Skip navigation
× You have 2 more free articles available this month. Subscribe today.

NY Prisoner Has Due Process Right to Remain In Population

New York state prisoner Altagarcia Santana filed a civil rights suit, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. 1983, claiming that his right to due process had been violated when he was placed in "keeplock" and not given a hearing for five days. When the hearing took place it lasted for four days. The district court dismissed Santana's suit for failure to state a claim upon which relief could be granted.

On appeal the second circuit court of appeals reversed and remanded the case. The appeals court noted that New York state has created a due process liberty interest for it's general population prisoners to remain free from keeplock status, absent the existence of specific security concerns. Once a prisoner is placed in keeplock, due process requires a hearing within a reasonable time.

The court of appeals held that it would not conclude beyond a doubt that Santana could not prove facts entitling him to relief, and that the district court had erred in dismissing the suit. See, Santana v. Keane, 949 F.2d 584 (2 Cir. 1991).

As a digital subscriber to Prison Legal News, you can access full text and downloads for this and other premium content.

Subscribe today

Already a subscriber? Login

Related legal case

Santana v. Keane

Santana v. Keane, 949 F.2d 584 (2nd Cir. 11/18/1991)


[2] Docket No. 91-2268

[4] decided: November 18, 1991.


[6] Appeal by plaintiff, pro se and in forma pauperis, from an order of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York, Kenneth Conboy, Judge, dismissing prison inmate's keeplock complaint under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 (1988) for failure to state a claim.

[7] Altagracia Santana, Dannemora, New York, appellant pro se.

[8] Robert Abrams, Attorney General of the State of New York, Robert J. Schack, Barbara P. Demchuk, Barbara B. Butler, Assistant Attorneys General, New York, New York, of counsel, for Defendants-Appellees.

[9] Oakes, Chief Judge, Feinberg and Altimari, Circuit Judges.

[10] Author: Per Curiam

[11] Altagracia Santana, pro se and in forma pauperis, appeals from an order of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York, Kenneth Conboy, Judge, granting defendants' motion to dismiss Santana's action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 (1988). For the reasons set forth below, we reverse and remand.

[12] The district court found that Santana failed to state a claim upon which relief can be granted and therefore granted defendants' motion to dismiss pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). Santana's complaint, read liberally as it must be on a motion to dismiss, alleges that he was deprived of liberty without due process of law when he was placed in keeplock upon insufficient evidence and for an unreasonable length of time. New York law has created a protected liberty interest for prisoners in the general prison population to remain free from keeplock unless "an officer has reasonable grounds to believe that an inmate . . . represents an immediate threat to the safety, security or order of the facility or [an] immediate danger to other persons or to property." Gittens v. LeFevre 891 F.2d 38, 40 (2d Cir. 1989) (quoting 7 N.Y.C.R.R. § 251-1.6(a)); see also Morrison v. LeFevre, 592 F. Supp. 1052, 1073 (S.D.N.Y. 1984). Once an inmate is placed in keeplock, due process requires review within "a reasonable time." Hewitt v. Helms, 459 U.S. 460, 472, 74 L. Ed. 2d 675, 103 S. Ct. 864 (1983); Russell v. Coughlin, 910 F.2d 75, 77-78 (2d Cir. 1990); Gittens, 891 F.2d at 40-41. The reasonableness of a delay depends on the circumstances. Russell, 910 F.2d at 78; Gittens, 891 F.2d at 41. Here, the hearing began five days after the initial keeplock and concluded four days later. As the record sheds no light on the reasons for the delay in the present case, we are unable to conclude as a matter of law that due process was satisfied.

[13] Because under the above principles of law we cannot conclude "beyond doubt that the plaintiff can prove no set of facts in support of his claim which would entitle him to relief," Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 45-46, 2 L. Ed. 2d 80, 78 S. Ct. 99 (1957), we reverse the district court's order dismissing plaintiff's claim and remand for further proceedings. On remand, the district court should judge defendants' conduct against the flexible "reasonable time" standard set forth in Helms, 459 U.S. at 472, and applied in Russell, 910 F.2d at 78, and Gittens, 891 F.2d at 41.

[14] Reversed and remanded.

[15] Disposition

[16] Reversed and remanded.