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HRDC v. Baldwin, censorship suit against Illinois DOC, complaint 2018

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Case: 1:18-cv-01136 Document #: 1 Filed: 02/13/18 Page 1 of 45 PageID #:1

IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE
NORTHERN DISTRICT OF ILLINOIS
HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENSE CENTER,

)
)
Plaintiff,
)
)
vs.
)
)
JOHN BALDWIN, in his official and individual )
capacities, DANIEL SULLIVAN, SHELITH
)
HANSBRO, STEPHANIE DORETHY,
)
JACQUELINE LASHBROOK, KIM BUTLER, )
KAREN JAIMET, MICHAEL MELVIN,
)
DAVID RAINS, JEFF DENNISON,
)
DAVID GOMEZ, RANDY PFISTER,
)
MATTHEW SWALLS, CAMERON WATSON, )
STACEY CARTER, BILLY ROSE,
)
DAVID SHEMONIC, PAMELA SCOTT,
)
TYLER BRADLEY, RICK ANDERSON,
)
SHERRY BENTON, BILLIE GREER, and
)
MELISSA PHOENIX, in their individual
)
capacities, and DOES 1-30, in their individual )
capacities.
)
)
Defendants.
)

Case No. 18-1136

JURY TRIAL DEMANDED

COMPLAINT
COMES NOW Plaintiff, HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENSE CENTER, by and through its
counsel, for its Complaint against Defendants John Baldwin, Daniel Sullivan, Shelith Hansbro,
Stephanie Dorethy, Jacqueline Lashbrook, Kim Butler, Karen Jaimet, Michael Melvin, David
Rains, Jeff Dennison, David Gomez, Randy Pfister, Matthew Swalls, Cameron Watson, Stacey
Carter, Billy Rose, David Shemonic, Pamela Scott, Tyler Bradley, Rick Anderson, Sherry Benton,
Billie Greer, Melissa Phoenix, and Does 1-30 (collectively, “Defendants”), states as follows:
I.
1.

INTRODUCTION

The HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENSE CENTER (“HRDC”) brings this action to

enjoin Defendants’ improper censorship of its monthly journal, Prison Legal News, and other

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publications that HRDC sends to prisoners in the Illinois Department of Corrections (“IDOC”), in
violation of the First and Fourteenth Amendments of the United States Constitution.
2.

Defendants have adopted and implemented mail policies and practices prohibiting

delivery of written speech from HRDC while failing to provide due process notice of and an
opportunity to challenge that censorship. Defendants’ actions violate HRDC’s rights under the
First and the Fourteenth Amendments of the United States Constitution. HRDC thus brings this
action, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, seeking injunctive and declaratory relief and damages to be
proven at trial.
II.
3.

JURISDICTION AND VENUE

This action arises under the First and Fourteenth Amendments of the United States

Constitution and is brought pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, which authorizes actions to redress the
deprivation, under color of state law, of rights, privileges, and immunities secured to HRDC by
the laws of the United States.
4.

This Court has subject matter jurisdiction over this action under 28 U.S.C. §§ 1331

and 1343. This Court has jurisdiction over claims seeking declaratory, injunctive, and monetary
relief pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 2201 and 2202, and Rules 57 and 65 of the Federal Rules of Civil
Procedure, against all Defendants.
5.

Venue is proper in this District pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1391(b). On information

and belief, at least one Defendant, Shelith Hansbro, resides within this judicial district, and many
of the events giving rise to the claims asserted herein occurred within this judicial district. On
information and belief, all Defendants are residents of the state of Illinois.
III.
6.

PARTIES

HRDC is a not-for-profit charitable corporation recognized under § 501(c)(3) of the

Internal Revenue Code, with its principal place of business in Lake Worth, Florida. Founded in
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1990, HRDC publishes the monthly newsprint journal Prison Legal News, the longest-running
independent newsprint journal concerning prisons and detention centers in the U.S., as well as
other publications focusing on prisoner rights issues. HRDC also corresponds regularly with
prisoners regarding constitutional issues and potential violations of their civil rights.
7.

Defendant John R. Baldwin (“Baldwin”) is, and at all relevant times herein

mentioned was, the Director of IDOC, the state agency that manages the correctional facilities
within the State of Illinois. Defendant Baldwin has ultimate responsibility for the promulgation
and implementation of IDOC policies, procedures, and practices and for the management of IDOC.
As to all claims presented herein against him, Defendant Baldwin is being sued in his official and
individual capacities for damages, and for injunctive and declaratory relief. At all relevant times,
Defendant Baldwin has acted under color of state law.
8.

Defendant Daniel Q. Sullivan (“Sullivan”) is, and on information and belief at all

relevant times herein mentioned was, the Warden of Big Muddy River Correctional Center (“Big
Muddy”), a prison under the control of IDOC within the State of Illinois. Defendant Sullivan has
responsibility for the execution of IDOC policies, procedures, and practices at Big Muddy,
including the approval of publication censorship decisions. As to all claims presented herein
against him, Defendant Sullivan is being sued in his individual capacity for damages. At all
relevant times, Defendant Sullivan has acted under color of state law.
9.

Defendant Shelith Hansbro (“Hansbro”) is, and on information and belief at all

relevant times herein mentioned was, the Warden of Decatur Correctional Center (“Decatur”), a
prison under the control of IDOC within the State of Illinois. Defendant Hansbro has responsibility
for the execution of IDOC policies, procedures, and practices at Decatur, including the approval
of publication censorship decisions. As to all claims presented herein against him, Defendant

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Hansbro is being sued in his individual capacity for damages. At all relevant times, Defendant
Hansbro has acted under color of state law.
10.

Defendant Stephanie Dorethy (“Dorethy”) is, and on information and belief at all

relevant times herein mentioned was, the Warden of Hill Correctional Center (“Hill”), a prison
under the control of the IDOC within the State of Illinois. Defendant Dorethy has responsibility
for the execution of IDOC policies, procedures, and practices at Hill, including the approval of
publication censorship decisions. As to all claims presented herein against her, Defendant Dorethy
is being sued in her individual capacity for damages. At all relevant times, Defendant Dorethy has
acted under color of state law.
11.

Defendant Jacqueline Lashbrook (“Lashbrook”) is, and on information and belief

at relevant times herein mentioned was, the Warden of Menard Correctional Center (“Menard”), a
prison under the control of IDOC within the State of Illinois. Defendant Lashbrook has
responsibility for the execution of IDOC policies, procedures, and practices at Menard, including
the approval of publication censorship decisions. As to all claims presented herein against her,
Defendant Lashbrook is being sued in her individual capacity for damages. At all relevant times,
Defendant Lashbrook has acted under color of state law.
12.

Defendant Kim Butler (“Butler”) was, on information and belief at relevant times

herein mentioned, the Warden of Menard. Defendant Butler had responsibility for the execution
of IDOC policies, procedures, and practices at Menard, including the approval of publication
censorship decisions. As to all claims presented herein against her, Defendant Butler is being sued
in her individual capacity for damages. At all relevant times, Defendant Butler has acted under
color of state law.
13.

Defendant Karen Jaimet (“Jaimet”) is, and on information and belief at all relevant

times herein mentioned was, the Warden of Pinckneyville Correctional Center (“Pinckneyville”),

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a prison under the control of the IDOC within the State of Illinois. Defendant Jaimet has
responsibility for the execution of IDOC policies, procedures, and practices at Pinckneyville,
including the approval of publication censorship decisions. As to all claims presented herein
against her, Defendant Jaimet is being sued in her individual capacity for damages. At all relevant
times, Defendant Jaimet has acted under color of state law.
14.

Defendant Michael Melvin (“Melvin”) is, and on information and belief at all

relevant times herein mentioned was, the Warden of Pontiac Correctional Center (“Pontiac”), a
prison under the control of IDOC within the State of Illinois. Defendant Melvin has responsibility
for the execution of IDOC policies, procedures, and practices at Pontiac, including the approval of
publication censorship decisions. As to all claims presented herein against him, Defendant Melvin
is being sued in his individual capacity for damages. At all relevant times, Defendant Melvin has
acted under color of state law.
15.

Defendant David Rains (“Rains”) is, and on information and belief at all relevant

times herein mentioned was, the Warden of Robinson Correctional Center (“Robinson”), a prison
under the control of the IDOC within the State of Illinois. Defendant Rains has responsibility for
the execution of IDOC policies, procedures, and practices at Robinson, including the approval of
publication censorship decisions. As to all claims presented herein against him, Defendant Rains
is being sued in his individual capacity for damages. At all relevant times, Defendant Rains has
acted under color of state law.
16.

Defendant Jeff Dennison (“Dennison”) is, and on information and belief at all

relevant times herein mentioned was, the Warden of Shawnee Correctional Center (“Shawnee”),
a prison under the control of the IDOC within the State of Illinois. Defendant Dennison has
responsibility for the execution of IDOC policies, procedures, and practices at Shawnee, including
the approval of publication censorship decisions. As to all claims presented herein against him,

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Defendant Dennison is being sued in his individual capacity for damages. At all relevant times,
Defendant Dennison has acted under color of state law.
17.

Defendant David Gomez (“Gomez”) is, and on information and belief at all relevant

times herein mentioned was, the Warden of Sheridan Correctional Center (“Sheridan”), a prison
under the control of IDOC within the State of Illinois. Defendant Gomez has responsibility for the
execution of IDOC policies, procedures, and practices at Sheridan, including the approval of
publication censorship decisions. As to all claims presented herein against him, Defendant Gomez
is being sued in his individual capacity for damages. At all relevant times, Defendant Gomez has
acted under color of state law.
18.

Defendant Randy Pfister (“Pfister”) is, and on information and belief at all relevant

times herein mentioned was, the Warden of Stateville Correctional Center (“Stateville”), a prison
under the control of the IDOC within the State of Illinois. Defendant Pfister has responsibility for
the execution of IDOC policies, procedures, and practices at Stateville, including the approval of
publication censorship decisions. As to all claims presented herein against him, Defendant Pfister
is being sued in his individual capacity for damages. At all relevant times, Defendant Pfister has
acted under color of state law.
19.

Defendant Matthew Swalls (“Swalls”) is, and on information and belief at all

relevant times herein mentioned was, the Warden of Vienna Correctional Center (“Vienna”), a
prison under the control of the IDOC within the State of Illinois. Defendant Swalls has
responsibility for the execution of IDOC policies, procedures, and practices at Vienna, including
the approval of publication censorship decisions. As to all claims presented herein against him,
Defendant Swalls is being sued in his individual capacity for damages. At all relevant times,
Defendant Swalls has acted under color of state law.

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20.

Defendant Cameron Watson (“Watson”) is, and on information and belief at all

relevant times herein mentioned was, the Warden of Western Illinois Correctional Center
(“Western Illinois”), a prison under the control of IDOC within the State of Illinois. Defendant
Watson has responsibility for the execution of IDOC policies, procedures, and practices at Western
Illinois, including the approval of publication censorship decisions. As to all claims presented
herein against him, Defendant Watson is being sued in his individual capacity for damages. At all
relevant times, Defendant Watson has acted under color of state law.
21.

Defendant Stacey Carter (“Carter”) is, and on information and belief at all relevant

times herein mentioned was, a Publication Review Officer at Decatur. Defendant Carter carried
out IDOC policies, procedures, and practices at Decatur in regards to publication review and
censorship. As to all claims presented herein against her, Defendant Carter is being sued in her
individual capacity for damages. At all relevant times, Defendant Carter has acted under color of
state law.
22.

Defendant Billy Rose (“Rose”) is, and on information and belief at all relevant

times herein mentioned was, a Publication Review Officer at Menard. Defendant Rose carried out
IDOC policies, procedures, and practices at Menard in regards to publication review and
censorship. As to all claims presented herein against him, Defendant Rose is being sued in his
individual capacity for damages. At all relevant times, Defendant Rose has acted under color of
state law.
23.

Defendant David Shemonic (“Shemonic”) is, and on information and belief at all

relevant times herein mentioned was, a Publication Review Officer at Menard. Defendant
Shemonic carried out IDOC policies, procedures, and practices at Menard in regards to publication
review and censorship. As to all claims presented herein against him, Defendant Shemonic is being

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sued in his individual capacity for damages. At all relevant times, Defendant Shemonic has acted
under color of state law.
24.

Defendant Pamela Scott (“Scott”) is, and on information and belief at all relevant

times herein mentioned was, a Publication Review Officer at Menard. Defendant Scott carried out
IDOC policies, procedures, and practices at Menard in regards to publication review and
censorship. As to all claims presented herein against her, Defendant Scott is being sued in her
individual capacity for damages. At all relevant times, Defendant Scott has acted under color of
state law.
25.

Defendant Tyler Bradley (“Bradley”) is, and on information and belief at all

relevant times herein mentioned was, a Publication Review Officer at Menard. Defendant Bradley
carried out IDOC policies, procedures, and practices at Menard in regards to publication review
and censorship. As to all claims presented herein against him, Defendant Bradley is being sued in
his individual capacity for damages. At all relevant times, Defendant Bradley has acted under color
of state law.
26.

Defendant Rick Anderson (“Anderson”) is, and on information and belief at all

relevant times herein mentioned was, a Publication Review Officer at Western Illinois. Defendant
Anderson carried out IDOC policies, procedures, and practices at Western Illinois in regards to
publication review and censorship. As to all claims presented herein against him, Defendant
Anderson is being sued in his individual capacity for damages. At all relevant times, Defendant
Anderson has acted under color of state law.
27.

Defendant Sherry Benton (“Benton”) is, and on information and belief at all

relevant times herein mentioned was, a member of the Administrative Review Board at the IDOC.
Defendant Benton ruled on grievances based on IDOC policies, procedures, and practices at
Menard in regards to publication review and censorship. As to all claims presented herein against

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her, Defendant Benton is being sued in her individual capacity for damages. At all relevant times,
Defendant Benton has acted under color of state law.
28.

Defendant Billie Greer (“Greer”) is, and on information and belief at all relevant

times herein mentioned was, a member of the Administrative Review Board at the IDOC.
Defendant Greer ruled on grievances based on IDOC policies, procedures, and practices at Pontiac
in regards to publication review and censorship. As to all claims presented herein against her,
Defendant Greer is being sued in her individual capacity for damages. At all relevant times,
Defendant Greer has acted under color of state law.
29.

Defendant Melissa Phoenix (“Phoenix”) is, and on information and belief at all

relevant times herein mentioned was, a member of the Administrative Review Board at the IDOC.
Defendant Phoenix ruled on grievances based on IDOC policies, procedures, and practices at
Western Illinois in regards to publication review and censorship. As to all claims presented herein
against her, Defendant Phoenix is being sued in her individual capacity for damages. At all relevant
times, Defendant Phoenix has acted under color of state law.
30.

The true names and identities of Defendants DOES 1 through 30 are presently

unknown to HRDC. Each of Defendants DOES 1 through 30 are or were employed by and are or
were agents of IDOC when some or all of the challenged inmate mail policies and practices were
adopted and/or implemented. Each of Defendants DOES 1 through 30 were personally involved
in the adoption and/or implementation of the mail policies and practices at the IDOC facilities,
and/or were responsible for the hiring, screening, training, retention, supervision, discipline,
counseling, and/or control of IDOC facilities staff who interpret and implement these mail policies.
HRDC will seek to amend this Complaint as soon as the true names and identities of Defendants
DOES 1 through 30 have been ascertained.
IV.

FACTUAL ALLEGATIONS

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A.
31.

HRDC’S MISSION

HRDC publishes and distributes a soft-cover monthly journal titled Prison Legal

News, which contains news and analysis about prisons, jails, and other detention facilities,
prisoners’ rights, court rulings, management of prison facilities, prison conditions, and other
matters pertaining to the rights and/or interests of incarcerated individuals. The monthly journal is
published on newsprint and is 72-pages long.
32.

HRDC also publishes and/or distributes approximately fifty different softcover

books about the criminal justice system, legal reference books, and self-help books of interest to
prisoners. These books are designed to foster a better understanding of criminal justice policies
and to allow prisoners to educate themselves about related issues, such as legal research, how to
write a business letter, health care issues, and similar topics.
33.

For more than 27 years, the focus of HRDC’s mission has been public education,

advocacy, and outreach on behalf of, and for the purpose of assisting, prisoners who seek legal
redress for infringements of their constitutionally guaranteed and other basic human rights.
HRDC’s mission, if realized, has a salutary effect on public safety.
34.

The purpose of HRDC, as stated in its Articles of Incorporation, Article III, Part 6,

is to educate prisoners and the public about the destructive nature of racism, sexism, and the
economic and social costs of prisons to society. HRDC engages in core protected speech and
expressive conduct on matters of public concern, such as the operation of prison facilities, prison
conditions, prisoner health and safety, and prisoners’ rights. HRDC’s monthly journal and other
publications, as described above, contain political speech and social commentary, which are core
First Amendment rights and are entitled to the highest protection afforded by the U.S. Constitution.
35.

HRDC has thousands of subscribers in the United States and abroad, including

prisoners, attorneys, journalists, public libraries, judges, and members of the general public.
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HRDC distributes its monthly publication to prisoners and law librarians in more than 2,600
correctional facilities located across all fifty states, including the Federal Bureau of Prisons and
IDOC.
36.

Prison Legal News is very popular among inmates in Illinois. As of January of

2018, HRDC had 201 subscribers to its monthly publication within the state of Illinois, including:
6 at Big Muddy; 3 at Decatur; 15 at Hill; 36 at Menard; 7 at Pinckneyville; 29 at Pontiac; 3 at
Robinson; 4 at Shawnee; 4 at Sheridan; 24 at Stateville; 1 at Vienna; and 7 at Western Illinois.
Between January of 2016 and January of 2018, the total number of subscribers to Prison Legal
News in Illinois has varied from 179 to 227. Additionally, in furtherance of its mission and to
increase the dissemination of its message, HRDC sends individually addressed sample copies of
its publications to non-subscriber prisoners within IDOC.
B.
37.

CENSORSHIP AT IDOC FACILITIES

The First Amendment of the United States Constitution protects HRDC’s right to

communicate with prisoners who are incarcerated within the IDOC. Regulations, policies, or
practices that restrict the receipt of mail by prisoners are invalid unless they are rationally related
to a legitimate penological interest.
38.

The Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution requires that

publishers receive notice of and be allowed to challenge restrictions on prisoners’ receipt of mail.
Regulations, policies, or practices that do not provide these minimum procedural safeguards are
invalid. Fourteenth Amendment rights are also violated where procedural safeguards are not
followed as applied to a particular publisher.
39.

HRDC is informed and believes and thereon alleges that various prisons within

IDOC’s system do not comply with the First and/or Fourteenth Amendments. HRDC is informed
and believes and thereon alleges that Defendants’ policies and practices have deprived and will
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continue to deprive HRDC of the right to distribute its materials to prisoners, and of notice or
opportunity to appeal when its publications are not delivered to prisoner subscribers.
40.

As described in further detail below, certain prisons within the state of Illinois have

withheld all or part of issues of Prison Legal News, as well as books published and/or distributed
by HRDC. HRDC is informed and thereon believes that, as required by ILAC 525.230(a) and
525.230(d),1 at least one officer at each prison (listed by name or as one of DOES 1-30 above), as
well as the Warden of each prison, had direct knowledge of and were directly involved in each and
every instance of censorship complained of below.
41.

HRDC is aware of at least the following specific examples of improper censorship

and/or lack of notice by prisons within IDOC.
1.
42.

CENSORSHIP AT BIG MUDDY

HRDC is informed and believes and thereon alleges that many of the prisoner

subscribers incarcerated at Big Muddy did not receive complete issues of Prison Legal News on
multiple occasions.
43.

HRDC is informed and believes and thereon alleges that at least four prisoners at

Big Muddy never received the June 2016 or August 2016 issues of Prison Legal News. In addition,
HRDC is informed and believes that at least three prisoners at Big Muddy never received the May
2017, June 2017, July 2017, August 2017, September 2017, and October 2017 issues. Each of
these issues of Prison Legal News were individually addressed and mailed to the subscribers
incarcerated at Big Muddy. HRDC is informed and believes that, although each of those issues

1

ILAC 525.230(a) provides that “A Publication Review Officer, hereafter referred to as Officer,
shall review publications…”
ILAC 525.230(d) provides that “Any recommendation for denial shall be forwarded to the Chief
Administrative Officer with an explanation. If the Chief Administrative Officer concurs with the
recommendation to deny the publication, the publication shall be disapproved.” As used in that
section, Chief Administrative Officer refers to the prison Warden.
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was properly delivered to Big Muddy, the issues were withheld from delivery by staff at the
facility.
44.

HRDC is further informed and believes and thereon alleges that various pages of

the February 2017, March 2017, and April 2017 issues of Prison Legal News were censored by
staff at Big Muddy. HRDC is informed and believes that, for these issues only, Big Muddy issued
a Notification of Unauthorized Items to HRDC’s subscribers. An exemplary copy of the notices
of censorship sent to prisoners at Big Muddy is attached as Exhibit A. In the exemplary notice in
Exhibit A sent an HRDC subscriber, the Notification of Unauthorized Items fails to provide any
substantive basis or explanation for why the pages were censored.
45.

HRDC has never received any notice relating to censorship of any issues at Big

Muddy. HRDC also never received any notification of an opportunity to appeal any censorship
decisions. This censorship of Prison Legal News and the failure of Sullivan and one or more DOES
to provide adequate notice and explanation to HRDC violates HRDC’s First and Fourteenth
Amendment rights, as further detailed below.
2.
46.

CENSORSHIP AT DECATUR

HRDC is informed and believes and thereon alleges that, as of May 2016, Decatur

had imposed a blanket ban against the receipt and distribution of Prison Legal News.
47.

For example, at least one subscriber at Decatur wrote to HRDC in May of 2016 to

notify HRDC that Prison Legal News was not allowed in the facility. That subscriber did not
receive any further issues of the magazine. Another subscriber at Decatur wrote to HRDC in
August of 2016 indicating that she had not received any of the issues of Prison Legal News that
had been sent, including at least the July 2016 and August 2016 issues. That subscriber confirmed
that she had been shown a list of the banned materials at Decatur and that Prison Legal News
appeared on that list.
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48.

At various times in 2016, packages from HRDC sent to subscribers at Decatur were

returned by the U.S. Postal Service because Decatur refused their delivery. In particular, at least
one package containing copies of Prison Legal News was returned from Decatur with a
handwritten marking reading “Banned List” written across the top. An image showing the writing
on this package is attached as Exhibit B. HRDC is aware of at least four packages sent to Decatur
that have been marked “Return to Sender” and were not delivered.
49.

HRDC has received a single letter from Decatur regarding its refusal to deliver the

March 2016 issue of Prison Legal News to a single prisoner, indicating that the publication was
refused because it is on the “IDOC Banned Publication List.” A copy of the notice of censorship
sent to HRDC by Decatur is attached as Exhibit C. Although the March 2016 issue of Prison
Legal News was sent to seven prisoners at Decatur, this is the only notice that HRDC has ever
received from that prison. HRDC has never been informed from any other source that its magazine
is on any “IDOC Banned Publication List,” nor has it been granted the opportunity to appeal any
such decision.
50.

The notice provided to HRDC is insufficient, as it fails to provide sufficient basis

to justify this censorship. This censorship of Prison Legal News and the failure of Hansbro, Carter,
and one or more DOES to provide adequate notice and explanation to HRDC violates HRDC’s
First and Fourteenth Amendment rights, as further detailed below.
3.
51.

CENSORSHIP AT HILL

HRDC is informed and believes and thereon alleges that many of the prisoner

subscribers incarcerated at Hill did not receive at least one issue of Prison Legal News. At least
five subscribers at Hill wrote to HRDC to notify it that they did not receive the August 2017 issue.
52.

HRDC has never received any notice relating to censorship of any issues at Hill.

HRDC also never received any notification of an opportunity to appeal any censorship decisions.
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This censorship of Prison Legal News and the failure of Dorethy and one or more DOES to provide
adequate notice and explanation to HRDC violates HRDC’s First and Fourteenth Amendment
rights, as further detailed below.
4.
53.

CENSORSHIP AT MENARD

HRDC is informed and believes and thereon alleges that Menard has censored and

continues to censor materials of various types that HRDC has sent to prisoners incarcerated at that
facility.
54.

For example, HRDC is informed and believes and thereon alleges that, from July

2016 to September 2017, at least five prisoners incarcerated at Menard did not receive ordered
copies of books published or sold by HRDC that were not and are not included on any lists of
banned publications furnished to HRDC.
55.

HRDC is further informed and believes and thereon alleges that a large number of

the prisoner subscribers incarcerated at Menard did not receive various issues of Prison Legal
News. At least 22 subscribers in Menard wrote to HRDC to notify it that they did not receive the
June 2016 issue, and/or sent HRDC copies of notices they received from Menard informing them
that some or all of the November 2015, June 2016, November 2016, August 2017, and January
2018 issues were being withheld for purportedly violating Menard’s mail policies. HRDC’s
subscribers at Menard never received uncensored versions of these issues of Prison Legal News.
56.

HRDC is informed and believes and thereon alleges that the November 2015, June

2016, November 2016, August 2017, and January 2018 issues of Prison Legal News were censored
by staff at Menard. HRDC is informed and believes that Menard sent notices of censorship relating
to those issues of its publication to various subscribers, an exemplary copy of which is attached as
Exhibit D.

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57.

HRDC also received notices from Menard that the November 2015, June 2016, and

November 2016 issues were being censored. An exemplary copy of these notices is attached as
Exhibit E. HRDC has received no notice from Menard regarding any censorship of publications
after November 2016.
58.

The notices provided to HRDC are insufficient, as they fail to provide sufficient

basis to justify the censorship. The notices to HRDC were additionally insufficient for failing to
provide meaningful opportunity to appeal the decision, as no instructions were provided on how
HRDC could do so. Finally, HRDC has never received notice relating to censorship of the August
2017 and January 2018 issues. This conduct by Lashbrook, Butler, Rose, Shemonic, Scott,
Bradley, Benton, and one or more DOES violates HRDC’s First and Fourteenth Amendment
rights, as further detailed below.
5.
59.

CENSORSHIP AT PINCKNEYVILLE

HRDC is informed and believes and thereon alleges that many of the prisoner

subscribers incarcerated at Pinckneyville did not receive various issues of Prison Legal News. At
least three subscribers at Pinckneyville wrote to HRDC to notify it that they did not receive one or
more of the March 2016, April 2016, August 2016, and October 2016 issues. Each of these issues
of Prison Legal News was properly mailed to the subscriber. HRDC is informed and believes that,
although each of those issues was properly delivered to Pinckneyville, the issues were withheld
from delivery by staff at the facility.2
60.

HRDC has never received any notice relating to censorship of any issues at

Pinckeneyville. HRDC also never received any notification of an opportunity to appeal any

2

In June of 2017, one subscriber received a Cumulative Counseling Summary detailing
numerous grievances against the prison. In this document, Chalene Hale, an administrator at
Pinckneyville, indicated that Prison Legal News was withheld by the prison after a publication
review.
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censorship decisions. This censorship of Prison Legal News and the failure of Jaimet and one or
more DOES to provide adequate notice and explanation to HRDC violates HRDC’s First and
Fourteenth Amendment rights, as further detailed below.
6.
61.

CENSORSHIP AT PONTIAC

HRDC is informed and believes and thereon alleges that, in August 2016, at least

one prisoner subscriber incarcerated at Pontiac did not receive ordered copies of books published
or sold by HRDC that were not and are not included on any lists of banned publications.
62.

HRDC is informed and believes and thereon alleges that many of the prisoner

subscribers incarcerated at Pontiac did not receive various issues of Prison Legal News. At least
11 subscribers at Pontiac wrote to HRDC to notify it that they did not receive one or more of the
November 2016, December 2016, and August 2017 issues, and/or sent HRDC copies of notices
they received from Defendants informing them that some or all of the August 2017 issue was being
withheld for purportedly violating Defendants’ mail policies.
63.

HRDC is informed and believes and thereon alleges that Pontiac sent notices of

censorship to various subscribers for the August 2017 issue of Prison Legal News. An exemplary
copy of the notices of censorship sent to prisoners at Pontiac is attached as Exhibit F.
64.

HRDC has never received any notice relating to censorship of any issues at Pontiac.

HRDC also never received any notification of an opportunity to appeal any censorship decisions.
This censorship of Prison Legal News and the failure of Melvin, Greer, Baldwin, and one or more
DOES to provide adequate notice and explanation to HRDC violates HRDC’s First and Fourteenth
Amendment rights, as further detailed below.
7.
65.

CENSORSHIP AT ROBINSON

HRDC is informed and believes and thereon alleges that many of the prisoner

subscribers incarcerated at Robinson did not receive at least one issue of Prison Legal News. At
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least two subscribers at Robinson wrote to HRDC to notify it that they received the August 2017
issue only after certain pages had been removed.
66.

HRDC is informed and believes that, for the August 2017 issue, Robinson issued a

Notification of Unauthorized Items to HRDC’s subscribers. An exemplary copy of the notices of
censorship sent to prisoners at Robinson is attached as Exhibit G.
67.

HRDC has never received any notice relating to censorship of any issues at

Robinson. HRDC also never received any notification of an opportunity to appeal any censorship
decisions. This censorship of Prison Legal News and the failure of Rains and one or more DOES
to provide adequate notice and explanation to HRDC violates HRDC’s First and Fourteenth
Amendment rights, as further detailed below.
8.
68.

CENSORSHIP AT SHAWNEE

HRDC is informed and believes and thereon alleges that one of the prisoner

subscribers incarcerated at Shawnee did not receive all of least one issue of Prison Legal News.
At least one subscriber at Shawnee wrote to Plaintiff to notify it that he received the August 2017
issue only after certain pages had been removed.
69.

HRDC is informed and believes that, for the August 2017 issue, officials at

Shawnee told HRDC’s subscriber that certain pages of the August 2017 issue were censored.
70.

HRDC has never received any notice relating to censorship of any issues at

Shawnee. HRDC also never received any notification of an opportunity to appeal any censorship
decisions. This censorship of Prison Legal News and the failure of Dennison and one or more
DOES to provide adequate notice and explanation to HRDC violates HRDC’s First and Fourteenth
Amendment rights, as further detailed below.
9.

CENSORSHIP AT SHERIDAN

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71.

HRDC is informed and believes and thereon alleges that prisoners incarcerated at

Sheridan are not permitted to subscribe to Prison Legal News. In particular, at least one would-be
subscriber at Sheridan has informed HRDC that he is not permitted by staff to subscribe to the
publication.
72.

HRDC has never received any notice from Sheridan that any of its publications

were not permitted to be subscribed to at Sheridan. HRDC also never received any notification of
an opportunity to appeal any censorship decisions. The failure of Gomez and one or more DOES
to provide adequate notice and explanation to HRDC violates HRDC’s First and Fourteenth
Amendment rights, as further detailed below.
10.
73.

CENSORSHIP AT STATEVILLE

HRDC is informed and believes and thereon alleges that many of the prisoner

subscribers incarcerated at Stateville did not receive at least one issue of Prison Legal News. At
least three subscribers at Stateville wrote to HRDC to notify it that they received the August 2017
issue only after certain pages had been removed.
74.

HRDC is informed and believes that, for the August 2017 issue, Stateville issued a

Notification of Unauthorized Items to HRDC’s subscribers. An exemplary copy of the notices of
censorship sent to prisoners at Stateville is attached as Exhibit H.
75.

HRDC has never received any notice relating to censorship of any issues at

Stateville. HRDC also never received any notification of an opportunity to appeal any censorship
decisions. This censorship of Prison Legal News and the failure of Pfister and one or more DOES
to provide adequate notice and explanation to HRDC violates HRDC’s First and Fourteenth
Amendment rights, as further detailed below.
11.

CENSORSHIP AT VIENNA

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76.

HRDC received notice from Vienna that the January 2017 issue was being

censored. A copy of this notice is attached as Exhibit I. HRDC has received no notice from
Vienna regarding any censorship of publications after January 2017.
77.

The notice provided to HRDC is insufficient, as it fails to provide sufficient basis

to justify this censorship. This censorship of Prison Legal News and the failure of Swalls and one
or more DOES to provide adequate notice and explanation to HRDC violates HRDC’s First and
Fourteenth Amendment rights, as further detailed below.
12.
78.

CENSORSHIP AT WESTERN ILLINOIS

HRDC is informed and believes and thereon alleges that many of the prisoner

subscribers incarcerated at Western Illinois did not receive various issues of Prison Legal News.
At least five subscribers at Western Illinois wrote to HRDC to notify it that they did not receive
the June 2016, July 2016, and August 2016 issues, and/or sent HRDC copies of notices they
received from Defendants informing them that some or all of the June 2016, July 2016, and August
2016 issues were being withheld for purportedly violating Defendants’ mail policies.
79.

HRDC is informed and believes and thereon alleges that the June 2016, July 2016,

and August 2016 issues of Prison Legal News were censored by staff at Western Illinois. An
exemplary copy of the notices of censorship sent to prisoners at Western Illinois is attached as
Exhibit J. In each case, the Notification of Unauthorized Mail fails to explain why the pages are
being censored.
80.

HRDC has never received any notice from Western Illinois that any issues of its

magazine or any other materials were being censored and subject to review. Specifically, HRDC
never received any notice that the June 2016, July 2016, and August 2016 issues, or any pages in
them, would not be delivered or was not delivered to the addressed recipients. HRDC also never
received any notification of an opportunity to appeal any censorship decisions.
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81.

HRDC has never received any notice relating to censorship of any issues at Western

Illinois. HRDC also never received any notification of an opportunity to appeal any censorship
decisions. This censorship of Prison Legal News and the failure of Watson, Anderson, Phoenix,
and one or more DOES to provide adequate notice and explanation to HRDC violates HRDC’s
First and Fourteenth Amendment rights, as further detailed below.
* * * *
82.

In adopting and implementing the above censorship policies and practices,

Defendants have knowingly violated, continue to violate, and are reasonably expected to violate
in the future, HRDC’s constitutional rights, and have caused HRDC serious and irreparable harm
including, but not limited to: suppression of its political message, frustration of its organizational
mission, loss of its ability to recruit new supporters, subscribers, and writers, loss of subscriptions,
loss of opportunities for purchases and sales of its publications, loss of opportunities for book
sales, and diversion of its resources. Absent intervention by this Court these actions will continue
and HRDC will be subjected continuation of the same irreparable and serious injuries.
83.

The above violations of HRDC’s rights and the harms to HRDC were caused by

mail and censorship policies adopted or approved by Defendant Baldwin in his capacity as head
of IDOC.
84.

The individual Defendants named herein are responsible for, or personally

participated in, creating and implementing these unconstitutional mail and censorship policies,
practices, and customs, and for training and supervising the mail staff at the various IDOC facilities
who carry out these policies and whose conduct has injured and continues to injure HRDC.
85.

Defendants’ unconstitutional policy, practices, and customs are ongoing and

continue to violate HRDC’s rights, and as such HRDC has no adequate remedy at law.

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86.

HRDC is entitled to injunctive relief requiring Baldwin to prohibit Defendants from

refusing to deliver or refusing to allow delivery of publications, books, informational brochures,
and catalogs, and other correspondence from HRDC, and prohibiting Defendants from censoring
mail without due process of law.
87.

As a result of the foregoing, HRDC seeks compensatory and punitive damages

against the individual Defendants.
COUNT I: Violation of the First Amendment (Censorship)-42 U.S.C. § 1983
88.

HRDC re-alleges and incorporates by reference herein all of the allegations

contained in the above paragraphs.
89.

The acts described above constitute violations of HRDC’s rights under the First

Amendment of the United States Constitution.
90.

HRDC has a constitutionally protected liberty interest in communicating with

incarcerated individuals, a right clearly established under existing case law.
91.

The conduct of Defendants was objectively unreasonable and was undertaken

intentionally with malice, willfulness, and reckless indifference.
92.

HRDC’s injuries and the violations of its constitutional rights were directly and

proximately caused by the policies and practices of Defendants, which were and are the moving
force of the violations.
93.

Defendants’ acts described above have caused damages to HRDC, and if not

enjoined, will continue to cause damage to HRDC.
94.

HRDC seeks injunctive relief against John Baldwin in his official capacity, and

nominal and compensatory damages against all Defendants. HRDC seeks punitive damages
against the individual Defendants in their individual capacities.
COUNT II: Violation of the Fourteenth Amendment (Due Process)-42 U.S.C. § 1983
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95.

HRDC re-alleges and incorporates by reference herein all of the allegations

contained in the above paragraphs.
96.

The acts described above constitute violations of HRDC’s rights under the

Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution.
97.

Because HRDC has a liberty interest in communicating with prisoners, HRDC has

a right under the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to receive notice of and an
opportunity to appeal Defendants’ decisions to censor their written speech.
98.

Defendants’ policies and practices fail to provide HRDC with adequate notice and

an opportunity to be heard.
99.

The conduct of Defendants was objectively unreasonable and was undertaken

intentionally with malice, willfulness, and reckless indifference.
100.

HRDC’s injuries and the violations of its constitutional rights were directly and

proximately caused by the policies and practices of Defendants, which are and were the moving
force of the violations.
101.

Defendants’ acts described above have caused damages to HRDC, and if not

enjoined, will continue to cause damage to HRDC.
102.

HRDC seeks injunctive relief against John Baldwin in his official capacity, and

nominal and compensatory damages against all Defendants. HRDC seeks punitive damages
against the individual Defendants in their individual capacities.
V.

RELIEF REQUESTED

WHEREFORE, HRDC respectfully requests judgment against Defendants, jointly and
severally, for the following:
A.

A declaration that Defendants’ policies and practices violate the
Constitution;
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B.

A preliminary and permanent injunction requiring Baldwin to prohibit
Defendants from continuing to violate the Constitution, and providing
other equitable relief;

C.

An award of compensatory, punitive, and nominal damages;

D.

An award of full costs and attorneys’ fees arising out of this litigation; and

E.

Any and other further relief this Court may deem just and appropriate.
VI.

DEMAND FOR JURY

Pursuant to Rule 38(b) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, HRDC hereby demands a
trial by jury in this action of all issues so triable.
Dated: February 13, 2018

Respectfully submitted,
s/ Marc N. Zubick
Marc N. Zubick, Ill. Bar No.: 6308239
Marc.zubick@lw.com
Jason Greenhut, Ill. Bar. No. 6323323
jason.greenhut@lw.com
Sarah W. Wang, Ill. Bar No.: 6322872
Sarah.wang@lw.com
LATHAM & WATKINS LLP
330 North Wabash Ave, Suite 2800
Chicago, Illinois 60611
Tel: (312) 876-7700
Fax: (312) 993-9767
Attorneys for Plaintiff
s/ Alan Mills (with consent)
Alan Mills
alan@uplcchicago.org
Nicole Schult
Nicole@uplcchicago.org
UPTOWN PEOPLE’S LAW CENTER
4413 North Sheridan
Chicago, Illinois 60640
Tel: (773) 769-1411
Fax: (773) 769-2224
E-mail: alan@uplcchicago.org
Attorneys for Plaintiff

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/s/ Sabarish Neelakanta
Sabarish Neelakanta, Fla. Bar No.: 26623*
sneelakanta@hrdc-law.org
Masimba Mutamba, Fla. Bar No.: 102772*
mmutamba@hrdc-law.org
Daniel Marshall, Fla. Bar No.: 617210*
dmarshall@hrdc-law.org
HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENSE CENTER
P.O. Box 1151
Lake Worth, FL 33460
Tel.: (561) 360-2523
Fax: (866) 735-7136
Attorneys for Plaintiff
*pro hac vice applications to be filed

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EXHIBIT A

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EXHIBIT B

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EXHIBIT C

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EXHIBIT D

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EXHIBIT E

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EXHIBIT F

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EXHIBIT G

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EXHIBIT H

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EXHIBIT I

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EXHIBIT J

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Prisoner Education Guide side

 

Federal Prison Handbook

 

Prisoner Education Guide side

 

Federal Prison Handbook
Disciplinary Self-Help Litigation Manual