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Carawan v. Mitchell

United States District Court, W.D. North Carolina, Charlotte Division

June 21, 2018

WILLIAM CARAWAN, JR., Plaintiff,
v.
FNU MITCHELL, et al., Defendants.

          ORDER

          Frank D. Whitney Chief United States District Judge

         THIS MATTER comes before the Court on a Motion for Summary Judgment by Defendants Takesha Hammond, Jerline Bennett, Darrell Mullis, Patrick Jarman, Randy Mullis, and Ruchia Tillman. (Doc. No. 38).

         I. BACKGROUND

         A. Procedural Background

         Pro se Plaintiff William Carawan, a North Carolina state inmate currently incarcerated at Tabor Correctional Institution, filed this action on July 21, 2016, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleging violations of his rights under the First Amendment and the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (“RLUIPA”), codified as 42 U.S.C. § 2000cc et seq. Plaintiff alleges that, between January 6, 2015, and mid-February 2015, while he was housed at Lanesboro Correctional Institution, he was not permitted to freely practice Islam and earn sentence credits for going to school when Defendants threatened him with an infraction if he missed six one-half day periods. (Doc. No. 1). Plaintiff further alleges that he was not allowed to pray while seated at his desk in class even though it did not cause a distraction during the class, in violation of his federal constitutional rights. Plaintiff requests declaratory and injunctive relief and compensatory damages. (Id.)

         Defendants filed the pending summary judgment motion on March 23, 2018. (Doc. No. 38). Defendants have attached the affidavit of Defendant Takesha Hammond, with attached Exhibits A through J; the affidavit of Defendant Ruchia Tillman; and Defendants' Responses to Plaintiff's First Set of Interrogatories, attached as Exhibit 1. (Doc. No. 40).

         On March 27, 2018, this Court entered an order in accordance with Roseboro v. Garrison, 528 F.2d 309 (4th Cir. 1975), advising Plaintiff of the requirements for filing a response to the summary judgment motion and of the manner in which evidence could be submitted to the Court. (Doc. No. 41). Plaintiff did not respond to the summary judgment motion, and the time to do so has passed.[1] This matter is therefore ripe for disposition.

         B. Factual Background

         1. Plaintiff's Allegations

         Plaintiff's allegations are summarized as follows:

         Plaintiff alleges that his constitutional rights to both earn gain/earned time for going to school and freely practice Islam were denied because Defendants threatened him with an infraction if he missed six, one-half day periods. Plaintiff further alleges that religious services for Muslims at Lanesboro are one hour, from about 1:15 p.m. to 2:15 p.m., only leaving two hours for school, which Defendant Jarmon would not allow. Plaintiff further alleges that he was not allowed to pray while seated at his desk in class even though it did not cause a distraction, in violation of his federal constitutional rights. Plaintiff alleges that these unconstitutional acts occurred between January 6, 2015, and mid-February 2015. (Doc. No. 1 at pp. 2-5).

         2. Defendants' Summary Judgment Materials

         Defendants' summary judgment materials include the pleadings and all attachments and the affidavit of Defendant Takesha Hammond, with attached Exhibits A through J; the affidavit of Defendant Ruchia Tillman; and Defendants' Responses to Plaintiff's First Set of Interrogatories, attached as Exhibit 1. These documents show the following events and circumstances:

         Lanesboro's Standard Operating Procedures (“SOP”) provide written guidance to Lanesboro administrators, chaplains, and correctional staff concerning religious practices and religious paraphernalia. First, Lanesboro's SOP titled “Chaplaincy/Religious Services” provides:

The religious program at Lanesboro Correctional Institution is designed to furnish opportunities for inmates to worship, to receive religious instruction, and to receive spiritual guidance or pastoral care. The program will seek to provide moral, spiritual and social counseling, and ministerial services to the inmates. The program will seek to help men grow into self-respecting and useful citizens. Lanesboro Correctional Institution's Chaplaincy/Religious programs will offer religious services and other opportunities on a regular basis. Religious opportunities include study sessions, regular worship services, books, literature, and a utilization of correspondence ...

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