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Jackson v. May

United States District Court, D. Delaware

May 10, 2019

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

          MEMORANDUM

         I. INTRODUCTION

         Plaintiff Lily Jackson ("Plaintiff'), 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 Plaintiffs third and fourth motions seeking injunctive relief. (D.I. 38, 41) In her third motion for injunctive relief Plaintiff claims Defendants do not provide inmates Noble Qur'ans, [1] access to properly fitting khimars (i.e., scarves), and proper Muslim services. (D.I. 38) In her fourth motion for injunctive relief, Plaintiff complains that, while participating in the 'Thinking Things Through program," she can overhear Christian church services which is an affront to her religion, and she seeks a court order excusing her participation in the class. (D.I. 41) Plaintiff again requests counsel. (D.I. 37)

         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." Nutra Sweet Co. v. Vit-Mar Enterprises, Inc., 176 F.3d 151, 153 (3d Cir. 1999) ("NutraSweet II"). 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 plaintiff's] favor renders a preliminary injunction inappropriate." Nutra Sweet 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 Goff v. Harper, 60 F.3d 518, 520 (8th Cir. 1995)).

         A. Third Motion for Injunctive Relief

         In her third motion for injunctive relief Plaintiff contends that Defendants do not provide a Noble Qur'an, adequate khimars, and adequate religious services. (D.I. 38) The declaration of BWCI Warden Brian Emig ("Emig") indicates that the BCWI has taken steps to afford inmates opportunities to practice their religion. He states that an open forum was held on August 20, 2018, with the Muslim community at BWCI to discuss their concerns and Plaintiff attended the meeting. (D.I. 42 at ¶ 7) Following the meeting, an order was placed for adult sized head scarves which affixed with a clip and prison officials believed the order addressed concerns about khimars that were previously provided. (Id.) On November 7, 2018, Plaintiff submitted a grievance regarding the khimars, it was resolved by a khimar supplied by the Spiritual Advisor, and Plaintiff indicated she was satisfied with this resolution. (Id. at ¶ 8)

         Emig also states that in a further effort to provide the BWCI Muslim community access to religious clothing of their choice, on April 10, 2019, the commissary ordered "One-Piece Hijab Scarfs" from Amazon.com. (Id. at ¶ 9) Emig states that Plaintiff reviewed the selection prior to placement of the order, approved the selections, and committed to purchasing one. (Id. at ¶ 10)

         Emig states that an Islamic Spiritual Advisor provided religious education for BWCI offenders on January 20, 2019, January 27, 2019, February 3, 2019, February 10, 2019, February 17, 2019, March 3, 2019, March 10, 2019, March 24, 2019, April 7, 2019, and April 14, 2019. (Id. at ¶ 10) The Spiritual Advisor is scheduled to visit BWCI every Sunday to provide Islamic religious education for those offenders who wish to participate. (Id.) Also, BWCI is currently investigating other options to provide Khuthbar or Jumu'ah services at BWCI, which may include a broadcast or televised option. (Id. At ¶ 11)

         Finally, Emig states that Plaintiff has a Qur'an, but has requested the Noble Qur'an and it was not available through the commissary's approved list of vendors. (Id. at ¶ 12) Emig states that BWCI has identified other sources for the Noble Qur'an and recently presented the options to Plaintiff. (Id.) According to Emig, Plaintiff indicated she was pleased with the selections and committed to purchasing one when they arrived. (Id.)

         In light of the declaration of Emig, the Court finds that Plaintiff 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. Therefore, the Court will deny the third motion for injunctive relief. (D.I. 38)

         B. Fourth Motion for Injunctive Relief

         The Court will also deny Plaintiff's fourth motion for injunctive relief that seeks emergency injunctive relief in the form of an order excusing her from attending class because she can overhear a Christian service that take place in an adjoining room. (D.I. 41) As explained to Plaintiff, the class she attends takes place at a designated time and the space is shared. The Court finds that Plaintiff has not demonstrated that she is subject to irreparable harm or that there is a ...


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