United States District Court, W.D. North Carolina, Statesville Division
D. Whitney Chief United States District Judge
MATTER is before the Court on initial review of
Plaintiff's Complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §
1915(e) and § 1915A. [Doc. 8]. Plaintiff is proceeding
in forma pauperis. [Docs. 2, 7].
Plaintiff Jonathan James Newell (“Plaintiff”) is
an inmate of the State of North Carolina, currently
incarcerated at Warren Correctional Institution in Norlina,
North Carolina. Plaintiff filed the Complaint on review in
this action on July 8, 2019,  pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §
1983, claiming violation of his equal protection rights while
confined at Alexander Correctional Institution. Plaintiff
names Erik A. Hooks, identified as the Secretary of the N.C.
Department of Public Safety (NCDPS), as the sole Defendant in
this matter. [Doc. 8]. Plaintiff alleges that he is a
prisoner sentenced to life without the possibility of parole
and that he is “being denied and deprived [of his]
equal protections compared to prisoners with release dates in
seeking an interstate compact prison transfer to another
state.” [Id. at 1]. Plaintiff alleges that
“other inmates with release dates are able to transfer
to other state prison systems” and his
“rehabilitation and reform” is being hindered
because he cannot be transferred. [Id. at 2].
Plaintiff further alleges that he filed a grievance on the
matter, which was rejected due to it being “allegedly
out of control of the N.C. Department of Public Safety -
Prison Division….” [Id.].
relief, Plaintiff wants to be granted and provided transfer
to a prison system within the state of California, Oregon,
Washington, Guam, New Hampshire, Vermont, or Maine, as well
as other injunctive relief, and compensatory and punitive
damages. [Id. at 3].
STANDARD OF REVIEW
Plaintiff is proceeding in forma pauperis, the Court must
review the Complaint to determine whether it is subject to
dismissal on the grounds that it is “frivolous or
malicious [or] fails to state a claim on which relief may be
granted.” 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2). Furthermore,
§ 1915A requires an initial review of a “complaint
in a civil action in which a prisoner seeks redress from a
governmental entity or officer or employee of a governmental
entity, ” and the court must identify cognizable claims
or dismiss the complaint, or any portion of the complaint, if
the complaint is frivolous, malicious, or fails to state a
claim upon which relief may be granted; or seeks monetary
relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief. In
its frivolity review, this Court must determine whether the
Complaint raises an indisputably meritless legal theory or is
founded upon clearly baseless factual contentions, such as
fantastic or delusional scenarios. Neitzke v.
Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 327-28 (1989).
claims his Fourteenth Amendment right to equal protection of
the law is being violated because, as a prisoner sentenced to
life in prison, he is not eligible for transfer to another
state under the Interstate Corrections Compact.
establish an equal protection violation, Plaintiff first must
demonstrate that he has been treated differently from others
with whom he is similarly situated, and that the unequal
treatment was the result of intentional or purposeful
discrimination. Morrison v. Garraghty, 239 F.3d 648,
654 (4th Cir. 2001). In doing so, the plaintiff must set
forth “specific, non-conclusory factual allegations
that establish an improper [discriminatory] motive.”
Williams v. Hansen, 326 F.3d 569, 584 (4th Cir.
2003) (quoting Trulock v. Freeh, 275 F.3d 391, 405
(4th Cir. 2001)). Here, Plaintiff has not alleged any facts
that he was treated differently from others with whom he is
similarly situated, that is, other prisoners carrying life
terms. Further, Plaintiff has not alleged any facts tending
to show that Defendants participated in any purposeful
discrimination. Thus, Plaintiff fails to state a Fourteenth
Amendment Equal Protection claim and this claim does not
survive initial review.
Plaintiff has no constitutional right to change of his
custodial location by reason of the Interstate Corrections
Compact in any event. “Just as an inmate has no
justifiable expectation that he will be incarcerated in any
particular prison within a state, he has no justifiable
expectation that he will be transferred to any particular
state. Confinement in the state of conviction is within the
normal limits or range of custody which the conviction has
authorized the State to impose.” Wilson v.
Johnson, 805 F.2d 394 (table), 1986 WL 18052, at *1 (4th
Cir. 1986) (citing Olim v. Wakinekona, 461 U.S. 238,
247 (1983) (internal quotations omitted)). See also Ghana
v. Pearce, 159 F.3d 1206, 1209 (9th Cir. 1998) (because
“the Compact is not federal law and does not create a
constitutionally protected liberty interest, ” a
violation of the Compact cannot be the basis for a §
Plaintiff has failed to state a claim of a constitutional
violation against Defendant Hooks. Plaintiffs Complaint,
therefore, will be dismissed.
reasons stated herein, Plaintiffs Complaint is dismissed on
initial review under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e) and ...