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— f corrections mci pdf
The Court is here tasked with demarcating the scope of the freedom of free exercise of religion within the confines of the Massachusetts prison system. Foremost among the plaintiffs’ motions is a motion for summary judgment on all counts of the First Amended Complaint 581r “complaint”. Also before the Court coorrections several motions for temporary restraining orders mck and a host of other miscellaneous motions.
The defendants have filed a motion to dismiss the complaint and a cross motion for summary judgment. District Court for the District of Massachusetts, seeking several correctinos of relief for alleged violations of his free exercise of religion. The district court granted summary judgment to the prison defendants, mistakenly believing that the parties had settled Plaintiff LeBaron’s claims.
The case was heard by the First Circuit Court of Appeals, which, on July 22,ruled that Plaintiff LeBaron’s retaliation, equal protection, and conspiracy claims were nevertheless without merit. These claims concerned the defendants’ refusal to provide a synagogue for daily prayer, the ability to engage in group prayer, access to a kosher diet, correctilns certain religious materials.
Other inmates, alleging the same violations, expressed interest in joining the renewed claim. Several developments materialized in the time between the First Circuit’s decision and the instant action, filed on February 27, The significant events included: As time passed, a growing number of inmates joined the CFB.
Similarly, he appointed other inmates to act as church officers. Initially, five plaintiffs filed the first complaint. Correctiosn, many additional inmates joined, and the Court allowed a motion to list all current CFB members on the docket. There are now forty-five plaintiffs. The CFB adheres, in large part, to the precepts of Messianic Judaism, which “is a hybrid religion that includes both Christian and Jewish culture and laws and correctkons from] Orthodox Judaism Its mission includes administering the ministry of “Yeshua” to the imprisoned.
The RSRC is comprised of the Assistant Deputy Commissioner, the Deputy Commissioner of Classification, and the Director of Program Services, and makes global assessments of security concerns that might arise at the prisons if the DOC permits a new religious practice, use of a religious item, or participation in a religious feast.
The plaintiffs submitted numerous religious services requests, primarily concerning access to a Messianic Judaism synagogue, the Holy Diet, and observance of holy days. The Commissioner approved many of the plaintiffs’ requests for access to a kosher diet, but denied their Holy Diet requests. The Commissioner also denied the plaintiffs’ request for synagogue space and certain religious items pending location of a Messianic Jewish volunteer to lead the inmates in corporate worship.
Mco Commissioner denied this request because the chaplain could not assume additional responsibilities on top of his full-time schedule. Plaintiff LeBaron submitted an additional religious services request corrfctions forty-four religious items and books necessary for a Messianic synagogue, creation of a correctios bath known as a mikva, over one hundred different types of food items, and construction of a garden for Messianic Jewish inmates to grow fresh fruits and vegetables.
The Commissioner also denied these requests. On December 18,the Court heard arguments on the plaintiffs’ motion for summary judgment and the defendants’ motions to dismiss and for summary judgment.
The Court took these motions under advisement. While these motions and several of the plaintiffs’ motions for TROs remained pending, the plaintiffs submitted several other motions. These motions are discussed throughout the Court’s discussion. Additional relevant facts are set out in the discussion below, as needed.
When reviewing cross-motions for summary judgment, the Court must assess each motion on its own merits. The fact that both parties have filed motions for summary judgment “does not necessarily mean that an award of summary judgment is appropriate.
City of Cleveland, F. Either party may satisfy its burden of demonstrating the absence of triable issues by submitting affirmative evidence demonstrating entitlement to relief or the opposing party’s lack of entitlementor by demonstrating that the opposing party has no reasonable expectation of proving an essential element of their case.
If one party establishes the absence of a triable issue, the other party must demonstrate, through admissible evidence, an issue of material fact to defeat summary judgment. Neither party may rest on conclusory statements or bare assertions in opposing a motion for summary judgment. The Court’s function is to peer beyond the formal allegations and determine whether further exploration of the facts is necessary.
581f corrections mci pdf
Correcctions, Mass 81, 87 The Court considers, simultaneously with the cross motions for summary judgment, several motions for TROs. In order for the plaintiffs to succeed on these motions, they must show ” mi a likelihood of success on the merits; 2 that irreparable harm will result from denial of the injunction; and 3 that in light of the plaintiffs’ likelihood of success on the merits, the risk of irreparable harm to the plaintiff outweighs the potential harm to the defendant[s] in granting the injunction.
Board of Health of Barnstable, Mass.
The Court will not grant this “significant remedy See also Medina-Claudio v. The Court is in receipt of a motion by the plaintiffs to deem that all members of the CFB have exhausted their administrative remedies. The Court denies this motion. The Court cannot approve the plaintiffs’ motion to declare that all plaintiffs have exhausted their administrative remedies where the plaintiffs readily admit that some have not. Moreover, the affidavit is only signed by Plaintiff LeBaron. However, corrcetions PLRA’s exhaustion requirement is an affirmative defense.
Thus, the burden of establishing non-exhaustion corerctions borne by the defendants. None of the plaintiffs were required to specifically plead or correcctions exhaustion in the complaint. The defendants did not present documentary evidence that these plaintiffs, or any other plaintiffs, failed to pursue their administrative remedies by the date the amended complaint was filed on June 9, The defendants’ reliance on the Mitchell affidavit, without documentation of the named plaintiffs’ failure to exhaust administrative remedies, is determinative.
581g Court is therefore entitled to proceed with an analysis of the merits of this case. The defendants’ cross motion for summary judgment as against Plaintiffs Costa, Eisenman, and Serano on this basis is denied. No government shall impose a substantial burden on the religious exercise of a person residing correctionx or confined to an institution, as defined in section 2 of the Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act 42 U.
To prevail on their RLUIPA claims, the plaintiffs must first establish that the defendants burdened their religious exercise and that the burden was “substantial. If the plaintiffs meet their burden, the burden will shift to the defendants 581r demonstrate that the burden imposed on the plaintiffs furthers a “compelling governmental interest” and that it is the “least restrictive means” of doing so.
The Court, in employing this burden-shifting standard, affords due deference to the defendants’ experience as prison administrators in their role establishing regulations and procedures aimed at fostering order, security, and discipline. Further, the Court remains mindful of the defendants’ limited resources. See Cutter, U. When assessing whether a burden on a particular religious exercise is substantial, the Court nci not consider whether a RLUIPA claimant is able to engage correvtions alternative forms of religious exercise; its focus remains on whether the burden on the specific exercise at issue is substantial.
With respect to what government interests are “compelling,” courts make such determinations on a case-by-case basis. In the prison context, “[a] prison’s interest in order and security is always compelling.
See also Hudson v. However, “merely stating that there is a compelling interest does not fully satisfy the government’s burden on this element of RLUIPA. To prove that they employed the “least restrictive means” of burdening the plaintiffs’ religious exercise in each instance, the defendants must show that they “lack other means of achieving [their] desired goal without [placing] a substantial burden” on the religious exercise.
The defendants cannot rely on conclusory statements that they employed the least restrictive means of achieving their interests “among available, effective alternatives.
American Civil Liberties Union, U. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc. In fact, “[r]equiring a State to demonstrate The Court’s analysis, guided by this well-developed burden-shifting standard, will proceed as to each religious exercise. The plaintiffs’ claims are predicated on the DOC’s prohibition of the following religious exercises: The plaintiffs aver that the lack of access to a designated space to pray and congregate substantially burdens the practice of the CFB faith.
581f corrections mci pdf files
Conversely, the defendants posit that the burden is not substantial because inmates are allowed to engage in prayer, religious study, and read Scripture in their cells. The complaint claims that prayer and study in the cells is plagued by distractions, making such religious practice impractical. The plaintiffs profess that daily “Messianic Synagogue attendance is essential corrwctions meet CFB religious discipleship requirements of central significance to the religious exercise of CFB Members.
See also Farrow v. The defendants cite each inmate’s ability to mcj and study in their respective cells as proof that their religious exercise is not substantially burdened. They do so without addressing the plaintiffs’ contention that gathering for prayer in a Messianic synagogue is a central tenant of the CFB faith.
The correcgions have met their burden of showing that the defendants’ denial of a Messianic synagogue substantially burdens their religious exercise. Claiming a compelling governmental interest, the defendants maintain that the other religious and secular programs available to inmates make it impossible to accommodate the plaintiffs’ requests without infringing on the space available to other inmate groups. The prison also lacks the financial resources to construct a Messianic synagogue on the grounds cirrections the prison.
A host of cases repeatedly emphasize that prison officials’ interests in effective and cost-efficient administration of their facilities are compelling. Lone Star State of Tex. Nevertheless, the logistical and practical administrative concerns cited by the defendants related to affording the plaintiffs a designated Messianic synagogue are significant. The Court, affording the requisite deference to the defendants, finds that the defendants have a compelling interest in an effective resource allocation.
The defendants bear the burden of demonstrating that they considered less restrictive alternatives. To support their position, the defendants only produced the affidavit of Sean Medeiros, Superintendent of MCI-Norfolk, which states that MCI-Norfolk cannot correctikns a room in one of its program buildings for the sole purpose of housing a Messianic synagogue.
It claims that the DOC is left with only one less restrictive alternative to a complete ban on group religious practice—a policy permitting group worship only when a Messianic Judaism volunteer is available. Specifically, the plaintiffs counter that there are empty classrooms in two program buildings that could be designated as synagogue space. They also claim that an empty and unused room in the “CSD building” previously used for urine testing would accommodate a synagogue.
These averments contradict the defendants’ assertions and create a dispute of material fact—whether the defendants have employed the least restrictive means in denying the plaintiffs a designated worship space. Although the defendants have mxi an affidavit that states that the prison does not have the space to accommodate a designated synagogue, in the absence of supporting evidence, the affidavit is conclusory and does not suffice to dissolve the question of fact the plaintiffs’ assertions create.
In order to warrant deference, prison officials must present credible evidence to support their stated penological goals. The defendants have not satisfied this evidentiary showing. Summary judgment for the defendants is therefore denied.
This does not entitle the plaintiffs to summary judgment on this claim, however. There exists a question of fact as to whether there are means available to the defendants less restrictive than the total preclusion of group worship for CFB members. The plaintiffs have not presented unrebutted evidence that there are less restrictive means available to the correctiond to protect their compelling interests.