United States District Court, D. Arizona
Amin Abd. Rahman Shakur, Plaintiff,
Charles L. Ryan, et al., Defendants.
HONORABLE CINDY K. JORGENSON UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
Amin Abd. Rahman Shakur ('Shakur") has filed an
Amended Complaint. The Court will order Defendants Ryan and
Herman to answer Counts One and Two of the Amended Complaint,
will order Defendant Ryan to answer Count Four of the Amended
Complaint, and will dismiss the remaining claims and
Defendants without prejudice. A Motion for Status (Doc. 10)
is also pending before the Court.
Statutory Screening of Prisoner Complaints
Court has previously advised Shakur, the Court is required to
screen complaints brought by prisoners seeking relief against
a governmental entity or an officer or an employee of a
governmental entity. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a). The Court
must dismiss a complaint or portion thereof if a plaintiff
has raised claims that are legally frivolous or malicious,
that fail to state a claim upon which relief may be granted,
or that seek monetary relief from a defendant who is immune
from such relief. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b)(1)-(2).
four-count Amended Complaint, Shakur asserts that his rights
under the Eighth Amendment, the First Amendment's Free
Exercise and Establishment Clauses, the Fourteenth
Amendment's Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses, and
the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act
(RLUIPA) are being violated. He names Arizona Department of
Corrections (ADC) Director Charles L. Ryan, ADC Pastoral
Administrator Kenneth Herman, Corizon Healthcare Inc., and
Nurse Practitioner Carol Holmden as Defendants.
Count One, Plaintiff alleges that his rights under RLUIPA,
the First Amendment's Free Exercise and Establishment
Clauses, and the Fourteenth Amendment's Equal Protection
Clause were violated when Defendants Ryan and Herman denied
his request for a halal diet. Although Shakur has been
receiving a kosher diet, he is being subjected to mental,
physical and spiritual hardship by the interference with his
sincerely held religious beliefs and practices. Shakur
asserts that, by refusing to offer a halal diet, Defendants
Ryan and Herman are favoring Jewish prisoners over Muslims by
allowing them to practice their religious dietary law. Shakur
also asserts he is subject to the authority and
decision-making of a Jewish rabbi who is offended that
Muslims receive a kosher diet.
Count Two, Shakur asserts that Defendants Ryan and Herman are
violating his rights under RLUIPA, the First Amendment's
Free Exercise and Establishment Clauses, and the Fourteenth
Amendment's Equal Protection Clause by failing to provide
hot food trays to Muslim prisoners during Ramadan, a
month-long holiday observed by fasting from sun-up to
sundown. Shakur asserts that general population inmates
receive 62 hot meals in a 30 day period, while Muslims only
receive eight. Shakur asserts this discriminatory policy
mentally and physically affects him and interferes with his
sincerely held religious beliefs. Shakur states this is
blatant discrimination, especially as compared to Jewish
prisoners whose holidays and religious observances are
recognized to provide special foods.
Count Three, Shakur alleges that he has received inadequate
medical care in violation of the First Amendment's Free
Exercise and Establishment Clauses and the Eighth Amendment.
Shakur alleges he began to experience testicular pain in
April or May of 2017 and he submitted a Health Needs Request
("HNR"). After being examined by Holmden, Holmden
informed Shakur that it was probably caused by too much
masturbation. Shakur found the remark to be inappropriate,
unprofessional, and offensive. Shakur subsequently requested
he be provided an examination performed by a male provider as
being evaluated by a female provider is against his religion.
Defendants informed Shakur a female provider is sufficient;
Shakur was also informed that Corizon does not weigh
religious beliefs in the treatment of prisoners. However,
Defendants also asked Shakur to provide documentation, which
Shakur provided. Upon Shakur's notification to the unit
administrator of Holmden's remarks, the prison
administration informed Shakur that it agreed the remarks
were inappropriate and it would confer with the Healthcare
Administrator; Shakur alleges the Healthcare Administrator
did not take any action.
again complained of continued pain and discomfort and was
subsequently examined by a male doctor, who recommended
Shakur see a urologist. This recommendation was initially
denied, but subsequently approved. Shakur later learned the
medical director noted a hernia, of which he had not informed
Shakur. Several months later, Shakur was taken to
a urologist and prescribed medication and an athletic
supporter; Shakur was to have a follow-up appointment after
three months. Shakur alleges the medication has been
ineffective and, although Shakur has notified Defendants that
he is still experiencing pain and a nurse practitioner
continues to make consult requests, Defendants have not
provided follow-up care. Additionally, Shakur has not been
provided with an athletic supporter.
alleges Corizon has a pattern of abuse and has an ongoing
policy and custom of denying specialist/recommended care,
which amounts to deliberate indifference. Shakur also alleges
that, despite a contract with Corizon, Defendant Ryan is
aware of ongoing problems with Corizon and is ultimately
responsible for Shakur's care and treatment.
Count Four, Shakur alleges the ADC has established a Security
Threat Group ("STG") policy in an attempt to
control prison gang activity. Shakur has been validated as a
member of STG Mau Mau. Shakur denies he is a member of Mau
Mau or any other gang. Although Mau Mau has since been
decertified as an STG, Shakur continues to be considered as a
validated member of Mau Mau and is subject to the same
restrictions as a validated member of a certified STG. For
example, Shakur's ability to obtain jobs, visitations,
and an early release date is restricted due to his validated
status. While Shakur has completed a step down program, which
has permitted his transfer from maximum custody to a close
custody unit, ADC does not have a means for Shakur to
completely remove the validation regarding the now
de-certified Mau Mau gang other than provide information
(i.e., snitch). Shakur asserts he is subject to greater
restrictions than those prisoners who are validated members
of informal (non-certified) STG's. Shakur alleges ADC has
not certified another African group and uses Mau Mau as a
means to provide statistical racial representation. Shakur
disputes ADC's stated reason that removal of the
validation will permit recruitment and the resurrection of
Mau Mau is not valid as Shakur is permitted to be housed with
other general population prisoners who are not validated as
members of an STG.
Civil Rights Claims
prevail in a § 1983 claim, a plaintiff must show that
(1) acts by the defendants (2) under color of state law (3)
deprived him of federal rights, privileges or immunities and
(4) caused him damage. Thornton v. City of St.
Helens, 425 F.3d 1158, 1163-64 (9th Cir. 2005) (quoting
Shoshone-Bannock Tribes v. Idaho Fish & Game Comm
'n, 42 F.3d 1278, 1284 (9th Cir. 1994)). In
addition, a plaintiff must allege that he suffered a specific
injury as a result of the conduct of a particular defendant
and he must allege an affirmative link between the injury and
the conduct of that defendant. Rizzo v. Goode, 423
U.S. 362, 371-72, 377 (1976).
Counts One and Two
Free Exercise Clause/RLUIPA
order to state a First Amendment, free-exercise claim, a
plaintiff must allege that a defendant "substantially
burdened" the practice of his religion by preventing him
from engaging in a sincerely held religious belief and that
the defendant did so without any justification reasonably
related to legitimate penological interests. Shakur v.
Schriro, 514 F.3d 878, 884-85 (9th Cir. 2008).
Similarly, a plaintiff proceeding under RLUIPA bears the
initial burden of demonstrating a prima facie claim that the
challenged state action constitutes a substantial burden on
the exercise of his religious beliefs. Warsoldier v.
Woodford, 418 F.3d 989, 994 (9th Cir. 2005).
free-exercise and RLUIPA substantial burden tests are
analyzed under the same jurisprudential framework. See
Int'l Church of Foursquare Gospel v. City of San
Leandro, 673 F.3d 1059, 1067 (9th Cir. 2011)
("Generally, the term 'substantial burden' in
RLUIPA is construed in light of federal Supreme Court and
appellate jurisprudence involving the Free Exercise Clause of
the First Amendment prior to the Court's decision in
Emp't Div. Dep 't of Human Res. of Oregon v.
Smith, 494 U.S. 872, 878-82 (1990)); Guru Nanak Sikh
Soc. of Yuba City v. Cty. of Sutter, 456 F.3d 978, 988
(9th Cir. 2006) ("The Supreme Court's free exercise
jurisprudence is instructive in defining a substantial burden
under RLUIPA.") A substantial burden is one that is
"'oppressive' to a 'significantly great'
extent. That is, a 'substantial burden' on
'religious exercise' must impose a significantly
great restriction or onus upon such exercise."
Warsoldier, 418 F.3d at 995 (quoting San Jose
Christian Coll. v. City of Morgan Hill, 360 F.3d 1024,
1034 (9th Cir. 2004)). A substantial burden is "more
than an inconvenience; the burden must be substantial and an
interference with a tenet or belief that is central to
religious doctrine." United States v. Turnbull,
888 F.2d 636, 639 (9th Cir. 1989) (internal citation
has failed to state a claim under the Free Exercise Clause of
the First Amendment or RLUIPA because he has not sufficiently
alleged that the lack of a halal diet and hot meals during
Ramadan impose a substantial burden on his religious
practice. Shakur does not claim that the kosher diet he is
receiving fails to conform to the dietary requirements of
Islam. See e.g. Smith v. Cty. of Nassau, No.
12-CV-4344 SJF GRB, 2014 WL 2862849, at *5 (E.D.N.Y. June 18,
2014) (citing Perez v. Westchester Cnty. Dep't of
Corr., 587 F.3d 143, 144 n. 1 (2d Cir. 2009)
("Halal and Kosher standards may not be identical, but
the standards used to prepare a Kosher meal also satisfy the
Halal standards because the former is more
restrictive."). Further, Shakur does not identify any
diet-related disputes that were resolved or would have been
subject to resolution by a rabbi. With regard to the
temporary deprivation of hot meals during Ramadan, Shakur
does not allege any facts to show that this condition amounts
to anything more than an inconvenience. Accordingly, Counts
One and Two will be dismissed insofar as Plaintiff has
alleged a violation of the Free Exercise Clause and RLUIPA.
construed, Shakur has stated claims against Defendants Ryan
and Herman under the ...