United States District Court, M.D. Tennessee, Nashville Division
WAVERLY D. CRENSHAW, JR. CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
Plaintiff, Lawrence Ray, is an inmate at the Offender
Re-Entry Center (ORC) in Nashville. He brings this action
pro se pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against R.
Deriggi, a Program Manager at ORC, seeking his immediate
release from custody and damages.
April, 2017, the Plaintiff was arrested by Metro police
officers. (Doc. No. 1 at 2.) He pled guilty to an unspecified
charge. (Id.) Plaintiffs sentence required him to
complete a rehabilitative program known as "New
Avenue". (Id.) "New Avenue is a forty five
day program. (Id.) Upon his arrival at ORC, the
Plaintiff was not placed in the "New Avenue"
program. The Plaintiff filed a grievance and was told that he
was on a waiting list but that there were several others on
the waiting list ahead of him. He was assured that he would
be placed "in the program as quickly as we can."
(Id. at 6.)
Plaintiff has been waiting several weeks to enter the
program. He alleges that others who arrived at ORC after him
have been immediately placed in the program, completed the
program, and have been released from custody. (Id.
at 3.) The Plaintiff claims that "he has been
intentionally treated differently than others similarly
situated without any rational basis for the difference."
(Id. at 1.) He further claims that "he has been
targeted because of the law suite [sic] he has filed."
(Id. at 3.)
establish a claim for § 1983 relief, the Plaintiff must
plead and prove that the defendant, while acting under color
of state law, deprived him of a right guaranteed by the
Constitution or laws of the United States. Parratt v.
Taylor. 451 U.S. 527, 535 (1981).
equal protection claim requires more than a simple showing
that other inmates are being treated differently than the
Plaintiff. Booherv. U.S. Postal Service. 843 F.2d
943, 944 (6th Cir. 1988). Where an equal protection claim
involves neither the denial of a constitutional right nor a
suspect classification, state action allegedly violating
equal protection is reviewed under a rational basis level of
scrutiny. Jackson v. Jamrog, 411 F.3d 615, 618 (6th
Cir. 2005). In this instance, a fundamental right is not
implicated. Rhodes v. Chapman, 452 U.S. 337, 348
(1981) ("We would have to wrench the Eighth Amendment
from its language and history to hold that delay of these
desirable aids to rehabilitation violates the
Constitution."); see also Argue v. Hofmeyer, 80
Fed.Appx. 427, 429 (6th Cir. Oct. 30, 2003) (prisoners have
no constitutional right to rehabilitation, education or
jobs). Nor has the Plaintiff alleged that he is a member of a
suspect class. Michael v. Ghee, 498 F.3d 372, 379
(6th Cir. 2007) (prisoners are not a suspect class);
cert, denied 553 U.S. 1005 (2008). Conduct
that involves neither a fundamental right nor a suspect
classification is accorded a strong presumption of validity.
Heller v. Doe by Doe, 509 U.S. 312, 319 (1993).
rational basis scrutiny, government action amounts to a
constitutional violation only if it "is so unrelated to
the achievement of any combination of legitimate purposes
that the court can only conclude that the government's
actions were irrational." Warren v. City of Athens,
Ohio, 411 F.3d 697, 710 (6th Cir. 2005). The Plaintiff
was placed on a waiting list to enter the "New
Avenue" program. He was informed that the waiting list
was long. Even though other inmates may have been placed in
the program after the Plaintiffs arrival at ORC, it cannot be
said that the defendant has acted irrationally by making the
Plaintiff wait before entering the program. Therefore, the
Plaintiff has failed to state an equal protection claim for
Plaintiff also asserts that he has not been placed in the
program presumably because of the filing of the instant
action. (Doc. No. 1 at 3.) Any adverse action taken against a
prisoner in retaliation for the exercise of a protected right
violates the Constitution. Thaddeus X v. Blatter,
175 F.3d 378, 394 (6th Cir. 1999). It is well settled that a
prisoner has a First Amendment right of access to the courts.
Bounds v. Smith, 430 U.S. 817, 821-23 (1977). In
this instance, though, the Plaintiff was denied immediate
placement in the "New Avenue" program before this
action was ever filed. Therefore, it cannot be said that the
Plaintiff has been retaliated against because of his
Court finds that the allegations in the Complaint do not rise
to the level of a constitutional deprivation. The Plaintiff,
then, is unable to prove every element of a § 1983 cause
of action. Plaintiff, therefore, has failed to state a claim
upon which relief can be granted. Under such circumstances,