The claim is based on allegations that claimant was confined to the Special
Housing Unit at Great Meadow Correctional Facility for seven days and then
transferred to Clinton Correctional Facility and placed in long term keeplock
for three days all without justification.
According to Claimant, on June 21, 2000 his cell at Great Meadow Correctional
Facility was searched and he was found to be in possession of a television
belonging to another inmate. An inmate misbehavior report was written and
following a disciplinary hearing a penalty of seven days keeplock was imposed.
Claimant was to be released from keeplock on June 28, 2000. However, on that
day he was moved to the Special Housing Unit where he remained until July 4,
2000 when he was transferred to Clinton Correctional Facility. Upon arriving at
Clinton he was placed in long term keeplock but was released three days later to
Sergeant Lawrence Feola testified that he had claimant placed in the Special
Housing Unit pending a determination as to whether claimant should be placed in
protective custody. According to Sergeant Feola, the initial decision to send an
inmate to protective custody is a discretionary determination made by
In carrying out their duties relating to security and discipline, the actions
of correction employees are quasi-judicial in nature and are cloaked with
absolute immunity so long as the actions are not taken beyond their authority
or in violation of the governing rules and regulations (
Arteaga v State of New York
, 72 NY2d 212, 220).
A copy of the report made by Sergeant Feola in which he recommended that
claimant be placed in involuntary protective custody was put into evidence. In
the report Sergeant Feola notes that recently there had been fights in the block
where claimant was housed. The Sergeant wrote that the fights might be related
to unauthorized exchanges of property made as payment for drugs or other
nefarious activity. Because claimant had been found to be in possession of a
television belonging to another inmate, the Sergeant felt that claimant's safety
could be in jeopardy. Consequently, he recommended protective custody.
The regulations governing confinement of inmates provide that an officer may
confine an inmate where there are reasonable grounds to believe that there is an
immediate threat to the safety, security or order of the facility or an
immediate danger to other persons or to property (7 NYCRR §251-1.6). The
regulations also provide that when an inmate is placed in involuntary protective
custody a hearing must be held within 14 days to determine the need for
protective custody detention (7 NYCRR §330.3[b]).
The regulations, therefore, support Sergeant Feola's assertion that he has the
discretionary authority to place claimant in protective custody. However, in
instances where an inmate is placed in a Special Housing Unit, as claimant was,
the regulations require that the employee making the determination to do so
report that fact, in writing, to the superintendent, as soon as possible, but
in any event before going off duty (7 NYCRR §251-1.6[e]). The report by
Sergeant Feola requesting involuntary protective custody for claimant was not
written until July 2, 2000 and there is no proof that the superintendent was
otherwise advised that claimant had been confined. Thus, claimant's confinement
in the Special Housing Unit from June 28, 2000 through July 4, 2000 was done in
violation of the governing regulations.
Claimant is awarded $40.00 for his seven day confinement.
ORDERED that to the extent Claimant has paid a filing fee, it may be
recovered pursuant to Court of Claims Act section 11-a(2), and it is
that judgment be entered accordingly.