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Edmonds v. Green

United States District Court, E.D. Missouri, Southeastern Division

May 29, 2019

NICOLE GREEN, Defendant.



         This matter is before the Court upon the application of plaintiff Robert L. Edmonds, a federal pretrial detainee housed at the Dunklin County Jail, to proceed in the district court without prepaying fees or costs. I find that Edmonds does not have sufficient funds to pay the entire filing fee and will waive the filing fee at this time. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(b)(1). Furthermore, after reviewing the complaint, I will partially dismiss the complaint and will order the Clerk to issue process or cause process to be issued on the non-frivolous portions of the complaint.

         28 U.S.C. § 1915(b)(1)

         Edmonds has submitted an application to proceed in the district court without prepaying fees or costs. A review of Edmonds's financial information indicates he is unemployed and his only source of income is his family. His family's contributions to his prison account are sporadic. Although Edmonds has $588.00 in cash or a bank account, he also has $200.00 in credit card debt. Additionally, he has three minor sons who are currently living with his mother. For these reasons, the Court will waive the initial partial filing fee. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(b)(4) (“In no event shall a prisoner be prohibited from bringing a civil action or appealing a civil or criminal judgment for the reason that the prisoner has no assets and no means by which to pay the initial partial filing fee.”). However, Edmonds is not excused from paying the filing fee.[1]The agency having custody of Edmonds will be directed to begin forwarding payments from Edmonds's inmate account, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(b)(2), until the $350.00 filing fee is paid in full.

         Legal Standard on Initial Review

         Under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e), I am required to dismiss a complaint filed in forma pauperis if it is frivolous, malicious, or fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. To state a claim for relief, a complaint must plead more than “legal conclusions” and “[t]hreadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action supported by mere conclusory statements.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). A plaintiff must demonstrate a plausible claim for relief, which is more than a “mere possibility of misconduct.” Id. at 679. “A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Id. at 678. Determining whether a complaint states a plausible claim for relief is a context-specific task that requires me to draw on my judicial experience and common sense. Id. at 679. When reviewing a complaint under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e), I must accept any well-pled facts as true and liberally construe the allegations.

         The Complaint

         Edmonds brings this 28 U.S.C. § 1983 action against defendant Nicole Green, the Jail Administrator of the Dunklin County Jail. Edmonds alleges defendant is violating his constitutional rights by (1) confiscating all inmates' reading materials, and refusing to allow into the jail reading materials from outside vendors, and (2) requiring Edmonds to sleep on an unsanitary bare mat without a sheet to cover it, and only one blanket.

         Edmonds claims that Ms. Green ordered all reading materials to be taken from inmates and refuses to allow any outside books or reading materials to enter the jail. Edmonds states that all books were taken away from inmates because correctional officers had been allowing a particular inmate to sneak tobacco products into the jail through books given to him during visitation. Edmonds states that this inmate has been moved, but the jail still refuses to allow reading materials to enter the jail even from outside vendors. He asserts that books received by inmates from an outside vendor pose no safety or security risk. Edmonds states his mental health has suffered, specifically that he has become distraught and anxious because he cannot occupy his mind without reading materials.

         As for the bare mats, Edmonds alleges the mats are unsanitary and he has suffered from a rash on his lower back and bottom. Also, he states the mats “pose a more serious health risk, ” but does not identify this more serious health risk.

         For relief, Edmonds wants the jail to allow inmates to acquire reading materials. He also seeks “to be given a way to prevent unnecessary contamination from unsanitary conditions as the mat presents.” As to monetary damages, Edmonds seeks $25, 000 for his mental suffering.


         Edmonds's first claim, regarding Ms. Green's prohibition on all reading materials in the jail, implicates the First Amendment. An inmate has the right under the First Amendment to receive communications and correspondence by mail, however, that right is not absolute or without exceptions. An inmate “retains only those First Amendment rights that are not inconsistent with his status as a prisoner or with the legitimate penological objectives of the corrections system.” Leonard v. Nix, 55 F.3d 370, 374 (8th Cir. 1995).

         Prison regulations which impinge upon an inmate's constitutional rights are valid if they are reasonably related to legitimate penological interests. See Thornburgh v. Abbott, 490 U.S. 401, 404 (1989). There are four factors in determining reasonableness of a prison regulation: (1) whether there is “a valid, rational connection between the prison regulation and the legitimate governmental interest put forward to justify it;” (2) “whether there are alternative means of exercising the right that remain open to prison inmates;” (3) “the impact accommodation of the asserted constitutional right will have on guards and other inmates, and on the allocation of prison resources generally;” and (4) ...

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