Most significantly, in California, placement in administrative segregation is not totally discretionary as it is in the Hawaii regulatory scheme examined in Sandin. The Sandin Court relied on that total discretion to conclude that Conner's confinement did not exceed the ordinary circumstances of prison life. The present action, like Toussaint and Madrid, is thus distinguishable from Sandin.
However, there is no factual record in the instant case from which it can be determined whether Plaintiff's placement in SHU was a major disruption of the normal prison environment. Neither party had reason to offer proof on this issue. Ordinarily, the Court would give the parties opportunity to do so. However, for the reasons stated below, Plaintiff cannot prevail even if a liberty interest is implicated. Accordingly, the Court will assume for purposes of this opinion that solitary confinement in SHU does differ significantly from the ordinary incidents of prison life in the California prison system.
Assuming that freedom from solitary confinement in SHU meets the threshold test of Sandin, Section 3341.5 appears to create a liberty interest in inmates. The statute employs mandatory substantive criteria to curb official discretion. Prison officials may not retain a prisoner in SHU beyond his MERD absent a threat to prison security or a voluntary request by the inmate to remain in the SHU.
However, assuming that Plaintiff had a liberty interest in release from the SHU, that interest was not infringed by his retention in SHU beyond his scheduled release date of November 18, 1992 and pending his transfer to CMC because the mandatory language in § 3341.5, as well as the requirements of due process, were satisfied by the ICC findings. Section 3341.5(c)(3) provides that "an inmate shall not be retained in SHU beyond the expiration of a determinate term...unless...(B) release of the inmate would severely endanger the lives of inmates or staff, or (C) the inmate has voluntarily requested continued retention in segregation." Cal. Code Regs. Title 15, § 3341.5(c)(3). Both of these exceptions are applicable here.
The Ninth Circuit has found that under the Due Process Clause, findings supporting administrative confinement in segregation may be made at an informal nonadversarial hearing. Toussaint, 801 F.2d at 1100-1. Such a hearing was held by the ICC. Due process does not require representation by counsel, an opportunity to present witnesses or a written decision describing the reasons for retention in administrative segregation. Id.
Judicial review of placement in administrative segregation is severely restricted. Toussaint, 801 F.2d at 1103-1106. Courts must accord wide-ranging deference to prison administrators "in the adoption and execution of policies and practices that in their judgment are needed to preserve internal order and discipline and to maintain institutional security." Id. at 1104, citing Bell v. Wolfish, 441 U.S. 520, 547, 60 L. Ed. 2d 447, 99 S. Ct. 1861 (1979). The Supreme Court's decision in Superintendent v. Hill, 472 U.S. 445, 455, 105 S. Ct. 2768, 86 L. Ed. 2d 356 (1985) indicates that the due process clause requires only the existence of "some evidence" in support of prison administrator's segregation decision. A reviewing court may not reverse the administration's decision if "some evidence" supports the administration's decision. Toussaint, 801 F.2d at 1105-06.
In the instant case, the evaluations of Drs. Wissert and Fulton and Plaintiff's own statement before the ICC at the November 12, 1992 meeting that he did not want to go to the general population and "would do whatever necessary to anyone placed around him, including killing them," Defs' Memo, Exhibit C, constitute sufficient evidence that the ICC's decision to retain Plaintiff in SHU beyond November 18th satisfied the requirements of Section 3341.5(c)(3).
Plaintiff also claims that, after December 17, 1992, when the CSR endorsed the ICC's recommendation that he be transferred to CMF for category "J" evaluation, he should have been "placed in a hospital and cared for by professional people" rather than "kept in solitary confinement 22 hours every day in Pelican Bay." Motion in Opposition to Defendant's Response, p.2. Because an inmate has no liberty interest in transfer, the delay in Plaintiff's transfer to CMF was not a constitutional violation.
Accordingly, the Court GRANTS Defendant's motion for summary judgment regarding retention of Plaintiff in SHU beyond his scheduled release date of November 12, 1992. The Court also GRANTS summary judgment regarding the retention of Plaintiff in administrative segregation pending transfer from December 17, 1992 to February 18, 1993.
IT IS SO ORDERED.
Dated: AUG 21 1995
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
JUDGMENT - August 31, 1995, FILED
For the reasons set forth in the Order Granting Summary Judgment filed August 21, 1995,
IT IS HEREBY ORDERED AND ADJUDGED
That Plaintiff Cleotha Jones take nothing, that the action be dismissed on the merits, and that each party shall bear its own costs.
Dated: AUG 31, 1995
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE