United States District Court, E.D. Missouri, Eastern Division
GEANARD E. HOWARD Plaintiff,
MATT STURM, TERRY WEBB, UNKNOWN BALLINGER, UNKNOWN HADLEY, CYBELLE WEBBER, TIM BURRIS, and CINDY GRIFFITH, Defendants.
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
STEPHEN N. LIMBAUGH, JR. UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
matter is before the Court upon review of the complaint filed
by plaintiff Geanard E. Howard, a Missouri state inmate who
is currently incarcerated at Farmington Correctional Center
in Farmington, Missouri. After reviewing the complaint, the
Court will dismiss the complaint as to defendants Unknown
Ballinger and Unknown Hadley and will order the Clerk to
issue process or cause process to issue on the remainder of
Standard on Initial Review
28 U.S.C. § 1915A, the Court is required to dismiss a
complaint filed by a prisoner 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 [that are]
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 the reviewing
court to draw on its judicial experience and common sense.
Id. at 679.
reviewing a complaint under 28 U.S.C. § 1915A, the Court
accepts the well-pled facts as true. Furthermore, the Court
liberally construes the allegations.
brings this action to vindicate alleged unconstitutional
censorship involving materials with sexual content. Plaintiff
names as defendants the following prison officials: Matt
Sturm (Deputy Director, Missouri Department of Corrections);
Terry Webb (Censorship Committee, Farmington Correctional
Center (“FCC”)); Unknown Ballinger (Censorship
Committee, South Central Correctional Center
(“SCCC”)); Unknown Hadley (Censorship Committee,
SCCC); Cybelle Webber (Censorship Committee, Tipton
Correctional Center (“TCC”)); Tim Burris
(Censorship Committee, TCC); and Cindy Griffith (Censorship
Committee, Boonville Correctional Center
(“BCC”)). All defendants are named in their
individual and official capacities.
states that on several occasions during his incarceration in
Missouri's various correctional institutions, materials
mailed to him have been censored for sexually explicit
content. Plaintiff complains of several incidents of
censorship while housed at SECC and SCCC in 2012 and 2013.
From 2014 through September 25, 2018, plaintiff's
magazines and reading materials have been censored for
sexually explicit content by officials at TCC, FCC, and BCC.
alleges the censorship of these materials is often arbitrary,
and varies from facility to facility. He cites to Standard
Operation Procedure (“SOP”) 13-1.2 as the
censorship policy at issue, and claims it is overbroad,
vague, and inconsistently applied.
relief, plaintiff seeks an injunction to stop the enforcement
of SOP 13-1.2. He also seeks compensatory damages of $10, 000
and punitive damages of $5, 000 from each defendant.
extent plaintiff complains of censorship at SECC and SCCC
occurring before December 4, 2013, these allegations are
barred by the five-year statute of limitations for bringing
actions under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. See Sulik v. Taney
Cty., Mo., 393 F.3d 765, 766-67 (8th Cir. 2005).
Therefore, the Court will dismiss as time-barred
plaintiff's complaint against defendants Unknown
Ballinger and Unknown Hadley, both of whom plaintiff states
were on the censorship committee of SCCC.
the remainder of plaintiff's claims of censorship of
sexually explicit materials, these claims implicate the First
Amendment. An inmate has the right under the First Amendment
to receive communications and correspondence via mail,
however, that right is not absolute or without exceptions.
“Prison walls do not form a barrier separating prison
inmates from the protections of the Constitution . . .
including those of the First Amendment.” See Sisney
v. Kaemingk, 886 F.3d 692, 697 (8th Cir. 2018) (quoting
Turner v. Safley, 482 U.S. 78, 84 (1987) and
Beard v. Banks, 548 U.S. 521, 528 (2006)) (remanding
to district court to evaluate South Dakota's
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