United States District Court, W.D. Virginia, Roanoke Division
WILLIAM R. COUCH, ET AL., Plaintiffs,
HAROLD CLARKE, ET AL., Defendants.
William R. Couch and Scott M. Boger, Pro Se
Laura Maughan, Assistant Attorney General, Office of the
Attorney General of Virginia, Richmond, Virginia, for
OPINION AND ORDER
P. JONES UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
plaintiffs, William R. Couch and Scott M. Boger, proceeding
pro se, have sued several Virginia Department of Corrections
(“VDOC”) administrators and officials under 42
U.S.C. § 1983 for violation of the First and Fourteenth
Amendments. After review of the record, I conclude that the
defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment must be granted.
times related to the claims in this lawsuit, Couch has been
incarcerated in the Augusta Correctional Center
(“Augusta”). His co-plaintiff, Scott M. Boger, is
now a resident of Vinton, Virginia. According to the
[t]he primary purpose of [their] relationship is to pursue
legal remedies and petition for the redress of grievances
where Couch conducts legal research for Boger to assist him
in filing actions in court to vindicate Boger's legal
rights, and where Boger conducts investigations outside the
prison to enable Couch to vindicate his legal rights.
Additionally, Boger conducts for Couch most of Couch's
financial and business activities outside of the prison.
Compl. ¶ 33, ECF No. 1. The defendants are VDOC Director
Harold Clarke, VDOC Chief of Correctional Operations A. David
Robinson, Augusta Warden John Woodson, and Augusta Operations
Manager Lynn Graham.
events on which the plaintiffs base their claims are
undisputed. In March 2017, Augusta officials distributed a
Memorandum from Warden Woodson about revisions to the
VDOC's Operating Procedure (“OP”) 803.1,
among other things. The Memorandum began:
Over the past year, facility staff has discovered a
substantial amount of contraband entering DOC facilities
through the facility visiting room and the facility mailroom.
A significant portion of this contraband has been drugs. Due
to the increasing amount of contraband entering our
facilities and in order to ensure a high level of safety and
security for all Department of Corrections (DOC) staff,
visitors and offenders, it is essential that the Department
implement additional security measures aimed at detecting and
eliminating contraband in all DOC facilities. Therefore in
response to this growing issue, the following changes will be
Ex. A, ECF No. 1-1. The Memorandum, dated March 13, 2017,
then described changes to policies concerning visitation
security and inmates' incoming correspondence, to take
effect on April 22, 2017.
these changes, OP 803.1 permitted offenders to receive
incoming general correspondence via the mail if it was
processed by the United States Postal Service as weighing one
ounce or less - the equivalent of a First Class Mail item.
Thus, an inmate could receive mailed envelopes each
containing up to five sheets of typical-weight copy paper or
one sheet of paper and six photographs. Per policy, officers
opened and inspected each piece of mail for contraband. If a
mailing passed inspection, officers delivered all of the mail
items to the inmate.
revised edition of OP 803.1 implemented the following
changes, as described in the warden's Memorandum:
1. All Security Level 2 and above
Institutions. All incoming offender general
correspondence to include the envelope at Security Level 2
and above Institutions will [be] photocopied in the
institutional mailroom and a maximum of three black and white
photocopied pages front and back will be provided to the
• The original envelope, letter and all enclosed
contents will be shredded in the institutional mailroom.
Exceptions to this requirement include but are not limited to
official legal, government and court ordered documents such
as military records (i.e. DD214), Court documents (i.e.
divorce decrees, name change orders), etc. Before any action
is taken on these documents, facility management staff must
be consulted. Personal Identification Documents will continue
to be forwarded to the facility Records Office for
• Offenders will be limited to receiving a maximum of
three, 8 ½ X 11, black and white photocopied pages
front and back to include the photocopy of the envelope. Each
item in the envelope i.e., photograph, newspaper clipping,
drawing, each side of a letter, etc. will be considered one
• Enclosed items (photographs, greeting cards, newspaper
articles, etc.) will not be manipulated to print multiple
items on a single photocopied page. Items that exceed the
established size limitation will not be manipulated to fit on
a single or multiple 8 ½ X 11 photocopy pages.
• The entire correspondence and all enclosed items that
exceed the established photocopy or size limit will be
returned to the sender with the Notice of Unauthorized
Correspondence 803F2 advising the sender of the reason
for the return.
Individuals will still be permitted to send offenders secure
messages, photographs, and other attachments through the JPay
system as is currently authorized. Additionally, offender
pictures during visitation will still be permitted in
accordance with Operating Procedure 801.6, Offender
Incoming legal correspondence and special purpose
correspondence will be processed in accordance with the
current procedural requirements as provided in ...