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Jackson v. May

United States District Court, D. Delaware

March 26, 2018

LILY JACKSON, Plaintiff,
v.
DEPUTY COMMISSIONER ROBERT MAY, et al., Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM

         I. INTRODUCTION

         The plaintiff Lily Jackson ("Jackson"), a prisoner incarcerated at Baylor Women's Correctional Institution ("BWCI") in New Castle, Delaware, commenced this action on August 8, 2016, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and the Religious Land Use and Incarcerated Persons Act of 2000, 42 U.S.C. § 2000cc, et seq. (D.I. 3.) An amended complaint was filed on June 30, 2017. (D.I. 13).

         II. BACKGROUND

         Pending before the court are Jackson's motions seeking injunctive relief. Jackson complains there is no heat in her building and seeks a transfer to another building. (D.I. 22.) She seeks an order to require BWCI to allow the Islamic Community to participate in Islamic observances during the month of Ramadan, Eid al-Fitr[1] congregational prayer, feast and pilgrimage, and Eid al-Adha[2] congregational prayer and feast. (D.I. 23.) She also claims the defendants do not sell adequate khimars (i.e., scarves). In the same motion, Jackson asks the court to overturn disciplinary findings of guilt, moves to amend the complaint, and requests counsel. The motions are opposed. (D.I. 29.)

         III. DISCUSSION

         A preliminary injunction is "an extraordinary remedy that should be granted only if (1) the plaintiff is likely to succeed on the merits; (2) denial will result in irreparable harm to the plaintiff; (3) granting the injunction will not result in irreparable harm to the defendant; and (4) granting the injunction is in the public interest." NutraSweet Co. v. Vit-Mar Enterprises, Inc., 176 F.3d 151, 153 (3d Cir. 1999) ("NutraSweet IF'). The elements also apply to temporary restraining orders. See NutriSweet Co. v. Vit-Mar Enterprises., Inc., 112 F.3d 689, 693 (3d Cir. 1997) ("NutraSweet I") (a temporary restraining order continued beyond the time permissible under Rule 65 must be treated as a preliminary injunction, and must conform to the standards applicable to preliminary injunctions). "[F]ailure to establish any element in [a plaintiffs] favor renders a preliminary injunction inappropriate." NutraSweet II, 176 F.3d at 153. Furthermore, because of the intractable problems of prison administration, a request for injunctive relief in the prison context must be viewed with considerable caution. Rush v. Correctional Med. Services, Inc., 287 Fed.Appx. 142, 144 (3d Cir. 2008) (unpublished) (citing Goffv. Harper, 60 F.3d 518, 520 (8th Cir. 1995)).

         A. Heat

         With regard to Jackson's complaints of cold temperatures in the building where she is housed, the defendants respond that the cold temperatures were caused by broken boilers. The defendants provide the sworn statement of Warden Shane Troxler ("Troxler") that immediate and appropriate action was taken to ameliorate the conditions by repairing the boilers, installing a temporary heating system while the boilers were being replaced, removing inmates to other parts of the building where the heat was functioning properly, and providing space heaters. (D.I. 29-1.) Troxler further states that the conditions were temporary and the repair of the boilers was completed in mid-January. (Id.) In light of the foregoing, Jackson's motion for injunctive relief on heating issue will be denied as moot. (D.I. 22.)

         B. Religion

         In her second motion for injunctive relief, Jackson seeks an order for BWCI to allow the Islamic Community to participate in Islamic observances during the month of Ramadan, Eid al-Fitr congregational prayer, feast and pilgrimage, and Eid al-Adha congregational prayer and feast. Jackson states that following the lawsuit Fayson v. Earle, Civ. No. 04-219-KAJ (D. Del.), BWCI began to allow Eid prayers and feasts, with the food supplied by Tahsign Ismaa'eel, Directress of Women's Affairs at the North American Islamic Foundation, but this ended in 2017 when Troxler canceled the feast. (D.I. 23 at 1.) In her motion, Jackson indicates that Troxler "said that people meeting Tahsign Ismaa'eel in the BWCI parking lot posed a security risk." (Id.) Jackson states that Troxler did not provide an alternative for the Islamic community to observe the religious holidays, but contradicts the statement by stating that the alternative was the culinary arts program at BWCI that catered to the St. Vincent DePaul Society members, as well as other programs at BWCI. (Id. at 2.)

         Jackson states that after the Eid feast was canceled due to security concerns, a church brought food into the institution for Christian inmates to celebrate Christmas "which completely negates the 'security risk of outside food being brought in' poses." (Id.) Jackson contends that the discontinuation of Eid prayers and feasts violates the First Amendment and is an example of anti-Islamic discrimination. (Id.) Jackson also contends that the defendants do not sell adequate khimars and seeks an order to allow Imam Ahas Waters to provide them. (Id. at 7.)

         As Jackson acknowledges in her motion, prayers for the religious holidays were allowed, but the feast was discontinued due to security concerns that contraband would enter the institution. In addition, Jackson indicates that khimars are sold at the prison, but not the type or style Jackson prefers. In light of the positions of the parties the court finds that, at this juncture, Jackson has not met her burden for injunctive relief. She has not demonstrated that she is subject to irreparable harm or that there is a likelihood of success on the merits.

         C. Disciplinary Findings

         Jackson asks the court to vacate two disciplinary findings of guilt and expunge the findings from her record. (D.I. 23 at 3.) Jackson discusses her displeasure with the charges brought against her, the process, and the sanctions she received. She argues her rights were violated. Preiser v. Rodriguez,411 U.S. 475, 489 (1973) and Heck v. Humphrey,512 U.S. 477, 486-87 (1994), bars this avenue of relief, because Jackson challenges, either directly or indirectly, the ...


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