Russell

United States District Court, W.D. Virginia, Roanoke Division

November 28, 2018

JOSHUA NEIL HALL, Plaintiff,
v.
BOBBY RUSSELL, ET AL., Defendants.

          Joshua Neil Hall, Pro Se Plaintiff.

          OPINION

          James P. Jones United States District Judge

         Joshua Neil Hall, a Virginia jail inmate proceeding pro se, filed this action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Hall alleges that the defendant state officials wrongfully deprived him of the benefits of a rehabilitation program. I conclude that the action must be summarily dismissed.

         I.

         Hall states that on February 21, 2018, after a hearing in Roanoke County Circuit Court, he was sentenced to a total of seven and a half years in prison. Two and a half years of that joint sentence was for a conviction in the Circuit Court for the City of Salem for embezzlement. At the hearing, the prosecutor allegedly stated that during Hall's pretrial detention, he had refused to participate in a court- ordered rehabilitation opportunity - the Alpha Program. Hall denies that he refused participation in this program.

         According to Hall, after he was incarcerated on May 3, 2017, he voluntarily applied to participate in the Alpha Program, administered by “Blue Ridge Behavioral” (“BRB”). Compl. 3, ECF No. 1. He later learned that in June of 2017, his attorney, with the consent of the prosecution, asked the court to order Hall to complete the Alpha Program, in order to move Hall up on the program's waiting list. The court issued such an order on July 21, 2017, but Hall did not receive notice of it.

         After the sentencing hearing, Hall was returned to the Western Virginia Regional Jail (“Jail”), where he filed request forms asking who had reported to the court that Hall had refused participation in the Alpha Program. Jail officials denied that Jail staff members are involved in any way in the Alpha Program. Hall claims, however, that the Alpha Program is conducted at the Jail, and that when an inmate can enter the program, the Jail must notify the inmate of that fact. Hall also contends that once Jail officials reported to BRB that Hall had refused Alpha Program participation, BRB policy required its staff to investigate and document for the court the reason for his refusal. Hall asserts that no one from BRB ever discussed this matter with him, in violation of BRB policy.

         Hall's § 1983 Complaint sues two Jail officials and a BRB official for allegedly depriving him of his right to participate in the Alpha Program as a means of possibly reducing his term of confinement. As relief, Hall seeks monetary compensation for each of the two and a half years of that sentence.

         II.

         Under 42 U.S.C. § 1997e(c)(1), the court may dismiss a prisoner's civil action concerning prison conditions “if the court is satisfied that the action is frivolous, malicious, [or] fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted.” A viable complaint must allege “enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Giarratano v. Johnson, 521 F.3d 298, 302 (4th Cir. 2008) (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)). Section 1983 permits an aggrieved party to file a civil action against a person for actions taken under color of state law that violated his constitutional rights. See Cooper v. Sheehan, 735 F.3d 153, 158 (4th Cir. 2013). To survive the court's screening under § 19979e(c)(1), “a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (internal quotation marks and citation omitted).

         Hall's Complaint, as a whole, fails to state factual matters sufficient to support any plausible claim against the defendants he has named. For a viable § 1983 claim, “a plaintiff must plead that each Government-official defendant, through the official's own individual actions” has caused a violation of the plaintiff's constitutional rights. Id. at 676. Hall does not describe any action or inaction by the defendants he has named. His allegations do not indicate how any of these individuals was personally involved in the events that led to Hall's inability to participate in the Alpha Program. Accordingly, his Complaint fails to state any actionable § 1983 claim against them.

         Moreover, Hall's allegations do not present an actionable claim that he had a constitutionally protected right to participate in the Alpha Program.

[T]he law is well settled that a prisoner has no constitutional right to participate in an educational or rehabilitative program. See Moody v. Daggett, 429 U.S. 78, 88 at n. 9 (1976) (due process clause not implicated by prisoner classification and eligibility for rehabilitative programs, even where prisoner suffers “grievous loss”); Bulger v. United States Bureau of Prisons, 65 F.3d 48, 49 (5th Cir. 1995) (“Prisoner classification and eligibility for rehabilitation programs. . . are not directly subject to ‘due process' protections”) (citing Moody, supra).

Barksdale v. Green, Civil Action No. DKC-15-1109, 2016 WL 4077713, at *11 (D. Md. Aug. 1, 2016). Because Hall had no constitutional right to a rehabilitative program like Alpha, he cannot hold anyone liable under ยง 1983 for interfering in any ...


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